INDIANAPOLIS — A former Indianapolis postal worker will serve more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing $1.7 million worth of checks from the mail.

James Lancaster, 42, was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail theft.

Lancaster was one of three men who took part in the scheme.

According to court records, Lancaster would steal the checks out of the mail while working at the New Augusta Post Office in Indianapolis between May 11, 2020, and June 23, 2021. Lancaster would hand over the stolen checks to Jordan McPhearson of Blue Island, Illinois.

McPhearson along with another Illinois man, Lavaris Yarbrough, would fraudulently negotiate the stolen checks and get them deposited into an account other than the intended payee, according to the documents. Lancaster would receive cash payments in return for providing the checks.

The investigation into the conspiracy uncovered that Lancaster stole more than 270 pieces of U.S. mail while working at the New Augusta Post Office, according to the court documents. The checks stolen from the mail were from more than 50 different businesses including a non-profit dedicated to cancer research. In total, the value of the stolen checks was estimated to be approximately $1.7 million.

McPhearson was sentenced last year to 42 months in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

Yarbrough is set to be sentenced in September.

Both Lancaster and McPhearson were ordered to pay $88,376.12 in restitution as part of their sentencing.