This catalogues our experience of intimidation, stalking, and harassment from carriers and leadership of the Arlington, MA USPS since September 2015. We hope that making this public creates the level of accountability necessary to provide fellow citizens better treatment by this government agency.
We have spent a lot of time and money trying to address this problem via official channels only to be ignored or blamed for this situation. USPS’ poor handling of this matter is absolutely disgusting and it has taken a toll on both us professionally and emotionally.
Our goals are simple:
- permanant removal of these bad actors from serving our neighborhood
- a criminal investigation into their behavior
- a formal apology from USPS Leadership
During the summer of 2015 my wife Heather had a lot of packages ordered from retailers like Amazon handled by USPS which came in late and had misleading tracking information. By the time August came around she was really frustrated and filed a complaint on the USPS Support web site, which contained the phrase that ‘the USPS sucks ass’.
Inappropriate Behavior and Harassment by carrier Sharon Demirdjian
Around a week later our carrier Sharon A. Demirdjian came to my house with a copy of the complaint in hand and screamed at my wife while I was at work. We followed up with USPS Support by phone requesting she be removed from the route immediately due to this outrageous behavior. The support organization said they would remove her- Arlington USPS said that they won’t, on the basis of union constraints on how routes are assigned/changed.
The simple fact that the Arlington USPS allowed this bully to come to our house after that incident made this conflict escalate needlessly. This carrier screamed at my wife an additional time and threw packages at our front door. Packages failed to be delivered on time. I scheduled multiple conference calls with management to try to handle this situation and get her removed. When that failed, I decided to record video of my front door using a homegrown automated system to prove her misconduct.
In January 2016 I filed an online complaint asking for senior assistance on this matter as I was getting nowhere. I included some photos of a package and an unlisted Youtube video of Sharon.
The response to this was absolutely surreal. Mail was stopped to our house, and Postal Inspectors were dispatched to our home to interrogate us and pressure us to stop recording our front door. From that moment this customer service issue became a civil rights issue. Our First Amendment rights were being violated and my wife was being subjected to repeat harassment.
- Sharon Demirdjian started to photograph my wife and our home in June 2016. She also stopped delivering to our home and prevented incoming and outgoing mail from being delivered in a timely manner.
- Multiple mail carriers joined in and drove by the front of our home engaging in mocking behavior and recording my wife with cell phones. It got so bad that I had to cancel a trip to a friend’s wedding because of how stressful it was for my wife.
- We filed a formal grievance in June 2016 and recieved no formal acknowledgement until March 2017, which was simply the response that we didn’t submit the grievance correctly.
- Sharon Demirdjian loudly called Heather a ‘dyke’ from her vehicle over 100 feet away. From that moment, Arlington USPS removed her from serving our house but not our immediate neighborhood.
Harassment and Stalking by carrier Alan Hodgkins
- Alan Hodgkins, a male carrier that isn’t assigned to our home got involved in Summer 2016, who engaged in taping Heather, stalking behavior, and called the police on my wife when she attempted to get his truck number to gather evidence.
- Hodgkins parked in a no parking zone within view of our home for extended periods of time, blocking access to a nearby park and preventing leaving the home without being noticed. (1, 2, 3, 4)
- My landlord got a harassing phone call by an unnamed male member of USPS personnel.
- Arlington USPS leadership was a revolving door. We’ve had 4 managers since the beginning of this problem and my lawyer had to contact each new manager to get them up to speed.
- Packages came damaged, suggesting tampering by human hands. (1, 2)
- Alan Hodgkins tailgated us in his mail truck when we were driving in our neighborhood.
- Alan Hodgkins starts to drive by our home more and more often and starts to appear more often near Heather. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Demirdjian and Hodgkins gossiped with our neighbors about this conflict in an attempt to have them work against us.
- Hodgkins starts to tape Heather.
Things came to a head in February 2017 when we posted a sign in our backyard telling Alan Hodgkins to stop harassing and taping my wife, and I then yelled at him to cut it out when he continued. Our mail, and the mail of every neighbor within visual range of our house got their mail stopped. Three weeks later postal inspectors arrived at our house again. My lawyer managed to get a meeting between us and 3 levels of leadership, mostly due to the fact that we reached out to Postmaster General Megan Brennan.
In that meeting, Boston Postmaster Nicholas Francescucci promised that he would address these problems and that we would ‘start over’.
To ensure that Francescucci kept to his promise, I expanded the surveillance system to consist of 3 1080p cameras that monitor all paths that pass by our home for the front and back, and began to closely document USPS activity in view of our home.
Mail was once again turned back on. However, Demirdjian and Hodgkins were not removed from routes near our home and the behavior of the bad actors did not change.
Between February 24 and May 8 2017, we saw that Francescucci did not fulfill his promise.
- Francescucci attempted to return Demirdjian to serving our house again, even in light of the harassment and mail tampering/withholding evidence that my lawyer provided him.
- Hodgkins appeared behind our house 142 times over a total of 54 days he was working. He appeared in view of our home 5 times on March 17th, and 6 times on April 13th.
- Hodgkins used his mail truck to intimidate, follow, and watch Heather as she picked me up from a bus stop that I use 3 days a week on my commute home. (1, 2, 3)
We decided to file a Harassment Prevention Order against Hodgkins. On May 8, Heather was awarded the HPO.
US Attorney Jason Weida representing the USPS removed the case to Federal Court. In addition, without warning, the harassment prevention order was vacated on June 5th. Hodgkins took the opportunity to create a scene and get neighbors involved when Heather was attempting to get Arlington PD to execute the order, unbenownst to her was null and void.
From this moment, Heather had no protection from Hodgkins, in either State or Federal levels.
We attended a Federal Hearing against the USPS on Aug 1st 2017. The USPS contends that since Hodgkins is a Federal employee and he was doing these things while on the job, he is immune from suit due to Soverign Immunity. This style of defense (remove from State Court, move to dismiss in Federal Court citing immunity) has been employed in the past commonly for Federal law enforcement officers, not postal carriers.
While Judge Saris deliberated on whether USPS’ Motion to Dismiss was valid, Hodgkins and Demirdjian were both barred from delivering near our home without prior notice from the USPS. We hoped that regardless of the outcome we would get some needed peace. We were wrong.
In October 2017 we decided with the guidance of our lawyer to return to our usual routine of me riding the bus to my neighborhood and Heather picking me up near the bus stop. While the case was pending, Hodgkins resumed and intensified his stalking behavior, making it impossible for us to live normal life. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) Due to this, I was compelled to install dashcams on all four sides of our vehicle as he started to approach us from the sides of our vehicle, making our front and rear dashcams ineffective in documenting his abuses.
On January 9th, 2018 we learned that the Federal Case was dismissed on the grounds of sovereign immunity and that we did not ‘exhaust our claim’ using the Federal Tort Claims Act. In other words, you can’t file a Restraining Order or a Harassment Prevention Order against a Federal Employee, and you can’t pursue the matter at all without first filing a grievance under the FTCA asking for money.
Finally, on February 12, 2018 he followed Heather to the bus stop and then called the police on her when he parked next to her and she started to film his actions with her cellular phone, which is a Constitutionally-protected action. We believe he is retaliating for the HPO and Federal Case lodged against him.
- Heather has dealt with ever-intensifying anxiety and depression due to her experiences. She sees a therapist often as a result. She’s rendered unable to pursue her career as an artist and blogger. She has gained weight which further adds insult to injury emotionally. She recoils at a sight of a mail truck and instinctively looks for the truck number to see it it is Al Hodgkins. She can accurately hear the sound of mail trucks driving in the neighborhood without looking.
- I have dealt with similar emotional issues as well. I also see a therapist. This is a huge source of distraction when I am at work. It has been a source of many missed days at work. It is a source of anxiety when I commute home from the office.
- Heather and I both undergo couples therapy to address the strain these experiences have on our marriage.
- I have spent several months in the last year working from home in an attempt to avoid Alan Hodgkins and police action from the USPIS. During that time Heather and I would seldom leave home. When we attempt to return to normal life, harassment and stalking immediately starts again.
- We currently have our windows and blinds shut to prevent Alan Hodgkins from seeing into our home.
- We have collectively spent many hundreds of hours going over the home surveillance footage to collect evidence to substantiate our claims and to produce this website.
- We sustained a significant financial impact in order to maintain legal representation throughout these events. Our tenth year anniversary was spent near home rather than going on a planned trip. Our financial plans and long-term goals are effectively on-hold.