- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Two men who worked at a screening center for White House mail were arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing thousands of dollars, including donations to a fund for Afghan children.
Documents filed in federal court accuse the men of taking $35,000 in travelers' checks sent to the White House Federal Credit Union and an unknown amount of cash removed from thousands of letters addressed to the children's fund.
Vernon Coleman, 32, of Philadelphia, and Dane Coleman, 28, of Upper Darby, were charged with mail fraud, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News reported in yesterday's editions.
The men, who are not related, were released on bail pending an Aug. 16 hearing. Neither had a listed telephone number and it could not be determined immediately whether they had attorneys.
The pair were working for a private contractor decontaminating a "restricted" mailroom at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, where the Secret Service screens White House mail.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Beam Winter said Scaccia Construction and Environmental Services, a Scranton-area company, had been hired after anthrax-contaminated letters were sent to some lawmakers last fall.
Authorities said both men were fired last month after a supervisor suspected them of stealing money and agents learned that several thousand dollars in stolen travelers' checks had been deposited in Philadelphia banks.
In an affidavit, Secret Service agent David Deetz Jr. said Dane Coleman admitted giving his wife some of the stolen checks to deposit.
Co-workers said the two had opened and removed cash from mail addressed to America's Fund for Afghan Children, according to the affidavit.
President Bush opened the fund on Oct. 11 and asked American youngsters to send $1 each to help Afghan children. The American Red Cross, which administers the fund, earlier this year estimated that more than $4 million had been collected from more than 350,000 letters.

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