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Texans plead guilty to stealing more than 50,000 pieces of mail

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Two Texans pleaded guilty to stealing more than 50,000 pieces of mail and then removing checks, credits cards and other items from letters that they turned into cash and merchandise, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

Charles Hattenbach, 39 of Temple, Texas, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to steal mail, one count of bank fraud, one count of theft of government property and three counts of aggravated identity theft, they said.

His co-defendant, Kathryn Hubbert, 28 also of Temple, pleaded guilty last month to similar charges.

They could receive up to 30 years in a federal prison for bank fraud, up to five years for conspiracy to steal mail, up to 10 years for theft of government property and consecutive two-year federal prison terms for each aggravated identity theft charge, they said.

Lawyers for the two were not immediately available for comment.

Prosecutors said the two broke into U.S. post offices and mailboxes from December 2013 until March 2014 in several major Texas cities.

Using information on personal information they had taken from letters, they activated credit cards stolen from the mail and used them. The pair deposited checks and money orders and later withdrew cash, taking in more than $80,000, prosecutors said.

"We take very seriously the integrity of the U.S. mail," U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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