Inquiry Into House Post Office Scandal

HOUSE administrators intervened last summer to keep the United States Capitol police from investigating possible embezzlement at the House post office, The New York Times reported Sunday.

A US grand jury is investigating criminal wrongdoing at the House, and the newspaper said that according to documents and interviews with people involved, House officials refused to let the Capitol police interview postal employees. Officials also demanded access to confidential investigative data and eventually succeeded in transferring the case to the Postal Inspection Service, the investigative arm of the US Postal Service.

Jack Russ, the House sergeant-at-arms, who has since resigned; Robert Rota, the chamber's postmaster, who resigned last week; and House Counsel Steven Ross were mentioned as the administrators who stepped in to keep police from investigating the possible embezzlement in June.

Why House officials wanted the Capitol police off the case is not clear. Administrators involved have said they thought the postal authorities were better qualified to conduct the inquiry. People familiar with the role of the Capitol police said its investigators viewed the intervention by House officials as an effort to contain the inquiry.

Three post office employees pleaded guilty to federal charges of embezzling postal funds, and a fourth is awaiting trial.

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