LINEBORO — The 30-year-old woman who ran the one-room community post office here was charged with stealing more than $600 in postal money, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said yesterday.
Barbara J. Hossler, who ran the post office adjacent to her home in the 4200 block of Main Street since 1987, was charged Monday in Carroll County District Court with felony theft following a 10-day investigation of financial records, said Michael W. Vision, a postal inspectors' spokesman based in Baltimore.
The tiny post office, which has been closed since Aug. 7, handlednearly 1,000 pieces of mail a week. The community post office has 120 box holders, who now must travel five miles to Manchester to pick up their mail.
The facility also provided other services, such as stamp sales and special-delivery arrangements, to the residents of this 50-home town along the Pennsylvania border.
Townspeople have been lobbying U.S. Representative Beverly B.Byron, D-6th, over the last two weeks to make sure the community post office reopens.
Postal officials yesterday said because the branch was closed for a criminal investigation -- and not for an evaluation of the office's need in the community -- the office will reopen after someone can be found to operate it.
Hossler ran the post office -- a branch of the Manchester Post Office -- on a contractual basis. Manchester Postmaster Jack Francis last week said that the Lineboro facility will remain closed for at least two more months.
The current three-year contract between Hossler and the Postal Service was terminated in the wake of the investigation, Francis said.
However, Francis did not disclose howlong the current contract had been in effect, nor did he release howmuch money Hossler was being paid.
A search for another contractor is expected to take several
months, he said.
Postal authorities closed the community post office a day after an Aug. 6 audit of the facility's financial accountability "disclosed a shortage in excessof $615," Vision said in a statement yesterday.
The theft charge is believed to be the first levied against a county postal official, Vision said.
"This type of thing is very, very uncommon," he said."I don't know of any other case like this in Carroll County."
When reached by telephone yesterday, Hossler said, "I don't have any comment." She then hung up the phone.
Hossler was served with a summons Monday, and is scheduled to appear in District Court Nov. 12 for apreliminary inquiry, where a judge will explain the charges against her and explain her rights to her.
Carroll County Deputy State's Attorney Edward Ulsch is handling the case for the Postal Service.
If convicted of the charge, Hossler could receive 15 years in jail aswell as a fine of up to $1,000.