Faces Prison Term in Kickback, Larceny Schemes : Postal Governor Admits Guilt, Resigns

Times Staff Writer

Peter E. Voss, vice chairman of the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service and an adviser to President Reagan’s 1980 campaign in Ohio, resigned Friday after pleading guilty to kickback and larceny schemes.

Voss’ plea to a three-count criminal information could subject him to a maximum of seven years in prison and $21,000 in fines, U.S. Atty. Joseph DiGenova said. U.S. District Judge George H. Revercomb released Voss on his own recognizance pending sentencing July 24.

Voss, head of an engineering firm in Canton, Ohio, admitted receiving $20,000 to $25,000 in payoffs from a public relations firm representing Recognition Equipment Corp. of Dallas, which competes for contracts for mail-sorting equipment that could be worth from $230 million to $341 million, according to the Postal Service.

Inflated Ticket Prices

In addition, Voss confessed to a scheme to inflate the cost of airline tickets that DiGenova said had netted him $43,718 over the cost of fares actually paid on 81 business flights for the Postal Service over the four years since his appointment to the board. According to court papers, Voss would purchase first-class tickets, photocopy them for his expense vouchers, then turn them in for credit and buy coach-class tickets, pocketing the difference.

A Justice Department official, who asked not to be identified, said that a postal inspector saw Voss flying tourist class, even though governors of the Postal Service are entitled to first-class business travel, along with the per diem allowances and $10,000 yearly salaries they receive in their part-time posts. The inspector then started a yearlong investigation and the Justice Department was called in, the source said.


In the other two counts, Voss admitted that he arranged for Recognition Equipment in 1984 to retain John R. Gnau Associates to present to the Postal Service its proposal to supply sophisticated mail-sorting machines that read addresses as well as zip codes, called “multi-line optical character readers.”

Over the next year, the papers said, Voss arranged for the Dallas company to be favorably considered for the contract and negotiated an agreement under which 1% of the amount of the contract--if the firm won the award--was to be evenly split between Voss, Gnau and two other individuals.

$25,000 in Payments

Payments to Voss totaled $20,000 to $25,000, according to a “factual foundation” filed by the Justice Department to support Voss’ guilty pleas.

Reached in Dallas by telephone, William G. Moore Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Recognition, denied that his firm had anything to do with the payments to Voss. Declaring that the actions attributed to Gnau had violated the terms of the firm’s contract with Recognition, Moore said “anything they paid Voss is their responsibility, not ours.”

Voss, 56, was named to the Postal Service board of governors in 1982 and became its vice chairman last January. At the Republican National Committee, he is listed as one of four Ohioans who served on the national advisory committee for President Reagan’s 1980 campaign.