Syracuse woman admitted to stealing more than $20,000 from the U.S. Postal Service

A former U.S. Postal Service employee has admitted to stealing more than $20,000 from the agency while running a small-town post office in northern New York.

Federal prosecutors in Syracuse say 35-year-old Erin Woolschlager of Lowville pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to a felony charge of misappropriation of postal funds. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced Sept. 24.

Woolschlager was postmaster in Natural Bridge in Jefferson County when the thefts occurred.

Authorities say that beginning in December 2009, she cashed more than 100 Postal Service money orders totaling nearly $14,400, without purchasing or processing them. She also admitted stealing an additional $6,500 in postal funds.

Woolschlager used the funds to pay her bills and mortgage, and to make purchases including a $500 puppy.

The investigation began in March of 2010 when special agents reviewed records and conducted an audit of the Natural Bridge Post Office as a result of numerous money orders being processed after the date they were cashed.