Photo for Headline Surfer /
Randell Holley, shown here in this jail mug, was arrested in August on charges of defrauding customers along his mail route.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- 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, stood accused in August 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 Aug. 8, and charged him with organized scheme to defraud.
The alleged criminal activity lodged against the mailman comes in at No. 67 in the Headline Surfer® countdown of the top 100 stories of 2013.
"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," Haught said.
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, the Sheriff's spokesman said.
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.
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.His case is pending in court and is presumed innocent until or unless convicted.
Counting 'em down: Headline Surfer® Ranking of the Top 100 Stories of 2013
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69. Christmas on Canal in NSB draws sparse crowd
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70. Dolphin washes ashore in Ormond Beach
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71. Daytona Beach drug dealer gets 10 years in prison as 'habitual felony offender'
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74. Daytona State ranked 35th nationally among community colleges in awarding 2-year degrees
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75. Norman Church wins 2013 Lipton Cup Regatta in New Smyrna Beach
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76. State Rep. Dwayne Taylor receives award at firefighter conference in Daytona Beach
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79. Hernando County judge elevated to Tavares-based 5th circuit judgeship
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80. New Smyrna Beach cops: Cocaine dealer shot in ankle during robbery
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81. Stetson University in DeLand ranked prominently by US News & World Report, two other publications
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82. Kissimmee man sentenced to five years in prison for downloading kiddie porn
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89. Daytona State College foreign-languages chair honored
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91. Orange City man sentenced to prison for shooting own brother
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92. Seminole County Sheriff's helicopter looks for nighttime prowler in Lake Mary
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94. DeLand man, 60, sentenced to life in prison for sexually battering 11-year-old boy
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95. Volusia County GOP leader Tony Ledbetter named to key Florida Republican post
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