Medford man who led huge mail theft ring sentenced to more than 13 years in prison

A Medford man who was the ringleader of what investigators called Southern Oregon's largest mail theft, identity theft and bank fraud ring was sentenced today to 13 years and five months in federal prison.

Robert Lee Powelson, 30, and his partners in crime stole thousands of pieces of mail from several hundred homes and businesses in Southern Oregon between September 2012 and March 2013, a U.S. Department of Justice news release said.

Powelson was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Medford for conspiracy to commit mail theft, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, the release said.

A pair of his co-conspirators 32-year-old Dallas Lee Tedford and 23-year-old Kayla Strange, both of Medford, were convicted on the same charges and all three were ordered to pay $70,380.09 each in restitution to the victims of the fraud. Tedford was sentenced to a little more that three and a half years in prison and Strange was sentence to a little more than four years in prison, the release said.

The thieves utilized financial and identity information from the stolen mail to forge and cash checks, apply for credit cards and open American Express Bluebird reloadable cards in the names of their victims, the release said.

The release said investigators tracked back at least $214,697 in fraudulent transactions on credit cards stolen by the group, which included Medford residents Eduaro Navarro, 24 and Lanna Marshall, 29.

Navarro and Marshall are scheduled to be sentenced within weeks, the release show.

Powelson led police on two high-speed chases while he was involved in stealing mail, prosecutors said in the release. At the culmination of one pursuit, police found 12 credit and debit cards and 84 pieces of stolen mail including checks, check books, and financial and tax documents such as W-2's and 1099 forms belonging to 81 Medford victims. Another chase led police to a motel room that held about a 1,000 pieces of stolen mail belonging to around 365 individuals and businesses from the Medford area.

Police executed search warrants for three motel rooms, two vehicles and two residences in the Rogue Valley during the investigation, the release said.

— Sam Wheeler

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