OWNER OF LARGEST HOUSTON MAIL PRESORT OPERATION FOUND GUILTY OF STEALING MILLIONS FROM USPS IN COUNTERFEIT POSTAGE SCHEME
One of the largest counterfeit postage losses in the history of the U. S. Postal Service
HOUSTON – The former owner of one of the largest mail presort operations in the Houston area has been found guilty by jury of conspiring to and committing mail fraud and possessing and using counterfeit postage meter machines to affix counterfeit postage in his mass mailing businesses, resulting in millions of lost revenue to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over a four-year period, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and U. S. Postal Inspector-in-Charge Gary Barksdale announced today.
Neal Uy Lim, 50, of Missouri City, Texas, was convicted of all counts --conspiracy to commit mail fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and four counts of possession of counterfeit postage meter machines –arising from a scheme to possess and use counterfeit postage meter machines to apply postage in excess of amounts actually paid to the USPS. The verdicts were returned yesterday following a five day trial and three and one-half hours of deliberation.
Lim owned three companies - Gulf Coast Presort, Inc., located at 1005 Ennis Street, Houston, Texas, one of the largest presort business in Houston; Mail Processing Center, Inc., 10835 Seaboard Loop, Houston, Texas; and a satellite office located at 5940 N. Sam Houston Parkway East, Suite 315, Humble, Texas These businesses operated as third-party mailers and/or pre-sort bureaus that make money by doing big mass mailings for clients and getting discounts from the post office for sorting the mail. Clients of Neal Lim’s companies included the county offices, financial institutions, and other area businesses.
During trial, the jury heard testimony establishing that Lim purchased Mail Processing Center, Inc. in 1992. Lim had been the owner of Gulf Coast Presort, Inc, since November, 2002. The satellite office was opened in 2005. Through a statistical mail sampling process, the U.S. Postal Service determined that the amount of mail observed being processed by the U.S. Postal Service for Lim’s companies exceeded the amount of pre-paid postage available on the postage meter machines licensed to Lim’s companies.
Jurors heard testimony that thereafter, agents with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, began to monitor the mailings and metered postage paid for Lim’s companies. Upon doing so, the Postal Service continued to observe additional discrepancies between the amount of mail processed and the amount of postage paid. Jurors heard testimony and reviewed documentary evidence which showed a declining amount of postage paid by Lim from 2003 - 2007, with no change in mail volume. Discrepancies between the amount of mail processed and the amount of postage paid resulted in millions of dollars in revenue loss to the U.S. Postal Service.
“Mailers in the U.S. enjoy some of the lowest cost postage in the world, so we take fraud against the Postal Service very seriously,” said Gary Barksdale, Inspector in Charge in Houston. “We aggressively pursue individuals or companies who make the mistake of committing these crimes. The jury’s verdict finding Lim guilty on all charges should send a strong message to anyone considering fraud against the U.S. Postal Service.”
Three of Lim’s five co-defendants and former employees testified during trial telling the jury about Lim’s participation in a scheme to create counterfeit postage meter machines to print counterfeit postage on mass mail processed by his presort companies. Jurors also heard testimony that Lim’s businesses collected additional millions in postal refunds for presorting based on the illegitimate postage. Lim and his co-defendants illegitimately obtained meters which they modified so they would produce counterfeit postage. The businesses collected postage from their mailing customers but didn't pay the post office. The businesses would then collect a refund from the post office for having pre-sorted the illegally-metered mail.
United States District Judge Nancy F. Atlas, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for Lim for April 26, 2011. Lim faces a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment on the conspiracy to commit mail fraud conviction, 20 years on the two substantive mail fraud convictions, five years on each count of the possession of counterfeit postage meter machines convictions, and millions of dollars in forfeiture and/or restitution and/or fines of $250,000 as to each count of conviction.
Lim’s five co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud and are also pending sentencing. Each of them faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000. Lim and his co-defendants have been permitted to remain on bond pending their sentencing hearings.
The case was tried by Special Assistant United States Attorney Tammie Y. Moore and Assistant United States Attorney Bertram A. Isaacs.