News and Press Releases

Holyoke, Massachusetts Man Indicted for Allegedmurder of Melissa Barratt in Dummerstonand a Drug Conspiracy in Brattleboro Area

August 29, 2012

Burlington, VT – Tristram Coffin, the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, stated today that the federal Grand Jury in Rutland has returned a two-count indictment alleging that Frank Caraballo, 30, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, used a firearm in relation to a drug distribution conspiracy and murdered 
Melissa Barratt. The Indictment also alleges that from March 2011 through July 2011 Caraballo conspired to distribute heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine.

Melissa Barratt's body was discovered in a wooded area off East West Road in Dummerston, Vermont on July 29, 2011. Caraballo was initially charged in state court in Brattleboro with second degree murder but that case was dismissed without prejudice in light of the federal drug and firearms investigation. According to Court documents filed in connection with the State case, Caraballo had accused Barratt of stealing a significant amount of drugs from his room at the Super 8 Motel in Brattleboro. When Barratt did not return the drugs, Caraballo took her to Dummerston and shot her in the head.

Caraballo is currently detained and awaiting federal sentencing on his guilty plea to crack cocaine distribution charges stemming from sales of crack cocaine in Brattleboro in July 2011.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If Caraballo is convicted on the murder charge, as charged in the Indictment, he faces a maximum of life imprisonment. If he is convicted on the drug conspiracy charge, he is subject to a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum of life imprisonment, and up to a $10,000,000 fine. If the United States files an information alleging that Caraballo has had at least two prior felony drug offenses, Caraballo could face a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

This case is being jointly investigated by the Vermont State Police, the Southeast Vermont Drug Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The United States Attorney commends the exemplary work of the state and federal law enforcement agencies jointly investigating this matter. In addition, the United States Attorney stated that the investigation was greatly facilitated by the assistance of the office of Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver.

The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Van de Graaf, Joseph Perella and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Brown. Brown is a Windham County Deputy State's Attorney, who was appointed to work on the federal prosecution with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Caraballo is represented by Mark Kaplan, Esq. of Burlington.

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