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Originally published: 2012-03-23 09:41:22
Last modified: 2012-03-23 09:50:52

Former Boone postal supervisor found guilty

by Staff Reports

A federal jury in Statesville recently found Joseph Catone Jr., a former USPS supervisor at a post office in Boone, guilty of submitting a false writing in connection with a 2008 application he submitted to receive workman's compensation benefits.

Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. attorney for the western district of North Carolina, made the announcement, along with Paul Bowman, area special agent in charge of the U.S. Postal Service. U.S. District Judge Richard Voorhees presided over the trial. 

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.

The defendant remains free on bond. A sentencing date for Catone has not been set. 

According to evidence presented at trial, about July 21, 2006, Catone, while employed 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 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 15 months.

The government's evidence showed he signed and submitted materially false responses in 2008.

Catone 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 about 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.

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.

“The majority of postal employees who collect workers' compensation benefits have legitimate claims and are truly unable to perform postal jobs,” Bowman said in a prepared statement. “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.”