Gay retired SF postal inspector pens memoir

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday September 28, 2022
Share this Post:
Retired U.S. postal inspector Marius Greenspan stands outside the Castro district post office. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Retired U.S. postal inspector Marius Greenspan stands outside the Castro district post office. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Some of the stories are literally ripped from the headlines, as a number of cases Marius Greenspan worked on over his three-decade career with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service generated newspaper headlines across the country. They ranged from a national scheme that profited from having gay men with HIV obtain multiple life insurance policies to a Cajun chef involved in a Ponzi scheme.

Others are amusing tales such as the time Greenspan busted a Wisconsin grandmother selling used stamps or when he recruited his mother to assist in one investigation by going undercover. Greenspan has collected 16 of some of his favorite cases into a memoir he self-published this summer.

He modeled it after one of his favorite TV shows, "Perry Mason." Each chapter could serve as one episode of the legal drama that aired on CBS from 1957 to 1966.

The book was borne of his boredom in retirement. His federal law enforcement career ended in 2016 when he retired that September to care for his ailing mother in Florida.

"I wasn't planning to publish a book. I was only doing this to pass the time," said Greenspan, 65, of putting down on paper the stories he had long recounted about the various cases he had worked.

He started sharing the chapters with friends, who encouraged him to compile them into a book. It turned into his 181-page memoir "Tales of a Gay Postal Inspector: You Can't Make This Stuff Up!"

While the cases are all real, Greenspan made the decision to change the names of the people he had a hand in arresting for mail fraud or other federal charges. He also notes in the book's prologue that, over the course of his career, he met fewer than six other gay federal law enforcement officers.

"I used to tell people that I was not a gay Postal Inspector, but rather a Postal Inspector who happened to be gay," Greenspan, who first moved to San Francisco in 1991, notes in the book.

Long career with postal service

Greenspan grew up in Skokie, Illinois and, at the age of 19, landed a job as a postal clerk in 1976. He also focused on earning a college degree at Northwestern University. It was required of anyone wanting to be a postal inspector, which Greenspan won promotion to in 1983 and was sent to Milwaukee.

"It was simply wonderful. I really loved what I did for a living," said Greenspan during a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "I was really good at it. I put a lot of bad guys away."

As it was a potentially dangerous job, Greenspan did carry a gun and worked closely with other law enforcement officers, both at the federal, state, and local levels, when going to apprehend suspects. He recounts in his book the time when he and a colleague happened upon a carjacking outside a county courthouse and were able to intervene to protect the couple that had been taken hostage.

"Over the course of my career I got into some hairy situations," said Greenspan, who lives by Mission Dolores Park on the edge of the city's LGBTQ Castro district.

The types of crimes postal inspectors work on run the gamut, said Greenspan, from worker compensation fraud cases and mail theft to the sale of narcotics via the mail service. They also investigate any interstate fraud conducted using private shipping companies.

"It doesn't need to be about things mailed," he explained.

Most people are unaware of the job a postal inspector does, said Greenspan, whose book pulls back the curtain on the profession for readers. They have long been part of the country's mail service, with today's candidates required to complete a 16-week academy training program in Potomac, Maryland.

"Going back to the Pony Express days there have been postal inspectors," said Greenspan.

His career with the agency ended when he transferred to the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as SIGTARP, set up during the financial crisis of 2008. Living in Washington, D.C. at the time, and wanting to return to the Bay Area, Greenspan applied to work for the new agency in its San Francisco office.

He was hired as a special agent for SIGTARP and started there in the fall of 2010. Six years later he retired with a wealth of stories kicking around in his head, so many that he is considering writing a second book.

"I have enough cases," said Greenspan.

Though it wasn't his aim, if someone is inspired to become a postal inspector after reading his book, Greenspan hopes they do pursue such a career.

"I didn't write the book to suddenly publicize postal inspectors and what we do. I wrote it to pass the time and share interesting stories," he said. "If someone reads it and thinks maybe they should apply, great!"

Any profits from the book Greenspan is putting toward the Evelyn Greenspan Scholarship Fund he set up in his mother's honor at her alma mater, Cornell University, after she died in 2019 two months shy of turning 99. His book is dedicated to her, a "lovely angel in my life," writes Greenspan.

His book costs $9.99 and can be purchased online.

Fabulosa Books at 489 Castro Street will host a book signing with Greenspan from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, October 24.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.