James Ludwig of Fairport is still facing federal charges for allegedly stealing cash and gift cards during the holiday season from mail pieces on his Victor route.

A U.S. Postal Service carrier accused of stealing cash and gift cards from holiday mail has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance in a case being handled separately from the federal matter.

James Ludwig, 45, of Fairport, entered his plea Thursday in Victor Town Court before Justice Reid. Ludwig remains free on his own recognizance, due to reappear March 15.

Ludwig was charged Jan. 29 by state police who allege he was in possession of morphine at the Victor Post Office on Jan. 12 where they went to assist federal agents in an investigation into missing mail.

Ludwig is also charged with theft of mail matter by a postal employee. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York announced Jan. 24 that it had charged Ludwig with stealing mail while working as a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service on a route in the northern part of Victor.

The U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, began an investigation Dec. 27 after being notified of complaints from the U.S. Postal Service in Victor about missing mail.

As part of the investigation, Ludwig was allegedly seen by agents on video surveillance cameras leaving his route to go to the address of someone who had redeemed one of the stolen cards, removing items from pieces of mail in his mail bag and putting them into his lunch box, and preparing two lines of a white powdery substance he appeared to snort through a rolled dollar bill.

In connection with the federal case, Ludwig made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman and was released on a number of conditions. He is scheduled to reappear before Feldman on March 13 for a status hearing.