NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Three local postal workers have been charged with writing phony letters for Operation Santa for their own advantage, and stealing gifts for underprivileged children.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, the postal workers – Terry Jackson, Mahogany Strickland, and Nickyeves Saintalbord – are accused in federal charges of stealing Christmas like the Grinch in 2013.

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As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, people did not mince words when they heard the allegations.

“How could you do that to children? How do you do that to children?” said Millie Luz of the Upper West Side.

“Shameful; greedy,” said Gregory Ford of Hollis, Queens.

“Shocking,” said Kevin Baumann. “It’s disappointing to hear.”

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The annual Operation Santa Christmas drive allows the public to peruse letters sent to Santa at the James A. Farley Post Office in Manhattan, and then provide gifts requested by poor children who would otherwise have very little.

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The postal workers are charged with composing fictional letters, posing as poor kids and then making sure their letters were most prominently placed so they would be chosen.

They asked Santa for boots, laptop and tablet computers and headphones in the scam between November 2013 and January 2014, prosecutors said.

Jackson allegedly went a step further, taking 50 packages that Secret Santas dropped off for legitimate needy kids and redirecting them to his home in Queens.

Prosecutors said Mahogany Strickland redirected at least three packages containing snow boots, clothing and a toy train, to her home on, of all places, St. Nicholas Avenue.

“That’s people that deserve more than coal in their stocking,” said Jack Kohan of Del Mar, California.

The Post Office released a statement about the allegations.

“The Postal Service is deeply troubled and extremely disappointed by the recent theft allegations relating to the Operation Santa program. The Postal Service is currently reviewing all of the facts involved with this incident and we will take whatever disciplinary action is warranted. We will also cooperate fully with federal prosecutors,” the statement said. “We believe this incident is isolated and should not undermine public trust in the integrity of the Operation Santa program.”

The postal workers are charged with conspiracy and mail fraud, and are on the naughty list for possible termination.

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