Mailman on New Smyrna Beach-area route arrested on charges of defrauding customers

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Randell Holley / Headline SurferPhoto for Headline Surfer / Ranell Holley was being held Thursday in the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on charges of defrauding cusomers along his mail route.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Some residents near New Smyrna Beach had been relying on the services of one particular mailman for several years and had developed a trusting relationship with him. But Randell Holley, 67, is now accused of using that trust to essentially steal from his customers in a scheme that goes back to at least 2010.

Volusia County Sheriff's investigators arrested Holley earlier today and charged him with organized scheme to defraud. He was booked into the Volusia County Branch jail on $10,000 bond.

"According to more than a dozen of his customers who investigators have recently spoken with, Holley had a simple and consistent method of getting some quick cash when he felt he needed it," Sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said.

Residents said Holley would only ask for small amounts of money, between $20 and $60. Despite the odd hour of 2 or 4 a.m., the residents trusted him because they recognized him as their mailman and most of them leant him the cash, Haught said.

Holley offered to repay the money, but only did so on two occasions. One customer who Holley had approached decided not to lend him the money. However, she then noticed that some items would get lost in the mail, such as an i-Pod. Another customer accepted Holley's repayment by check, but the check turned out to be no good because it was written against a closed bank account.

These incidents and others like them dating all the way back to 2010 went unreported, likely because of the small amounts of money involved, the sheriff's spokesman said. "Then in July of this year a customer reported Holley's activity to the Sheriff's Office and the investigation at that time resulted in his arrest for petty theft and obtaining property by fraud for that one incident."

Holley was accused of waking the victim up at 4:40 a.m. and telling her that a broken down car needed to be towed. Furthermore, he claimed that his son delivered her daily newspaper and needed the subscription fees that she owed to help pay for that tow. The victim later learned that the entire story, including the part about the son delivering newspapers, was false, Haught said.

Holley bonded out of jail the day after that arrest. However, Holley's arrest was covered in the local news. Yet another victim had leant him money the week before his arrest but then saw the news and decided to report what had happened to her to the Sheriff's Office.

"Holley had awakened her at 3 a.m. and asked for money to pay for a tow, which she gave him," Haught said. "This led to Sheriff's Office investigators working in partnership with a special agent from the U.S. Postal Service to uncover at least 15 instances of possible fraud involving Holley. One case involved customers helping Holley purchase a motor home in 2010. He had promised to make payments to them but instead gave them a bad check. With the long list of unhappy customers in hand, investigators determined that Holley was engaged in a long term scheme to defraud customers and arrested him at his New Smyrna Beach apartment Thursday.

Haught added that during a subsequent interview, Holley said that he had borrowed money in the past, but claimed that he had paid them all back. 

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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