Mail Carrier Gets Probation For Burying Your Junk Mail In His Backyard

“Mailman Steve,” as he’s known to the children on his route, got 3 years probation yesterday for failing to deliver years worth of junk mail that was found stacked in his garage and buried in his backyard. He’ll also have to pay a $3,000 fine and serve 500 hours of community service.

Some consider “Mailman Steve” an anti-junk mail superhero — but it seems that Mr. Padgett was just overwhelmed.

It wasn’t a conscious stand against waste or a junk mail protest that spurred Padgett to hold onto the mailers, according to Andrew McCoppin, his attorney. Rather, it was the inability to meet the demands of a job in a growing part of the county while contending with heart problems and complications from his diabetes, McCoppin wrote in a memo in advance of the hearing.

Not sorting and delivering the third-class mailings became a way to save time and make sure other mail got delivered on time.

Padgett could have received jail time for his actions, which were discovered when utility workers spotted the undelivered mail at his home. The U.S. Postal Service did not receive a single complaint about the missing junk mail, some of which dates back to 1999.

“I don’t think he was being malicious,” Shelley Cole, a resident of Apex’s Jamison Park subdivision, told the News & Observer. “We got all the mail that we needed to get.”

‘Mailman Steve’ gets probation [News & Observer]
Judgment day arrives for ‘Mailman Steve’ [News & Observer]


Edit Your Comment

  1. eXo says:

    He can come work my route. I’ll even tip him

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @exo: I think I’d go so far as to call him an American hero. It would have been nice if he had recycled it though…

      • Lucky225 says:


        Then he would have been busted in ’99 when the recycling center would have wanted to know where he was getting all this mail. :/

        • nataku8_e30 says:

          @Lucky225: I know, I said it would have been nice, not it would have been a good idea. Also, since Houston refuses to actually pickup recycling, we have private recycling facilities, mostly outside grocery stores, where you can dump your recycling. I’m guessing that Raleigh is a bit more progressive than Houston, though. I think we’re the worst city in the country for recycling…sigh

          • jabryel says:

            @nataku83: They just started pickup again two weeks ago. Probably not all areas yet.

            • nataku8_e30 says:

              @jabryel: They never picked up in my area even before the storm. I requested a bin when I moved into my house in April, they delivered it within about a week and I put it out every week for two months and no one ever emptied it, so I gave up. Something about no one else in my neighborhood recycling so they weren’t going to bother to send a truck. I don’t really see how you can expect people to start recycling when no one comes to pick it up though…

      • domesticdork says:

        @nataku83: *singing* “Real American Heroes…”

        Anyone remember those commercials?

    • Corporate-Shill says:


      Tip him?

      Hell’s Bells, I will put him on the payroll.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @exo: Yeah, I would say his hours of community service have already been completed as part of his “crime spree”. Unless he had too many false-positives.

  2. WEGGLES90 says:

    He has to do community service?

    Wasn’t burying the junk mail a community service in it’s self?

    hate junk mail so much, any time I get any I just put it in the outgoing mail part. (We have “Super Boxes” here with a ton of compartments for each person, then one mail slot at the top for out going)

    • J. Gov says:

      @WEGGLES90: My thoughts exactly. I’d say he can transfer to Michigan any time, but I don’t know how long the poor guy would last in our climate.

    • theblackdog says:

      @WEGGLES90: You could argue that, but technically it is still mail theft, which is what he was charged with.

    • Lucky225 says:


      this is exactly one reason some carriers don’t bother delivering this g.d. spam. I do a mail route, and whenever I deliver to this apartment complex that PAYS the timewarner cable bill for their residents, all the residents throw it in the outgoing mail. This annoys me because there is a SECOND mail carrier, who in turn hands all of that damn spam right back to me to redeliver as there is no return-to-sender endorsement, and even if the spam doesn’t have YOUR name on it, it does say ‘OR CURRENT RESIDENT’, which means you. PEOPLE PLEASE, THROW THE SPAM AWAY, DO NOT PUT IT IN OUTGOING, IT ANNOYS THE PISS OUT OF US.

      • Hamtronix says:


        Calm down, mate. Either quit your job or adjust your actions. My job has its blow-ee parts but so what.

        • Lucky225 says:


          I have no problem with it, just don’t be pissed at me when the spam keeps getting re-delivered as you keep putting it in the outgoing. I hate spam just as much as the next person, but the outgoing box is not a trash can, and since the spam is still addressed to you, it’s gonna keep coming back. Just as you’re annoyed by receiving it, we’re annoyed by having to deliver it, but apparently if we don’t, someone’s gonna b1tch and try to put us in federal prison.

      • jantonbusch says:

        @Lucky225: I’m with you on that. It’s not the USPS’s fault for getting this junk mail and sticking it back in the slot won’t automatically get it back to the person who sent it to you. You’re killing the messenger by doing this.

      • WEGGLES90 says:

        I’m not too concerned about annoying the piss out of my mail lady.

        I’ve told her time and time again “Don’t crease my magazines, could you please roll them” and every month it arrives with a big crease in it. It seems like quite a deliberate act, as I don’t see how it could possibly be easier to crease the magazine then put it in instead of rolling it as you out it in.

    • Suttin says:


      Technically, he can put in jail 2 years for each one of those mail crates or fined like 20k per. Lucky225, do you know off the top of your head?

      Anyway, this guy got lucky. He could have gone to Federal PMITA prison.

      • Lucky225 says:


        I don’t know off the top of my head, I’m a private independent contractor for a rural area, I’m not a federal employee. But yea, those crates are property of the USPS as well.

    • Andon says:

      @WEGGLES90: Off-topic, but I appreciate your avatar. Rather fitting for such a site.

  3. mbz32190 says:

    What a shame. Maybe some environmental group or something will be able to help pay his fine. 95% of all the mail I get goes right in the trash.

  4. aftercancer says:

    The community agrees with you exo. The folks on his route loved him and many were willing to go to court in his defense.

  5. Bladefist says:

    The united states post office is having money problems right now. They should offer a service, $5 a month to filter your mail, and recycle the spam. I’d pay.

  6. frodo_35 says:

    MAILMAN STEVE YOU ARE MY HERO. A perfect combo a lazy federal employee that acomplishes a good thing. Now if we can just find a dot employee who will just give you your licence and forget the red tape and next line.

    • harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:


      Exactly. How about those Tax Attorneys start going to sleep instead of auditing middle America?

    • jenl1625 says:

      @frodo_35: If he’s truly working his route (getting all of the non-junk mail delivered) while dealing with both a heart condition and diabetes, I don’t think I’d call him lazy.

  7. discounteggroll says:

    one man’s junk is another man’s backyard

  8. jcargill says:

    Did he compost it?

    If so, he deserves a medal.

  9. HighontheHill says:

    My junkmail goes straight into my outdoor wood furnace for incineration. Not the most environmentally friendly approach but I refuse to have people mail me garbage to manage and haul to the transfer station.

  10. Nytmare says:

    I wonder if they’re going to try to deliver the backlog of junk or just trash it. But if they were to trash any of it, would they become guilty of the same crime?

    • levenhopper says:

      @nytmare: Good question. Can you imagine the day when 9 years of old junk mail gets piled up at your front door?

      It’d be interesting to see how many of these companies are still in business.

  11. OprahBabb says:

    In my opinion, he did the Community a Service by hording all the junk mail.

    Vigilante Mailman. Get. It. Gurl.

  12. SarcasticDwarf says:

    I was lucky enough that the previous tenant at my place decided to skip out on her bills and not leave any kind of forwarding address with the post office. That means that not only do I get all of my mail and junk mail, I ALSO get all of her mail and semi-junk mail. Despite being told multiple times (and my mailbox being clearly labeled) they keep giving it to me. For the past month I have started to put absolutely everything without my name on it in the outgoing mail slot until they get the hint.

    • Lucky225 says:


      Depends on where you live, if you’re in an apartment complex you could have 2 different mail carriers, one that delivers, one that picks up the outgoing. If you are not endorsing the letter with “RETURN TO SENDER, UNDELIVERABLE ASS ADDRESSED” OR “RTS/UAA” OR “UNABLE TO FORWARD/UTF” the receiving carrier could be taking all of the outgoing mail, including yours, right back to the post office to be redelivered the following day, which will go right back to your delivering carrier who probably won’t remember that he already delivered this to you yesterday. As people move IN *AND* OUT of apartments quite frequently, we must deliver all mail to your apartment number unless we KNOW that that particular name is no longer there, so the easiest solution is to write THEIR last name below yours on the box and draw a line through it indicating they are no longer there, THAT will let him/her know not to deliver the mail for that name to your box.

      • eXo says:

        @Lucky225: I have the same problem as this guy, only I’m getting mail for like 5 different families who no longer live there. What is the best method to stop this?

      • SarcasticDwarf says:

        @Lucky225: I actually did write that the person no longer lives here on every single piece of mail for about three weeks after moving in. Additionally, I left a note in the mailbox and the mailbox label inside reads “LASTNAME only at XXX.” I would assume that between all those things they would have figured it out. Oh, and the same person picks up the mail as delivers it. I live in a mobile home part with a centralized set of mailboxes.

        It has tapered off quite a bit but I still get the occasional item (mostly collection notices).

        • Lucky225 says:


          WOW, well in that case I don’t know what to tell you, your route carrier must just be so lazy that he doesn’t care to even check :(


          write all 5 of those names or try to catch the carrier when he’s delivering and explain the problem to them.

          If all else fails you can rent a private mail box, that is what I personally do, since the mail is delivered to someone who knows only you are renting that box, they will only put in mail for you to that box. I know it’s not the best solution as it costs you money, and your carrier should know just not to deliver when those names are present, but I personally do this because hey, when you move, even if you put a change of address in, some mail falls through the cracks, and the next person is going to be getting your mail. With the private mail box, as long as you live in the same area, no matter how many times you move, your address stays the same, and you only get YOUR mail. (Dont get a post office box, b/c you’ll run into the same problem.. you have to get a private mailbox, they cost more, but you can get UPS/fedex deliveries too)

      • FuryOfFirestorm says:

        @Lucky225: You wouldn’t believe the hassle I have to endure in order to return an “UNDELIVERABLE ASS”. This is what I get for wanting my mail addressed to “UNBELIEVABLE ASS”!

      • chrisjames says:

        @Lucky225: Modifying the name on the box hasn’t worked with me yet. At my first place, they wrote a card that had my name and the name of the previous three tenants. I crossed out the other three, but kept receiving their mail. After a while, on one of my impatient days, I turned over the card to the blank side and wrote only my name.

        Next week I notice that the three names have been rewritten above mine. What the hell? I removed the card and slotted a new one with only my name. Other names rewritten again. I do this a few more times and it always comes back with all four names. WHAT THE HELL!

        I called the post office a couple times and they said they’d do something about it, but that never changed anything. So I eventually just accepted the others as junk mail. I should have known about the RTS/UAA thing. That may have helped.

        And yes, I committed a federal offense several times by opening someone else’s mail. By the end I was beyond pissed, so I figured if they were so adamant about me possessing four different identities, I’d fall in line. Turns out other people’s mail is extremely boring.

        • Lucky225 says:


          LOL, that is just, bizzare. In that case I don’t even think RTS/UAA would work, for some reason your postman seems to think they live there and by god he’s gonna deliver it lol

        • freelunch says:

          @chrisjames: same problem here – for two years that USPS has ignored by request to stop delivering mail for a previous tenant… 2 years I have been receiving his mail, including daily life insurance policy offers…

          I get one piece of mail with my name on it for every 5 with his name… unacceptable.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: Ensure that you mark it “NO LONGER AT THIS ADDRESS” before you chuck it in the mail slot, or they’ll just redeliver. Seriously.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      For the past month I have started to put absolutely everything without my name on it in the outgoing mail slot until they get the hint.

      @SarcasticDwarf: I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do with mail going to the wrong address.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: I am not surprised some people are saying “There’s no problem with what he did” but you need to look at this from a business perspective.

      Yes, we all hate junk mail, but businesses PAY the USPS a a ton of money to get that stuff delivered out. You don’t stay in business by failing to provide a service that’s been paid for.

      That’s how the USPS is looking at this and that’s why he got punished.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: One secret that keeps the same piece of mail from being delivered to you again and again. Black out the line bar code at the bottom of the envelope. The USPS doesn’t read address any more…computers sort most of it and they can’t read English well. Even if you write “MOVED” in big letters, it will come back to you again and again because of the bar code.

      • Lucky225 says:


        No one will probably see this, but that is absolutely correct! And if it’s first class make sure you black out the barcode on the front *AND* the orange barcode on the back, you’ll never see that piece of mail again!

    • lauy says:


      Reading these stories make me really appreciate my postal carrier.

      I have lived in a 500+ apartment complex for almost 8 years. I will on occasion get some random piece of mail that is not mine – usually addressed to whom I assumed lived here before me. My carrier has a photocopied note they always place in my box asking if “_” is now receiving mail at my address, and asks me to complete the form and leave it in the box. I do, and won’t see mail from that name for several years. I don’t expect the carrier to keep track after a few years, so I happily fill it out again. We also have a box in the mailroom for “MAIL NOT YOURS”. I just write on it “NO SUCH PERSON AT THIS ADDRESS”, and never see it again.

      My carrier also places DYMO labels with names in each box.

      I will say, I can tell if there is a sub carrier that day. I get other people’s mail (totally different apt numbers and names) for a few days, then its back to normal.

      I really appreciate my postal carrier. Unfortunately in the 8 years I have never been able to thank them because of the weird shift I work…

  13. joeblevins says:

    As cute as this story is, companies and charities paid for a service. Some of these ‘Mass Mailings’ might have been from worthy charities. He wasn’t noble he was lazy. He wasn’t trying to help the community. Even his attorney didn’t try for the Robin Hood defense.

    • samurailynn says:

      @joeblevins: No, sorry. A charity wanting to send me something in the mail makes them UNworthy in my opinion. We have the internet, and you can easily build and maintain a website there. If I want to donate, I research this stuff online. If any charity that I have never done business with mails me something, calls me, or comes to my door, they immediately get put on the “I will not donate to” list.

      • Posthaus says:


        Regardless, however little postage..someone PAID for thoe mailings: paid for them to be produced and paid for them to be shipped. I hate junk as much as the next carrier (things like “Why the hell does Bed, Bath, and Beyond send that coupon out EVERY friggin week?,”) it’s hard to argue with money in the bank. I would prefer it to be magazines and packages, and not coupons and Macy’s sales flyers – but c’est la vie.

  14. timmus says:

    So where can we donate to this guy’s legal fund?

  15. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Even though he did a nice thing, this still constitutes mail fraud. And how is he to know what exactly is spam and what may be an extremely important bill or notification?

    • eXo says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese: the phrase “to so-and-so or current resident” is a good clue. Also, a flimsy notebook of papers covered in takeout chinese and pizza ads is a pretty damned good clue.

    • Lucky225 says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese:

      Spam is presort standard, bills are first class mail. A lot of the times the spam is bounded and separate from all the other mail we have to deliver, that is probably what he didn’t deliver.

  16. alstein says:

    Screw that, we should apply to Bush and demand a pardon before he gets out of office.

  17. Maulleigh says:

    As wonderful as he is, companies paid a lot of money for their mail to be delivered. If he really had health problems, there were other avenues besides taking matters into his own hands. He could have talked to HR or eaten a low-carb diet.

    • Lucky225 says:


      meh, presort standard is only like 7 cents/piece. They get a bulk rate. :D But yes, they did pay for it to be delivered. What annoys me though is when they send bulk mail to an entire apartment complex that they know already provides their service, like timewarner cable delivers bulk to this apartment complex that is already paying for the residents to have tv and internet, so their ‘tripple play for $99.99/mo’ bulk that they deliver really isn’t realing them in any new customers when everyone who lives there is already a customer and doesn’t pay anything as it’s included in the resident’s rent.

  18. zentex says:

    Smells fishy.

    Since when does a ‘utility worker’ give a rats ass?

    • Gokuhouse says:

      @zentex: That’s what I was wondering. He had to be a jerk for snooping around anyway. Live and let live. It wasn’t hurting anybody.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I think we should all pitch in and each send this man a dollar (or 5) to help him pay the fine. Maybe the press that this would generate would give the powers that be a subtle hint as to what we all think of junk mail.

    • banmojo says:

      @HelenCarnabon: you have my email, I have 10 $$ to contribute to his fund. seriously. come on people, let’s help this guy out. He’s my hero of the week for what he did, even if it was for self serving reasons — the ends do justify the means, or the hows/whys.

  20. vladthepaler says:

    Funny, I’ve always thought it’d be nice if the post office would offer that as a service.

  21. Blitzgal says:

    Burning the stuff would’ve been a lot easier than burying it in the backyard, plus leave less evidence behind.

  22. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    At my last apartment complex, the mail carrier would just leave all the “dear current resident” junk mail in a box right by the mailboxes. They were mostly fliers and coupons. So if you wanted one, you can grab one.

    But after a while that stopped. And the junk mail made its way back into our mailboxes. I’m guessing he got caught somehow. My guess is that someone snitched. I mean, who the hell would report something like that? Most people I know hate junk mail.

  23. Papercutninja says:


  24. Gokuhouse says:

    I knew a mailman like this once, but the one I knew was worse. Because not only did he not deliver the junk mail he also only delivered mail 4 or so times a week. He was holding the mail until he thought they had enough to make the delivery.

  25. Optimus says:


    But you forget: it’s his buddies’ companies that are “saving money” by force feeding us these mass junkings. A majority of Red business owners only support Red ideals until they no longer benefit them (as this recession proves). Ideals such as less government waste are rarely raised by the Reds unless it is election time.

  26. Krycek says:

    Shouldn’t the header on this story be “ABOVE AND BEYOND”?

  27. weakdome says:

    Now, the really interesting part of this story will be:
    Who delivers all the leftover mail they found?
    Because, technically, shouldn’t it still be delivered?

  28. classic10 says:

    So when Comcast blocks my spam is ok… when the mailman blocks the spam is a crime?

    Where’s the equality on this?

    • mbz32190 says:


      I guess the issue is, Comcast doesn’t get paid by anyone to send/receive e-mail (unless you use comcast mail as outgoing and pay for a comcast account of course)…And “VI@gra @ 50% savings” is slightly different than “ABC Lawn Service/Supermarket/etc..”

  29. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    My only problem is that some of my junk mail has my name on it, not just “current resident” – I don’t mind it being filtered, but I really don’t want someone taking it or looking through it and seeing my name and address.

    Also, how would we differentiate the types of junk mail…I hate the countless spam that Verizon sends me to try to sell me on FiOS TV and I hate the Cox spam that tries to get me to switch to cable, but I like the Val-Pak coupons because sometimes we need that oil change and coupons are helpful.

  30. calquist says:

    Junk mail is the only mail I get; it makes me feel loved.

  31. kryptonn says:

    @ bladefist… you are a genius

  32. frodo_35 says:

    At least it is a renewable resource and creats jobs. Although it is a pain.

  33. ngth says:

    Mailman Steve is my hero!

  34. Corporate-Shill says:

    Can we promote the guy to Postmaster General?

  35. Slow2Whine says:

    I imagine that maybe nice in people’s eyes, he did “voluntarily” not complete his job. I know that companies use the bulk mail route, (no pun intended) but some of those are small business owners. I were one, I’d be peeved that this marketing strategy, (I hope I have others) was being sabotaged by this guy. I would be marching up to the USPS for a refund of all services prior.

    If you’re working for a company that provides the DELIVERY of advertisements, you should honor that. If it gets read, that’s another issue. Think of it like billboards, You don’t get to choose if it gets to be put up simply because it’s an advertisement for a claims lawyer, or a GAP ad.

    • Lucky225 says:


      obviously sabotaging this method wasn’t hurting business, the businesses who sent the mail weren’t complaining about lost revenue, and continued to send bulk mail after the first failed attempt using their profits that they were already receiving. If anything, I think this story only serves to prove that bulk mail marketing doesn’t work.

  36. jwissick says:

    I think this carrier deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This man is a hero.

  37. balilanai says:

    That mailman must be rewarded for saving Americans 1000s of hours of going through crap.

  38. bsalamon says:

    not a single complaint with 9 years worth of letters, and he gets probation. He should be named Postmaster General.

  39. Squeezer99 says:

    those utility workers need to mind their own f’ing business and STFU.

  40. ELC says:

    Sounds like he couldn’t DO his job, which means, even though he is a Federal Employee, he should have been put in another position or let go.

  41. TechnoDestructo says:

    My dad’s mail carrier filters out his junk mail. But that’s with his knowledge and permission.

    The only problem with what he was doing is that he may not have been properly identifying every piece of junk mail. There’s no problem for my dad…all his important mail goes to a PO Box. But if you’re not doing that, well, you can’t be sure.

  42. albear says:

    I want this guy to be my mailman! it’s a REAL live spam firewall! ;)

  43. forgottenpassword says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    me too. But How else is the USPS going to keep afloat?

    I hate Junk mail. Hate it with a passion….

    here is an interesting bit of church junk mail I got when I first moved into my place.


  44. forgottenpassword says:

    Note: have you ever gotten a PO box…. the amount of junk mail those get is obscene! MUCH more than the average residence. And the post office clerks are REAL assholes about making sure you check it every single day (because the obscene amount of junk mail is too much for the average PO box…. if you skip a few days … the thing is jam-packed with that shit.).

    • carlogesualdo says:

      @forgottenpassword: I guess that depends. I have a PO Box, but I still check the lockbox at my residence once a week. I get more junk in my box at home. I only check the PO Box every other day. No problems here. I’m diligent about getting off of junk mailing lists, so I don’t get all that much, I guess. Some, but not that much.

  45. bohemian says:

    They should promote this guy to the head of the postal service.

  46. mrearly2 says:

    He was just trying to help.
    Hey, I’d bury the junk mail in MY back yard, but it’s really too small.

  47. mrearly2 says:

    Utility workers intending to be heroes…

  48. SacraBos says:

    You guys have it easy. My real name is “Resident Occupant”, and I all the junk from everyone in my ZIP code…

  49. ShariC says:

    I join many here thinking he should be given a medal for not delivering junk mail. Since the USPS is having trouble making a profit (or even staying in the black), they seriously need to boost the rates on junk mail to make more from what they deliver and discourage so much of it being put into the system.

    Unfortunately, I believe that even at cut rates they make more from mass mailing than from first class mail if they are delivering to rural routes. The thing that’s killing them is having to deliver to any far-flung area no matter how out of the way it is.

  50. Quilt says:

    Someone give this man a blowjob!

  51. Razta says:

    My hero…can he fix the spam issue now?

  52. banmojo says:

    let’s DO pitch in and help pay this guys fine. and make a big stink doing it, that gets on natl tv, and gets the attention it deserves. save the environment? bullshit. they’re cutting down some SERIOUS ass trees to make all the junk mail that comes out each day. almost as bad as getting a sales call during dinner, or finding your email filled with spam. well, nothing is as bad as spam, and all who send spam should have their eyes gouged out and their testicles/ovaries cut out so they cannot reproduce more spam sending suckass c$#@suckers, then drawn, quartered, hung until dead then burned at the stake. ashes sprinkled on a dead mules rotting ass.

    yup, I do hate me dat spam. hate it real good.

  53. VencentioCaeneus says:

    So I should feel sorry for the companies who pay for bulk mail advertising? I’ve never asked for it, never respond to it, never use it. Someone has dropped useless crap in my mailbox and I have to deal with it, by burning, shredding, or placing it in the trash. It is an expense to me in that I have to pay with my valuable time and effort to get it off my property and out of my life. And feel strongly enough to spend time writing this.
    It’s as if a company paid to have someone deliver real live shi* to my mailbox. Are they to be pitied when the guy says “I’m not putting this shi* in these mailboxes.” ?
    He did the right thing, illegal or not.
    Hayl naw! Give the man a medal! Give him a legal defense fund! A pay raise, trust fund, something!

  54. Parting says:

    He buried junk mail? Isn’t it more *hassling* than just delivering it? That’s dedication, man.