(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- A Marion man's headed to prison for forging and counterfeiting a quarter of a million dollars in postage. A judge has sentenced 43-year-old Bradley Matheny to three years in federal prison.
Evidence at the trial and the sentencing hearing showed that Matheny operated an eBay business known as “Mathenys” from his Marion home. Matheny sold retail goods to individuals all over the United States and around the world, using the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ship goods.
Matheny shipped over 28,000 packages with the USPS in 2015. To reduce his costs Matheny possessed and used forged and counterfeited postage meter stamps on many of the packages he sent to his customers between 2013 and 2017.
US Postal workers at the Cedar Rapids Main Post Office became suspicious of Matheny’s mailing practices after he kept dropping off his packages at the post office late in the evening at the dock. USPS eventually alerted federal law enforcement, specifically the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), that Matheny might be falsifying postage in connection with his eBay business. A review of Matheny’s packages in late 2015 revealed that most of Matheny’s packages had either insufficient postage or a forged or counterfeited postage meter stamp. Similar reviews in 2016 and 2017 yielded similar results.
Law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Matheny’s residence and seized a large number of unusual paper clippings of partial Priority Mail and First Class postage meter stamps as well as a handwritten list of crossed-out Priority Mail tracking numbers. Law enforcement also imaged Matheny’s electronic devices and, on his computer, found a number of the unaltered electronic versions of the forged postage meter stamps in question. Later, working with representatives of eBay, law enforcement learned that Matheny was taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the USPS’s electronic postage payment systems to receive Priority Mail treatment for his packages even though he had only paid the First Class rate. At Matheny’s sentencing, a USPIS inspector testified that the face value of the counterfeited and forged postage that Matheny manufactured between 2013 and 2017 exceeded $380,000.
The USPS required Matheny to make truthful declarations on exports, declaring whether the package contained merchandise or a gift and also the value of the contents of the package. Matheny falsely certified on the forms his packages each contained a “gift” that was worth a nominal sum such as “$1.90." This allowed Matheny’s packages to clear foreign customs more rapidly and possibly avoid foreign customs taxes.
A jury convicted Matheny earlier this year. In addition to the three-year-prison term, Matheny was also fined $10,000 and ordered to make $256,441.78 in restitution to the USPS. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.