A Hockingport man was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison Thursday after stealing hundreds of pieces of mail, including credit cards, passports and other items.
Dalton Spangler, 27, of Hockingport, will spend at least the next 11 years in prison, with a maximum of 15 years, according to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office. He was also ordered to pay $288 in restitution.
Spangler appeared in Athens County Common Pleas Court Thursday in front of Judge Patrick Lang and pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
At least 201 victims were identified during investigation of the case, the release said.
In August 2020, the Athens Police Department received notice of a theft from a mailbox after the resident was informed that three checks from his account were fraudulently deposited. Another report was received, and a deluge followed.
After an investigation, law enforcement discovered security footage of the theft an identified a white Ford Fusion as the vehicle used in the thefts, according to court documents.
A search warrant of Spangler’s residence revealed several hundred pieces of mail and packages from Athens, Athens County and surrounding counties. They contained passports, checks, credit cards and other items.
According to indictment documents, Spangler told law enforcement he would drive around looking for mailboxes, and prior to his arrest had stolen from 10 to 15 mailboxes the previous evening.
Among the stolen mail was a check made out to the Athens County Treasurer's Office to pay property taxes, which Spangler signed and cashed. Other personal checks were also cashed at various banking locations.
Spangler also used a series of nine bank accounts, some registered under fraudulent identities. The bank accounts ranged from well-known banks such as Huntington and PNC to more obscure banks, including one account in North Dakota. In one instance, a bank account was created with an email that incorrectly spelled the victim's name.
The indictment documents also show Spangler used several banking applications on his phone, including Huntington, Paypal, Walmart Money Card, among others. There were also contacts in his phone for "SAM" (Simple Automated Money) check cashing machines.
The release said dependence on drugs was a motivating factor in Spangler’s mail-theft spree.
“Addiction is powerful. It can lead to tremendous harm to so many,” said Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. “I encourage those who are struggling with addiction to contact our office. We have proven programs that can help those who want to see positive change.”
This case was investigated by The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, Athens County Sheriff’s Office and Athens Police Department.