California postal worker convicted in money order theft scheme

OAKLAND, Calif. – Emmanuel Odion Esezobor was convicted by a federal jury yesterday of one count of theft of public money and seven counts of passing counterfeit U.S. obligations, United States Attorney Melinda Haag, Special Agent in Charge Nichole Cooper of the Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Pacific Area Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Andrew Adelmann of the U.S. Secret Service San Francisco Field Office announced.

The jury found that Esezobor stole $13,800 from the U.S. Postal Service and passed counterfeit bills at the Alamo Post Office on seven different days in February and March 2011. The guilty verdict followed a 3-day jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken.

Evidence at trial showed that Esezobor, 51 of Hayward, Calif., issued himself $13,800 worth of U.S. postal money orders and purported to pay for those money orders with counterfeit $100 bills. Esezobor knew these bills were counterfeit and had passed similar counterfeit bills at his credit union in Hayward in November 2010.

“Today’s verdict sends a clear message that theft by a postal employee is a very serious crime and will not be tolerated,” Special Agent in Charge Cooper of the Postal Service Office of Inspector General said. “The overwhelming majority of Postal Service employees are honest, trustworthy individuals. But when a postal employee, such as Mr. Esezobor, betrays that trust, Postal Service Office of Inspector General Special Agents vigorously investigate those matters. This conviction reflects the continuing commitment of both the OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring to account those who violate the law.”

Special Agent in Charge Adelmann of the Secret Service added, “This verdict reinforces the effectiveness law enforcement partnerships and collaboration on joint investigations has on addressing serious violations of federal law.”

Esezobor was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 14, 2011.

The sentencing of Esezobor is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2011, before U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland. The maximum statutory penalty for theft of public money, in violation 18 U.S.C. § 641, is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of passing counterfeit U.S. obligations, in violation 18 U.S.C. § 472, is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Brian Lewis and Joshua Hill are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Noble Hughes, Janice Pagsanjan, and Vanessa Vargas. The prosecution is the result of a year-long investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Secret Service.

via Press Release – United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California.