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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Vermont

For Immediate Release

September 13, 2012

Tristram Coffin, United States Attorney


Holyoke, Massachusetts Man Arraigned on Melissa Barratt Murder Charges and Sentenced to 200 Months Imprisonment for Crack Cocaine Distribution in Brattleboro Area

The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont stated today that Chief Judge Christina Reiss in U.S. District Court in Rutland sentenced Frank Caraballo, 30, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, to 200 months of imprisonment and a life term of supervised release for distributing crack cocaine in the Brattleboro area in July 2011.

Caraballo also pled not guilty to recent charges that he was involved in a larger drug conspiracy and used a firearm in furtherance of a drug distribution conspiracy to murder Melissa Barratt. That two-count Indictment, returned on August 29, 2012, by the Rutland federal grand jury, 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.

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 ATF. 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.