Thursday, 30 May 2024

Federal agents serve warrants at Upper Lake business, residence

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Special agents with the US Postal Service Office of the Inspector General served search warrants at Upper Lake resident Aileen Krewson's business, My Sister's Attic and Bargain Basement, and her home on Friday, June 5, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

 

 

UPPER LAKE – Federal law enforcement agents served search warrants on an Upper Lake woman's downtown business and her nearby residence on Friday morning.


Neighbors said several federal agents with weapons arrived at about 8 a.m. and entered My Sister's Attic and Bargain Basement, located in Suite A at 9485 Main St.


The business, which rents its downtown storefront, is owned by Aileen Krewson. The antique and gift shop marked its grand opening on April 25 with a Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting.


A short time after one set of agents arrived at the business, others appeared at Krewson's home on First and Government streets, where they held her in custody for most of the day while they searched her home.


The investigation is under the auspices of the US Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, said Special Patricia Ford-Smith, who was at the business along with several other special agents wearing dark blue vests that said “police” and “federal agent.”


Ford-Smith confirmed the service of the search warrants at Krewson's home and business. Neither warrant was drug-related, she said.


No arrests were being made on Friday, Ford-Smith added.


Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said the search warrant service wasn't being assisted by local authorities, and that they hadn't been notified it was taking place.


Krewson, a former Postal Service employee, told Lake County News that at around 8:30 a.m., after her boyfriend left for his job in Willits, she saw agents running down the street.


They completely circled her home; she said when she started to open the door to ask what was going on, agents – their weapons drawn – pushed in the door, knocking her backwards.


The special agents kept her in custody in her home from 8:30 a.m. until about 3 p.m. She said her boyfriend also was held by three agents at his workplace.


When he was allowed to return home late in the day, Krewson said 12 agents met him in the driveway and made him enter the house through the backyard, where she was able to speak with him for the first time since he left earlier in the day.


Krewson estimated about 12 to 15 agents total were in her house; four monitored her in the kitchen while the rest searched the home.


“They want to try to get me for workers compensation fraud,” said Krewson, who has had a long-running workers compensation case against the US Postal Service due to arm injuries suffered on the job, including a badly torn right rotator cuff that required surgery.


She said they took two books on dolls from her downtown shop; from her home they took some workers compensation files.


Regina J. King, assistant special agent in charge with the US Postal Service Office of the Inspector General's Pacific area field office in Oakland, said the federal search warrant and affidavit served at Krewson's business currently are under seal, and therefore she was unable to release any additional information or details at this time.


Office of the Inspector General special agents investigate crimes against the Postal Service and those involving postal employees and contractors, King said.


Krewson worked as a window clerk in two post offices in Hemet, located in Riverside County.


She won a December 2000 case against the US Postal Service, which had tried to withhold $59.58 from her salary to recover a shortage in her window credit account found the previous December, according to case records obtained by Lake County News.


In that case, her co-workers supplied written statements attesting to “her care and diligence in following required procedures.” She also had a clean audit history, with the one exception in the December 1999 finding.


Krewson said she took the Postal Service to court and won a case against them alleging harassment, discrimination and retaliation. But the fight for the $14,000 she said is owed to her has continued.


Along the way she said she lost her home and husband, so three years ago she moved to Upper Lake, and in April she opened her new store. “I was trying to get on with some kind of a normal life.”


Krewson said the Postal Service's motive is to get her off of workers compensation. “This is where the term 'going postal' comes from,” she said. “This is what they do.”


A female agent leading the operation reportedly made disparaging comments to Krewson's boyfriend, accusing Krewson of claiming she's being abused while she's “making a good living” at her new store.


Krewson said she's never had any legal problems – not event a speeding ticket – and added that it's humiliating that she has to prove her innocence.


She added, “This is going to force them to go to court.”


Krewson said she plans to reopen her store, and will be open on Saturday for the annual Wild West Day celebration.


King said that the information about Krewson's investigation should be made public at some point in the future, and that the case will be handled by the United States Attorney, Northern District of California.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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