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PARCEL DELIVERY DRIVER TO SERVE TIME IN THEFTS.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

LANCASTER - A former Federal Express contract driver - a decorated Gulf War veteran - was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail and placed on five years' probation for taking $16,000 worth of packages he was supposed to deliver.

Russell Carnes, 29, of Palmdale was accused of taking home packages he was supposed to deliver around the Antelope Valley and giving some to his own family.

The goods, taken during October and November, ranged from office supplies to firefighting gear and Christmas presents.

``He was ordered to pay restitution. The exact amount is going to be determined by the probation officer working with Federal Express,'' Deputy District Attorney Rouman Ebrahim said.

Carnes is a U.S. Army veteran who earned a Bronze Star for heroism during the Gulf War, but was discharged from the Army after a theft conviction, his defense attorney said.

Carnes said he took the packages home intending to deliver them later, Deputy Public Defender Manuel Martinez said. It looked good to Carnes' supervisors for him to finish his delivery route quickly, Martinez said.

``He stored things in boxes. He was not giving it away or selling it,'' Martinez said. ``He never intended to steal.''

Carnes, who pleaded no contest in December to grand theft embezzlement, also is subject to a search and seizure condition, meaning he has to submit to searches by any law enforcement officer with or without a warrant, Ebrahim said.

The defendant did not make a statement to the court during his sentencing, but submitted a letter saying he wants to get his life back together, Ebrahim said.

Prompted by an internal FedEx investigation, sheriff's detectives arrested Carnes on Dec. 21 in his delivery van. He didn't stop when patrol cars turned on their lights, but drove into a warehouse where he bumped into a sheriff's patrol car that blocked him in, deputies said.

Deputies said they recovered about $6,000 worth of stolen property at two Palmdale homes. Carnes was in the process of moving from one to the other.

Among the recovered items were firefighting clothing belonging to the U.S. Forest Service, books bound for St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, about 50 video and computer games, and an ultraviolet measuring meter that was supposed to be delivered to Edwards Air Force Base.

Deputies said Federal Express officials got calls from Carnes' relatives wondering about Federal Express boxes he had given them. Federal Express security agents checked items loaded onto Carnes' truck and found that some disappeared without being delivered, deputies said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 2, 2001
Words:425
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