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HOUSE POST OFFICE WAS FAVOR MILL, PANEL SAYS

A federal grand jury charges the House Post Office operated as a favor mill for lawmakers, whose personal checks were cashed and campaign donations were delivered by congressional employees on government time.

The staff of one House member was permitted to use a taxpayer-financed express mail account to send personal items to the lawmaker's home district, according to the indictment handed up Thursday.The indictment significantly expanded public knowledge about the investigation by making clear prosecutors were interested in the special privileges members received from the post office.

The indictment said there was a conspiracy between post office employees and "legislative officials" to defraud the government.

The three-count indictment named only one defendant: former House Post Office chief of staff Joanna G. O'Rourke.

An attorney for O'Rourke said she would plead guilty to the two misdemeanors and cooperate with prosecutors.