SEATTLE — A Hood Canal contract mail carrier who was fired in 2010 for burning undelivered mail had held on to much more — 159 tubs buried in a trench on his property at Belfair, according to recently unsealed court documents.
The mail was uncovered last month after a woman living with Richard Farrell reported it to the Postal Service, seattlepi.com reported Friday.
Farrell, 47, has not been arrested or charged in the recent development. In 2010, Farrell was sentenced to 130 hours of community service for burning thousands of letters that went undelivered because he spent his day in a tavern.
"His conduct reflects extreme laziness and a complete lack of consideration for the customers that he serviced," Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods told the court three years ago. "Farrell repeatedly made the decision that he would rather spend his work hours not working, covering up his crime by stoking a fire pit with the very mail that he was supposed to be delivering."
Farrell's attorney said he was genuinely remorseful and ready to get his life back on track. His probation was cut short in October after authorities determined he didn't need government supervision any longer.
On March 12, a Postal Service employee living with Farrell told the Fox Island Post Office postmaster she had seen Farrell and two other people burying mail in a 5-foot by 30-foot trench, a Postal Service agent told the court.
The woman told investigators one of Farrell's associates used a backhoe to dig the trench, which the men then filled with mail Farrell had been storing in sheds on the property, the agent said in the search warrant affidavit. The men then covered the hole with dirt.
The woman said she confronted Farrell about the buried mail. Farrell told her he was getting rid of five years' worth of mail, and to keep quiet about it, according to the affidavit.
Sheds on Farrell's property were not searched in 2010.
After obtaining a warrant, agents with the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General's Office searched the property on March 15 and found 159 tubs full of mail and 117 empty tubs. The buried mail could total 35,000 letters and packages, seattlepi.com estimated.
Farrell originally went to work for the Postal Service in 1991 as a contract mail delivery driver.
The original investigation was launched after other employees found a load of letters Farrell was to deliver dumped in a recycling bin. Investigators followed Farrell on a route, watching as he spent his day at a tavern before taking the mail to his home and burning it in a fire pit. A search of Farrell's residence at the time uncovered nearly 8,000 letters.