A former employee of the United States Postal Service in Paramount was sentenced Wednesday to more than eight years in federal prison for accepting bribes from business customers in exchange for falsely approving unpaid or underpaid bulk mail shipments, causing about $11.74 million in total losses to his employer.

Juan Enrique Caudillo, 60, of Lakewood, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who also ordered Caudillo to pay about $11.74 million in restitution to the USPS.

Caudillo, who has been in federal custody since December 2018, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Caudillo, who retired from the USPS last year, also agreed to surrender his pension as restitution, as well as the full balance — about $140,000 — of his Thrift Savings Plan, a 401(k)-type account available to federal employees.

Since at least 2012, Caudillo, while working as a bulk mail clerk at the Paramount post office, took bribes in exchange for approving unpaid or underpaid bulk mail shipments as fully paid.

In one scheme, the owner of Premier Mailing, a Paramount-based company, paid Caudillo bribes for falsely listing certain mailings as prepaid, resulting in no postage being paid for them. In a separate scheme, Caudillo accepted bribes to allow another business mailer to underreport information, resulting in reduced payment to the USPS for mailings.

Caudillo has agreed to forfeit $700,000 in cash seized from his residence during a November 2018 search warrant, and will forfeit $50,000 seized from various bank accounts he maintained, and a Eureka, California residence that he purchased with the scheme’s proceeds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Mr. Caudillo defrauded the Postal Service and abused his position of public trust by accepting bribes from businesspeople who didn’t want to pay to use the mails,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said. “Public corruption is a priority for my office, and (Wednesday’s) sentence reflects our determination to aggressively prosecute wrongdoing by any public official.”

Two co-defendants, Ramon Arribeno, 61, of Hacienda Heights, and Armando Lopez-Torres, 63, of the El Sereno neighborhood — the owner and manager, respectively, of Premier Mailing — each pleaded guilty last year to charges for their roles in the conspiracy and received federal prison sentences.

Inspector in Charge Patricia Armstrong, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Los Angeles Division, said the sentence is “a victory for law enforcement in the ongoing battle against people who commit crimes through our nation’s mail system.”

“Corrupt employees, like Juan Caudillo, are especially troubling because their actions undermine trust in great public institutions,” she said.

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