A U.S. Postal Service employee stole nearly 100 checks worth over $1 million from residents in Washington, D.C., according to federal court documents.
After Hachikosela Muchimba, 43, of D.C., learned the government had strong evidence against him, he tried fleeing the U.S. on a plane bound for southern Africa, court documents say.
Muchimba was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, with $2,000 cash in his luggage before he could board a flight to Zambia on Sept. 20, according to a memorandum filed Sept. 22 in support of his pretrial detention.
The former USPS mail carrier was charged with mail theft and bank fraud in a criminal complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced in a Sept. 22 news release.
According to the criminal complaint, Muchimba stole $1,697,909.52 from mailed checks, most of which were U.S. Treasury checks.
McClatchy News contacted Muchimba’s defense attorney for comment on Sept. 25 and didn’t receive an immediate response.
How nearly $1.7 million was stolen
Several months after Muchimba began working as a mail carrier at the Friendship Post Office in D.C., he stole checks between October 2021 and March 2023, the criminal complaint says.
He added his name to these checks after erasing the names of the checks’ true payees — allowing him to deposit the money in his bank accounts, prosecutors said.
Muchimba was caught on surveillance footage withdrawing the stolen money from ATM machines, according to prosecutors.
Three surveillance photos included in the criminal complaint show Muchimba wearing USPS clothing while withdrawing cash.
During the execution of a search warrant at Muchimba’s D.C. home, authorities found an ATM receipt showing he had deposited a U.S. Treasury check worth $415,173, prosecutors said.
Ultimately, federal prosecutors met with Muchimba and his counsel and presented him the option of a pre-indictment plea offer after showing the evidence they had against him, according to the memo in support of pretrial detention.
However, Muchimba rejected this offer and instead made plans to flee to Zambia, the memo says.
Due to this attempt to leave the country, the government argued he “poses a serious flight risk,” the memo says.
The charge of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, while the charge of mail theft carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, prosecutors said.