John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Matthew Modafferi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, today announced that, on September 18, 2018, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned a five-count indictment charging JAMES LEBEL, 40, of no certain address, and MICHELLE BARBEAU, 51, of Brooklyn, Conn., with offenses related to the theft of U.S. Postal money orders.
LEBEL was arrested yesterday and is detained pending a hearing that is scheduled for September 26. BARBEAU was arrested today and was released on a $100,000 bond.
As alleged in the indictment, BARBEAU was employed by the U.S. Postal Service at the Wauregan Post Office in Plainfield. Between April and September 2017, LEBEL and BARBEAU conspired to take blank U.S. Postal money orders from the Wauregan Post Office and imprint them in various denominations. LEBEL then cashed more than $60,000 in fraudulently imprinted postal money orders at other post offices.
The indictment charges LEBEL and BARBEAU with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictment also charges LEBEL with four counts of wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Miller.