A United States Postal Service (USPS) mailman from New Jersey has been arrested for allegedly dumping mail-in election ballots in a dumpster, according to reports.
Nicholas Beauchene, 26, of Kearny, was charged by federal authorities on Wednesday, accused of throwing away mail he was assigned to deliver on his route in recent days.
Beauchene allegedly dumped more than 1,800 pieces of mail into dumpsters, including 99 election ballots.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey:
Approximately 1,875 pieces of mail – including 627 pieces of first class, 873 pieces of standard class, two pieces of certified mail, 99 general election ballots destined for residents in West Orange, and 276 campaign flyers from local candidates for West Orange Town Council and Board of Education – were recovered from dumpsters in North Arlington and West Orange on Oct. 2, 2020, and Oct. 5, 2020.
The mail had been scheduled to be delivered on Sept. 28, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2, 2020, to addresses on certain postal routes in Orange and West Orange.
On the delivery dates for which mail was recovered, Beauchene was the only mail carrier assigned to deliver mail to the addresses on the recovered mail.
Beauchene was charged with one count of delay, secretion, or detention of mail and one count of obstruction of mail.
The first offense could land him in prison for up to 5 years with a $250,000 fine, and the second is punishable by up to 6 months behind bars and $5,000 in fines.
Among the trashed letters were 99 general election ballots headed to residents from the county board of elections, according to the New York Post.
The news comes amid heightened fears over mail-in voting dysfunction in the 2020 presidential race.
The dumped dispatches also included 276 campaign flyers for local board of education and town council officials, along with 627 pieces of first-class mail and 873 pieces of standard class mail, the authorities said.
The discarded mail was placed back into the delivery system after investigators made copies to use as evidence in the case.
The case comes after the United States Postal Service’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, made controversial cuts to the agency this past summer.
The move drew criticism that it would burden postal workers as record numbers of US citizens geared up to vote by mail amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He later suspended some of those cuts until after the election.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against mail-in voting, predicting the system will be a “mess.”