A Jacksonville mail carrier could face decades behind bars, accused of lying to residents on his mail route and talking them into giving him more than $33,000 over the last four years. Gregory Niebel allegedly repeatedly asked for money from residents for his girlfriend’s medications and told the people he’d be paying them back when she received a large settlement from a lawsuit, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But a U.S. Postal Service investigation found Niebel’s girlfriend was not sick, but healthy in Brevard County and using the money for living expenses because Niebel told her he didn’t want her to have to work, the newspaper reported.
The key to the Jacksonville Theft Case against Niebel is the fact that he allegedly told the residents the payment were loans and that he would be paying them back. The scheme to defraud charge would still be there for asking for money under false pretenses, but theft is more difficult to prove if a person does not have any expectation of getting the money or items returned. The resident who prompted the investigation gave Niebel close to $20,000, and nine others gave between a few dollars and into the thousands, the newspaper reported. He’s facing nine different charges in this Jacksonville Theft Case, the most serious being operating a scheme to defraud, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The remaining eight charges are Jacksonville theft charges and range from second-degree misdemeanors on up to third-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count. In all, Niebel could be sentenced to upwards of 35 years behind bars in these Jacksonville Theft Cases.
In Jacksonville Theft Cases, the degree of the charges – and the range of punishment – is determined by the value of the property a defendant is accused of stealing. For example, three of the charges Niebel is facing are second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by no more than six months in the county jail. That charge is petit theft of property worth less than $100. The charge becomes a first degree misdemeanor if the amount is between $100 and $300 and carries a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. When the value reaches $300, that’s when the Jacksonville Theft Case becomes a third-degree felony and puts time in state prison on the table. The charge remains a third-degree felony until more than $20,000 is stolen. Charges are also based on individual incidents, not the entire operation. So if Niebel, for example is accused of taking $350 from one person and $500 from another, he’d be facing two felonies, even though both would be part of the same overall scheme. In many Duval County Theft Cases, the state may offer a sentence far below the maximum penalty as long as the defendant agrees to pay the money back, depending on the severity of the crime and if the victims agree to that type of sentence.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.