A Philadelphia man accused of kidnapping and robbing two U.S. Postal Service workers in separate incidents earlier this year has pleaded guilty to federal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday.
James Chandler, 55, was arrested in February in connection with the incidents of January 11 and February 4.
In each, federal investigators said Chandler used a replica handgun to threaten uniformed postal workers and force them into their trucks. Once inside the trucks, Chandler stole packages from the vehicles, prosecutors said.
During the February kidnapping, Chandler forced the worker to drive him several blocks in his truck before he fled the vehicle on foot. Investigators said Chandler intended to resell the items in the packages he took.
“Targeting and violently assaulting employees of the United States Postal Service is a serious federal crime,” said Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “Letter carriers provide an essential service to almost all citizens and businesses, often going above and beyond to perform their duties in difficult circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Chandler terrorized two postal workers with a replica handgun, and now he will face the dire consequences of his crimes.
Chandler has pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from a postal worker and one count of kidnapping, and he is expected to be sentenced on January 11, 2022. If Chandler had lagged behind and been convicted, he faced a maximum life sentence in prison, prosecutors said.
The case has been investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Philadelphia Police Department as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which brings law enforcement together to reduce violent crimes and make neighborhoods safer.