Columbus postmaster ordered to leave office during criminal investigation

The Columbus postmaster has been ordered to leave office as inspectors launch a criminal investigation into his conduct, a spokesman said Friday.

Jerry Schafer, who was in charge of all postal operations in the city, since has sought to retire voluntarily, but that retirement would not preclude charges being brought against him later, said Sam Montalvo, a public information officer for the postal service’s Office of Inspector General.

Montalvo said Schafer was suspended Monday.

“He was told to leave the office and placed on emergency suspension, and administrative leave, pending an ongoing investigation,” the spokesman said. “I heard that he was putting in for voluntary retirement, which doesn’t stop us, of course, from pursuing criminal charges, which I believe will be presented to the United States’ attorney’s office.”

Montalvo described the alleged criminal matter as “misuse of postal government information, which is a violation of the Privacy Act.” He said he could not be more specific than that.

The Privacy Act, with some exceptions, prohibits government agencies’ collecting information on an individual beyond the scope of their authority, or conveying personal information to third parties without informing the individual and seeking his or her consent.

Schafer will not be paid while on administrative leave, Montalvo said.Were Schafer not eligible for retirement, he likely would be subject to disciplinary action, but apparently he has the years of service to retire, said Montalvo, who didn’t know how long Schafer had worked for the service.

“If he’s retirement-eligible, it must be at least 30 years,” the spokesman said.

Schafer could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.