Skip to main content
Press Release

Buffalo Woman Charged In Federal Court With Assault For Spitting On A Postal Employee And Claiming To Have The Coronavirus

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Melissa C. Daniels-Johnson, 39, of Buffalo, New York, was charged in a criminal complaint with assault of a federal employee and threatening to assault a federal employee. The charges carry a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.

“Any individual who threatens or attempts to use the COVID-19 virus as a weapon as alleged here deserves—and should expect—a strong dose of justice,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “For a person to spit on a public servant is beyond vile and disgusting—it is criminal. No matter who they are or what they do, the brave men and women who continue to serve others during this pandemic deserve our respect, admiration, and protection. Whether doctors, nurses, police officers, grocery clerks, letter carriers, transit workers, or anyone else providing an essential service, my message to you is simple, you have our thanks, and we have your backs.”  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on March 19, 2020, at approximately 6:50 p.m., Postal Inspectors and Cheektowaga Police officers were called to the Cheektowaga Branch Post Office, located at 125 Galleria Drive in Cheektowaga, NY, for a report of a United States Postal Service letter carrier who had been verbally abused and spit upon by a female USPS customer. The incident occurred while the letter carrier was collecting the mail from the blue collection boxes situated in front of the Cheektowaga Post Office.

The letter carrier stated that while he was collecting mail, the defendant drove into the postal parking lot through the exit driveway, and drove against one-way traffic. He advised Daniels-Johnson that she entered the lot the wrong way. In response, she started screaming profanities at him, and threatened to cough on him to give him the Coronavirus. The manager of the Cheektowaga Branch Post Office tried to calm Daniels-Johnson and de-escalate the situation, but she remained very aggressive and abusive. As the defendant began to pull away, she pulled near the mailboxes, where the letter carrier was working, and pointed a cellphone at him and said, “This is the (expletive) right here, so you know what he looks like.” The letter carrier said the defendant told him that she was sending her husband to “(expletive) him up,” and told him that he was not going to “know what hit” him. The letter carrier said that he heard the male on the other end of the call tell Daniels-Johnson, “I don't think you should be saying things like this to a mail man.” The letter carrier said Daniels-Johnson replied with more derogatory remarks and expletives, adding that the letter carrier “ain't gonna do (expletive),” and then spit at him. The letter carrier used a mail bucket to shield his face, but the spit got all over his shorts and on his right leg. The woman sped away. The letter carrier went inside and removed his clothing. He was very concerned because of the defendant’s comment about Coronavirus.

The defendant is scheduled to make an initial appearance on April 27, 2020, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer.

The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Attorneys appointed Coronavirus Fraud Coordinators to work with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to protect the public from scammers who are attempting to prey upon fears. The Department is also committed to preventing hoarding and price gouging for critical supplies during this crisis. To address this, Attorney General Barr created the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division, and the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Sliwinski.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.   

# # # #

Updated April 14, 2020