CAMDEN — A former postal worker in New Jersey has pleaded guilty to stealing income tax refund checks worth more than $400,000 from people along his mail route.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says Earl Champagne, of Willingboro, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of theft of U.S. mail and one count of theft of government money.

Prosecutors say Champagne, who delivered mail in Pennsauken, admitted to stealing 72 U.S. Treasury checks valuing $442,776 and giving them to others, who weren't named in court documents. Fishman says those people paid Champagne $50 per stolen check, from March 2014 to July 2014.

Champagne worked for the postal service for nearly 20 years.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. His sentencing is August 3.

A message seeking comment from Champagne's lawyer wasn't returned Friday.

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