An upper-level official with the U.S. Postal Service office responsible for mail-in ballot security who was appointed by Joe Biden was arrested this week after being caught on camera in a child sex sting.
Russell Pappel-Schmid, 52, was caught attempting to meet who he believed to be a 14-year-old boy for sex in San Diego.
He had been appointed as the Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). That office is responsible for running the commission’s data management and ensuring USPS compliance with the federal OPEN Government Data Act.
As part of the sting operation, Rappel-Schmid was captured on video saying, “I’m a pedophile.”
The operation leading to the arrest was carried out by a private group named “People v. Preds.” The group says that it works to catch “online predators who prey on children.” Its members pretend to be young teenagers on dating sites and agree to meet in person with adults who appear to be attempting to lure children into sexual encounters.
The group then confronts the alleged pedophiles at agreed meeting places and records the encounters.
People v. Preds posted a video of Rappel-Schmid sitting at an outdoor dining area in downtown San Diego when he is confronted. He denied knowing why the person making the video had a picture of him, knew his name, and knew where he would be sitting at the agreed upon time.
The group posted another video showing Rappel-Schmid being arrested by San Diego Harbor Police officers in his hotel room. Arrest records indicate he was apprehended on suspicion of “attempting to meet a minor for lewd purposes.”
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced that Rappel-Schmid was released from the San Diego Central Jail facility early Tuesday after his Monday arrest. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, July 18.
Reports indicate that Rappel-Schmid was in the city for a business conference at the time he attempted to arrange the meeting he believed was for sex with a 14-year-old.
The PRC terminated Rappel-Schmid from his position following his arrest. It issued a statement saying that he was terminated “effective immediately” after learning of the arrest. It added that the PRC is “shocked and horrified at these serious allegations and maintains a steadfast commitment to promptly deal with any claims of employee misconduct.”
Rappel-Schmid’s employee profile has also been removed from the official PRC website. He had joined the commission in May after serving as the first chief data officer for the State of Alaska.
He also worked previously for the office of the USPS Inspector General as a data analyst and audit manager.