Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Authorities charged a U.S. Postal Service employee with detaining and delaying mail on Thursday, according to a complaint in federal court. The complaint said the employee stashed 17,000 pieces of mail because he was “overwhelmed” by how much he had to deliver, including 10,000 pieces in his Nissan Pathfinder.

The complaint said the employee, Aleksey Germash, has been with USPS for more than 16 years and was recently delivering mail in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to 10,000 pieces in his SUV, the complaint said Germash also had about 6,000 pieces of mail in his apartment and 1,000 in his work locker. At least one piece of mail Germash didn’t deliver was from 2005, according to the complaint.

But Germash isn’t at all alone. This happens to piles upon piles of mail in the USPS system every year, according to The New York Times:

Theft of mail by postal employees is not uncommon in a system that delivers more than 154 billion pieces each year and has nearly 336,900 mail carriers.

[USPS] investigated 1,364 employee mail cases and arrested 409 employees between October 2016 and September 2017, according to the service. [...]

In 2014, a Brooklyn mail carrier was discovered to have hidden 40,000 pieces of undelivered mail — a total of 2,500 pounds — over nine years. [...] In 2015, a postal worker in Philadelphia failed to deliver more than 20,000 pieces of mail on his route and instead cached them in his car and home.

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In an interview with USPS, the complaint said Germash admitted he stored the mail because he was overwhelmed by the amount he had to deliver. But he said he made sure to deliver the important mail, according to the complaint.

USPS found out about Germash’s years of stored mail when the service got word of a vehicle with more than 20 full blue mailbags inside parked in Brooklyn, the complaint said. USPS investigated it and found Germash to be the employee who lived closest to the vehicle, and he later admitted to it being his.

In its story, The New York Times reports that Germash was released on a $25,000 bail. His lawyer declined to comment to the Times, and the report said neither Germash nor a USPS spokesperson could be reached Saturday. Most of the time, the Times reports that USPS will deliver the late mail that’s in good condition.

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But it’s unnerving, now, to consider what mail overwhelmed postal workers find important—bills, probably, but what about that nice thank-you card you sent to your testy aunt and uncle, who are sure to tell every person they see (except for you!) that your ungrateful self didn’t send a card when they bought you a gift?

Maybe we really should all start sending e-cards these days. After all, we can put animated, dancing cats on e-cards. Paper in a mailbox can’t do that.