SAN JOSE — A once-heralded postal inspector was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for possessing stolen U.S. mail, including a gun silencer and a silver bar, and marijuana trafficking, federal prosecutors said.
Quan Pham Howard, 53, of Saratoga, is expected to begin serving his sentence on March 17.
In sentencing Howard, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said the postal inspector abused his position of trust and interfered with the criminal investigation by trying to influence or tamper with witnesses, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California said in a news release.
Howard unlawfully opened and stole U.S. mail from the U.S. Postal Service’s San Jose Processing and Distribution Center between late 2010 and June 25, 2014, prosecutors said. The pilfered items included prescription drugs, a gun scope, rare coins, jewelry and a Rolex watch.
Prosecutors said Howard was also found with more than 17 pounds of marijuana, which he intended to distribute.
Howard concealed the thefts and drug trafficking by falsifying postal records and disabling a surveillance camera at the distribution center, prosecutors said.
After he was arrested and released on bond on June 26, 2014, Howard tried to influence a former employee’s testimony, prosecutors said. In addition, he repeatedly contacted a former supervisor in an attempt to gain her support for his explanation of how he ended up with the stolen property.
Howard pleaded guilty to the charges on July 22, 2015.
“It is disheartening to see a postal inspector accused and convicted of violating laws they were sworn to uphold, but it is reassuring that justice has been done today,” U.S. Postal Inspection Service Special Agent in Charge Rafael Nunez said in the news release.
“Howard’s actions should not diminish the fine work the men and women of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service do every day,” he continued. “We will continue to work with honor and integrity in a steadfast effort to maintain the safety and security of the U.S. mail.”
In 2012, while the thefts and drug trafficking were taking place, Howard received a “Federal Employee of the Year” award from the San Francisco Bay Area Federal Executive Board, a federal agency that helps coordinate various federal departments in Northern California.