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Wide Postal Probe Ordered in Wake of Official’s Fraud : Will Focus on Hiring, Purchasing

From Times Wire Services

A top-to-bottom review of Postal Service purchasing policies--covering everything from the selection of the postmaster general to computer paper--was ordered today, four days after former postal governor Peter Voss pleaded guilty to embezzlement.

John McKean, chairman of the Postal Board of Governors, directed postal inspectors to, among other things, focus their probe on William Spartin, a Dallas executive recruiter who recommended the hiring of Postmaster General Albert V. Casey.

The action raised speculation that the sudden firing in January of Paul Carlin, replaced by Casey partly because he moved too slowly in implementing new technology, might be connected to Voss’ efforts to help a Dallas firm sell the Postal Service new equipment needed to read nine-digit ZIP codes.

Voss pleaded guilty last Friday to three felony counts, admitting that he received at least $20,000 in illegal payments for helping Recognition Equipment Inc. seek the contract worth as much as $250 million. Voss stood to gain as much $600,000 eventually.

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Submitted False Vouchers

He also pleaded guilty to embezzling money from the Postal Service by submitting vouchers for $70,000 worth of first-class airline tickets when he flew coach, spending only $26,000.

The Postal Service must work to repair Voss’ “flagrant breach of trust,” McKean said, adding that the board will “find out how it happened so that it will not happen again.”

Lewis Cox, general counsel of the Postal Service, will review all decisions in which Voss participated to see if there was more fraud, McKean said. Cox will also join the postal inspection service in investigating Spartin.

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Spartin is president of Gnau Associates, the Michigan public relations firm that was to split fees with Voss for helping Recognition gain the contract. Spartin also is director of Gnau’s subsidiary MSL Inc., which recommended Casey as the nation’s top mailman.

McKean said that when he discovered the connection between Spartin, Voss and the Casey selection, he ordered Casey to stay out of the process for awarding the contract to build the mail sorting equipment, the decision prosecutors said Voss was paid to influence.

No Indication of Impropriety

“There is no indication that Mr. Casey is involved in any impropriety whatsoever,” McKean said in answer to a reporter’s question. “We don’t believe there is any corruption at all.”

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McKean pointed out that the investigation that snared Voss was initiated and conducted by the Postal Service.

“No outside law enforcement agency had to spot this problem or straighten it out on our behalf,” he said.

During the next few weeks, he said, board general counsel Joseph Califano will thoroughly investigate the board’s procurement process to find out if safeguards are working.

Review of Procedures

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Califano also will review the procedures by which board members are processed and audited. If they are not good enough to spot fraud, they will be changed, McKean said.

The Postal Service also has hired outside lawyers to recover money fraudulently obtained by Voss or others.

McKean praised Deputy Postmaster General Jackie A. Strange for refusing to go along with Voss’ efforts to influence the board.

Voss encouraged Strange to bypass the usual review procedure and favor Recognition Equipment. Strange refused and soon will begin testing ZIP equipment from Recognition and other firms.

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