by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - United States Post Office officials are refusing to answer questions about two more employees with criminal convictions in their pasts.
Eyewitness News first began questioning hiring practices at USPS in December 2013 after Channel 9 uncovered that a woman convicted of multiple criminal charges, including fraud, had been hired as the postmaster relief in Anson County.
Tuesday, Channel 9 learned two more USPS employees who work at postal facilities in Charlotte also have criminal convictions.
Public policy Professor Gordon Hull with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Center for Professional and Applied Ethics said the postal hiring practices raise questions.
“What kind of job are they doing? Are they being appropriately supervised? Is there a public safety issue or something like that?” Hull said.
Government data showed Renee Avinger-Wharton was first hired in May 1996, eight months after criminal records show she was arrested for felony obtaining property by false pretenses.
State prison records showed Avinger-Wharton was convicted of the charge in 1998, but she has since been promoted by USPS and given a salary increase.
Channel 9 obtained a USPS job application that clearly states candidates must disclose pending criminal charges or convictions. It’s unclear how Avinger-Wharton answered that question on her employment application.
USPS employee Guadalupe “Billy” Moreno was hired in 1983, according to government records, but was arrested in 1991 for misdemeanor indecent exposure.
Criminal records reviewed by Channel 9 showed Moreno was convicted of the charge in 1992.
A USPS spokeswoman would not answer questions about whether Moreno or Avinger-Wharton disclosed their arrests and convictions. She did send a statement that read, “Privacy laws prohibit USPS from disclosing any disciplinary action involving our employees.
The Postal Service treats the sanctity of the mail as an extremely serious matter. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, one of the country’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies, has the mission of protecting the nation’s mail system and ensuring public trust in the mail.”
Postal customers told Channel 9 that while everyone deserves a second chance, taxpayers deserve an explanation from the government.
“Somebody ought to step up to the plate and give an answer,” said customer Carlene Greene.