Ex-postal worker admits to splattering feces on former colleagues

12/12/01 7:09 PM

The Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- An ex-postal employee could be sent to prison for splattering a slurry of porcupine feces and worms on his former co-workers after he was fired.

Speaking in a low voice, James M. Beal, 62, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to four counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding a federal officer or employee.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of three years behind bars and a $250,000 fine, The Grand Rapids Press reported Wednesday.

Beal told Judge Gordon J. Quist that he was angry about being fired as relief postmaster on Oct. 17. The next day, he walked through the back door of the Empire post office in Leelanau County carrying two 5-gallon buckets filled with the sludge.

It ended up on several workers and pieces of mail.

"I let my anger with this, sort of, overrule my judgments," Beal told the judge.

Paul Denenfel, Beal's attorney, told Quist that when Beal is sentenced in March, he should receive six months or less in prison because this is his first brush with the law.

But Quist had harsh words for Beal, calling his actions "reprehensible" and "extraordinarily demeaning."

"I don't think this is a small thing," Quist said. "I can't imagine a person doing that. ... I think it's extremely dangerous. People die from this kind of stuff."

According to a court affidavit from Postal Inspector Ted Andersen, Postmaster Virginia Raz called Beal on Oct. 17 and suggested that he resign because of poor performance.

"If you want to play rough, fire me," Beal replied, according to the affidavit. "I will roast you in this ... town."

Raz immediately fired him. The next day, Beal said he took the two buckets of fecal matter and worms, which he had gathered in some woods, to the post office.

He said he threw the contents of one bucket at several employees, then left for about 30 seconds before returning with the second bucket to splatter more muck on mail and another employee.

The episode left Raz, window clerk Lorna Bonjernoor, postal employee Kerry Johannasen and visiting Postmaster Tanis Lehmann covered "from their head all the way down to their feet," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Courtade, who prosecuted the case.

"It's a pretty despicable act," Courtade said. "It was in their pockets, it was in their shoes."

Courtade said the four victims became fodder for practical jokers and radio station disc jockeys who called the next day to make light of what had happened.

Beal's actions also halted local mail delivery the next day while a hazardous-materials team cleaned and repackaged mail with a note explaining the damage


The views and opinions stated within this web page are those of the author or authors which wrote them and may not reflect the views and opinions of the ISP or account user which hosts the web page. The opinions may or may not be those of the Chairman of The Skeptic Tank.

Any text written by other authors which may be quoted in part or in full within this coverage of this issue is provided according to U. S. Code Title 17 "Fair Use" dictates which may be reviewed at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html If you're an author of an article and do not wish to allow it to be mirrored or otherwise provided on The Skeptic Tank web site, let us know and it will be removed fairly promptly.

Return to The Skeptic Tank's main Index page.

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank