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    DOJ: Mail carrier accused of taking $1.7M tried to flee to Africa

    Federal charges were unsealed this week against Hachikosela Muchimba for allegedly stealing nearly $1.7 million from D.C. residents.

    WASHINGTON — A mail carrier accused of stealing nearly $1.7 million from D.C. residents was arrested Wednesday while allegedly attempting to flee the country to the African nation of Zambia, according to charging documents unsealed this week.

    In a detention memo filed Friday, federal prosecutors said they quickly sought an arrest warrant this week after learning Hachikosela Muchimba had booked an international flight using a card belonging to someone else. Muchimba was arrested at Dulles International Airport Wednesday morning shortly before he boarded his flight. According to the memo, he was carrying $2,000 in cash and a newly issued Zambian passport.

    Prosecutors say Muchimba, who has worked as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier since 2020 but was placed on off-duty status in March, was aware he was under investigation for allegedly stealing checks from postal customers in D.C. More than $400,000 was seized last month from a bank account he controlled as part of a civil forfeiture action and all of his identification documents, including his U.S. passport, were seized during a separate search of his residence in March. On Thursday, two felony counts of mail theft and bank fraud were unsealed against him in D.C. District Court.

    Federal investigators say an investigation into mail thefts at the Friendship Post Office on Wisconsin Avenue, where Muchimba had been stationed, began in January after a customer reported a U.S. Treasury check was stolen and deposited in another person’s account. Investigators say the $14,304 check was altered to contain Muchimba’s name and address and fraudulently signed over to “Double Blue Investments.” It was then deposited in a TD Bank account opened by Muchimba. According to charging documents, the mail customer recognized Muchimba’s name and address on the deposited check as the same Muchimba had used on a holiday card.

    Investigators say they determined Muchimba had deposited more than $122,000 into the TD Bank account via stolen Treasury checks, as well as more than $400,000 into another account opened at Sandy Spring Bank. Ultimately, according to charging documents, investigators linked Muchimba to 98 stolen checks deposited into seven different bank accounts with a total value of nearly $1.7 million. According to the detention memo, prosecutors believe Muchimba also recruited at least one other postal worker to assist him in the alleged scheme.

    Prosecutors say they met with Muchimba and his attorney in June and provided him an overview of the evidence against him and the charges he could face. The government then extended a pre-indictment plea offer on unspecified charges, which Muchimba reportedly rejected.

    After his arrest Wednesday at Dulles, Muchimba made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Merriweather in D.C. District Court. Citing his alleged attempt to flee the country, prosecutors argued he was a flight risk and requested he be detained pending trial. Meriweather denied that motion and ordered Muchimba released Friday morning.

    A preliminary hearing for Muchimba was scheduled for Nov. 15 before Meriweather.


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