United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
FORMER POSTAL SUPERVISOR FOUND GUILTY FOR LYING ON A FEDERAL WORKER’S COMPENSATION DOCUMENT STATESVILLE, N.C. – A federal jury sitting in Statesville yesterday found Joseph Catone, Jr. guilty of submitting a false writing in connection with a 2008 application he submitted to receive workman’s compensation benefits, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Richard Voorhees presided over the trial.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in announcing the guilty verdict by Paul Bowman, Area Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General (USPS –OIG).
Catone, 56, of Boone, was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2011 on two counts of false writing in connection with an application or receipt of workman=s compensation benefits for 2008 and 2009, and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent. According to evidence presented at trial, on or about July 21, 2006, Catone, while employed as a USPS supervisor at a post office in Boone, claimed that he had developed a stress-related condition as a result of excessive driving in the performance of his duties. The Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (“DOL OWCP”) accepted Catone’s claim for temporary aggravation of sleep apnea, and Catone became eligible to receive compensation benefits because of this alleged disability.
As a condition of his receipt of compensation benefits, Catone was required to periodically report, among other things, any employment, self-employment and volunteer work he had undertaken or income he had earned in the preceding fifteen months on the DOL OWCP Form EN1032 (“EN1032”). The Government’s evidence showed that, in 2008, Catone completed, signed, and submitted an EN1032 that contained materially false responses. Specifically, the defendant answered in the negative questions about whether he had been employed during the time he was receiving compensation benefits and he denied having received any type of money or other compensation for volunteer work done during that period. The Government’s evidence included checks made payable to Catone that showed he had worked for and received a salary as a custodian for Angelo Nigro, doing business as Angelo’s Maintenance, from in or around August 2006 to August 2008. Witnesses testified that they regularly saw Catone vacuum, pick up trash, and perform other cleaning services at the Hayes Performing Arts Center in Blowing Rock, N.C. The government’s evidence also showed that the defendant received $132,214.31 (gross amount) in worker’s compensation from April 2007 to September 2009.
The jury acquitted Catone of the charges related to false writing for the year 2009 and for making a false statement to a federal agent.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins thanked the prosecutive team for its dedication to this investigation, which began in May 2009. “The worker’s compensation system is in many ways an honor system, and the public expects that persons receiving these benefits will be honest about whether they’re working somewhere else while claiming to be disabled.”
“The majority of postal employees who collect workers’ compensation benefits have legitimate claims and are truly unable to perform postal jobs, however, Joseph Catone reflects a very small percentage of employees who failed to uphold the trust and integrity placed in them. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General takes these cases very serious and investigates them to the fullest extent of the law,” said Special Agent in Charge Bowman.
The defendant remains free on bond. A sentencing date for Catone has not been set yet.
The investigation of the case was handled by USPS-OIG. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth M. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.