A former employee of one of the U.S. post office branches in Granville pleaded guilty last week in federal court to a misdemeanor charge for stealing more than $3,500 while working at the post office.

Whitehall resident Anthony Huntington pleaded guilty on Oct. 4 to a misdemeanor theft charge in U.S. District Court in Albany.

He had been indicted on a felony theft charge in August but agreed to a plea deal that required him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with the understanding the felony charge would be dropped.

Huntington was a part-time clerk at one of the post office branches in Granville when he allegedly stole $3,500.07 between Feb. 4, 2009, and March 3 of this year. Federal court records did not specify whether he worked in the village of Granville, Middle Granville or North Granville post office branch. Both the U.S. Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case, and the U.S. Postal Service were closed for the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.

Federal court records show Huntington rang up 184 fraudulent "service not rendered" refunds in the post office's computer system over the 13-month period, pocketing $25 or less each time.

Court records did not detail how the theft was discovered, but he is no longer employed by the agency.

Huntington faces up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced on Jan. 14.

Tucker Stanclift, Huntington's lawyer, said his client had a "viable defense" to the charges but opted to take a plea deal to avoid the possibility of a prison term. Stanclift would not elaborate on what the defense was.

"In these types of cases, all the government really wants is to leverage the system to get restitution," Stanclift said. "He thought it would be in his best interest to accept responsibility and make restitution."

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