A federal judge told a former Lincoln postal worker caught with 145 pieces of stolen mail, including one person's passport, that identity theft by someone in his position was a serious breach of the public's trust.

"Quite frankly you were lucky you got caught when you did, both for the victims' sake and your sake," U.S. District Judge John Gerrard told Domonic Harris.

For six weeks at the start of 2017, while working for the Postal Service, Harris filled out cards changing people's mailing addresses in order to get their credit card information, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Russell said at a plea agreement hearing.

Harris, who had worked at the Omaha processing and distribution center since October 2016, sent the mail to a vacant house.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office began investigating him last year based on a Waverly woman's report that her address had been changed and a credit card opened in her name without her knowledge.

An affidavit for a search warrant showed how the investigation led to Harris after he used one of the cards at a Redbox kiosk and the store's video caught his SUV on camera, then used another card at a Lincoln store and was caught on camera at the self-checkout.

Russell said investigators determined that Harris had received at least 12 credit cards in victims' names and charged about $6,000 on the cards. They also found information on his computer about how to steal identities and other victims' personal identification information.

In court Friday, Harris said he empathized with the victims because he has been the victim of identity theft himself.

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"I am fully aware of what I've done," the 45-year-old said, adding that he was deeply remorseful.

Harris said if he spends one day or 1,000 days in prison he's going to make the most of his time. He said he's been thinking about how he can make the victims whole and move forward.

Federal Public Defender John Vanderslice argued for probation, saying Harris understood he had made a serious mistake in judgment and has worked hard and found a way to put $1,000 toward restitution.

Russell argued against probation, calling the plot a well-thought-out plan to steal people's identities. If you're going to do that, he said, you should be held accountable for it.

Gerrard said incarceration was necessary as a deterrent to keep anyone else who works at the post office from doing the same thing. 

He sentenced Harris to nine months of incarceration, plus two months of supervised release, and ordered him to pay restitution of $3,688.27.

Harris can turn himself in Dec. 5.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.



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