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A former postal worker indicted in federal court for stealing gift cards and personal checks from mail drop boxes around Salt Lake County has pleaded guilty to the crimes.

Jacob Ford MacFarlane on Tuesday pleaded guilty to one count of felony mail theft and one count of possession of stolen postal service keys. The 36-year-old Draper man faces up to 5 years in prison for mail theft and up to 10 years in prison for the stolen keys charge when he is sentenced on May 17 before U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups.

MacFarlane, who resigned from the U.S. Postal Service in April, admitted to stealing keys to access mail boxes.

Postal investigators began monitoring MacFarlane after several reports of stolen mail, including a $500 money order sent by a West Valley City resident in October. Investigators tracked it to a Check City, where MacFarlane had altered it to be payable to him, according to the indictment filed in February.

He admitted to stealing mail more than 25 times and said he went through cards and letters for gift cards and cash, the indictment states. He told postal inspectors that he gave his ex-wife 10 to 15 stolen gift cards in lieu of child support.

Investigators recovered more than 500 pieces of stolen mail from his home, according to the indictment.

MacFarlane also admitted to stealing mail from the Murray and Cottonwood Heights post offices as well as from a blue collection box outside a Smith's at 5400 South and 700 West. He confessed to throwing one of the boxes of stolen mail at the side of a Harmon's grocery store, where police recovered a 9 mm handgun that MacFarlane identified as his, the indictment states.

MacFarlane told investigators he stole two postal keys, one when he resigned from his job and the second from a sister who is a Postal Service worker. Following his arrest, he hid the keys in crevices in the back seat of a Draper patrol car, but investigators found them, the indictment states.

MacFarlane was originally indicted on six counts of felony mail theft by a U.S. Postal employee, five counts of felony theft of mail, and one count of bank fraud and possession of stolen mail keys. He entered a plea to lesser charges as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors.

MacFarlane will stay in the custody of U.S. Marshals as he awaits sentencing.