A former Philadelphia postwoman was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison for his role in selling about $20,000 worth of gasoline bought with U.S. Postal Service gas cards to hundreds of friends, neighbors, and strangers.

Steven Gilbert, 23, a part-time letter carrier based at the Market Square Post Office, was also jailed for participating in an effort to smuggle 57 pounds of marijuana through the mails.

In the gas scheme, Gilbert or an accomplice, Richard Boykin, would go to a gas station and pump gas for customers, using the government cards and selling the gas at half the posted price. The scheme ran from December 2006 through fall 2008, Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise S. Wolf said.

Gilbert was convicted at trial; Boykin pleaded guilty and is in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe said she hoped Gilbert's sentence would serve as a deterrent. - Nathan Gorenstein