JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A United States Postal Service letter carrier is in the Duval County Jail after police say he allegedly took more than $30,000 from people on his mail route.
According to the police report, 66-year-old Gregory Niebel used a fabricated story about his fiancé's poor health to borrow the money, but he never paid them back.
Niebel was a letter carrier for the Merrill Road Post Office, a job he's done for the last 17 years.
Police believe Niebel ripped off his customers over the past four years by using phrases like, "borrow," "brain tumor," and "cancer."
According to the police report, Niebel asked Pablo "Pete" Cortez, one of his postal customers, for money to help pay for medication for his injured girlfriend and "continued asking him for money until February 2013." Cortez told police he gave Niebel a total of $19,685.
Cortez wasn't the only victim; at least 7 others reported to police that the mailman explained she was either injured, incarcerated, or diseased and near death.
In every instance, Niebel told his victim's that he planned to re-pay them as soon as his girlfriend received a settlement from a large lawsuit.
"Like an idiot, I kept giving him more and more money, kept believing this story, about this girl, needed money for this medication," Cortez said. "That's why I kept falling into this guy's traps, I didn't want the girl to die, and I kept believing the stories!"
Many people in the neighborhood said they've known Niebel a long time.
"I told him I didn't have any more, and I told him I wanted him to pay me what he owed. I said, if you don't, I'm going to the post office," said another neighbor who suspected Niebel was a fraud.
Not all the people listed in the report believe the mailman did anything wrong. One man who claims Niebel owes him thousands of dollars told Channel 4 he still has no reason to believe his friend "Greg" lied to him about the fiancé. In his view, Niebel may be the victim.
Police interviewed Niebel's girlfriend, who told police that she did not have cancer or a brain tumor. Niebel's girlfriend said she used the money he sent her for living expenses and she told police that Niebel might have made up the story because he doesn't want her to work.
Niebel is being held on charges of petit theft, grand theft and organized fraud. He will be in court to face those charges on Jan. 16, 2014.
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