California postal worker sentenced to 18 months in prison for theft, passing counterfeit bills

OAKLAND, Calif. – Emmanuel Odion Esezobor was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $39,973.62 in restitution for stealing public money and passing counterfeit U.S. obligations, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

Esezobor, 51 of Hayward, Calif., was convicted by a jury on Oct. 27, 2011, after a three-day trial on one count of theft of public money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641, and seven counts of passing counterfeit U.S. obligations, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472. During the trial, evidence showed that, in February and March 2011, Esezobor issued himself $13,800 worth of U.S. postal money orders and purported to pay for those money orders with counterfeit $100 bills. The evidence further showed that Esezobor knew these bills were counterfeit and had passed similar counterfeit bills at his credit union in Hayward in November 2010.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken. At sentencing, Judge Wilken found that the defendant stole a total amount of $43,500 from the Alamo Post Office. As a result, she ordered restitution in the amount of $39,973.62, the remaining balance owed to the Alamo Post Office. Judge Wilken also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release. The defendant will begin serving his sentence on March 13, 2012.

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

Brian Lewis and Joshua Hill are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted 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.