Mail carrier accused of stealing vet's drugs

A postal worker charged with stealing painkillers from a military veteran on his mail route pleaded not guilty Friday to a nine-count federal indictment in U.S. District Court here.

Michael Murdock faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of misappropriation of postal funds and up to five years on each count of theft of stolen mailed matter.

Murdock is free on bond as he awaits his June 19 trial date.

The federal indictment alleges that, while working for the post office near Petersburg, Tenn., he stole $11,562 that was under his control.

The document also states that on seven occasions between March 26, 2010, and Jan. 3, 2011, he took hydrocodone tablets prescribed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for Liggie Arthur Phelps, who lived on Poor Grab Chestnut Ridge Road, part of Murdock's mail route.

The Marshall County Tribune newspaper reported in January 2011 that county Detective Sam Bragg searched a farmhouse owned by Murdock at 1804 Brown Shop Road after receiving complaints from Phelps about not receiving his medication.

Investigators treated a box to be mailed with "clue spray," which is invisible under normal light but shows up under fluorescent lighting, Bragg told the paper. During the search, Bragg used lighting to detect if Murdock had handled the package.

"He was glowing," Bragg told the Tribune.

Murdock has hired local attorney Larry Crane to represent him.