You Should Know… Julie Hanlon

Photo by Lloyd Wolf
Photo by Lloyd Wolf


Julie Hanlon can make a mean matzah ball soup—and knock down your front door. Armed with a bullet-proof vest, a gun and a law degree, the 29-year-old Montgomery County resident is a US postal inspector, along with her husband, Brian.  She recently stopped by WJW’s newsroom to talk about her Jewish upbringing, her career in law enforcement and what she thinks about TV’s most famous mailman-villain.

Tell us about your Jewish upbringing?

I was raised in a Conservative home when we lived in New York. My dad was the president of South Baldwin Jewish Center, our synagogue there. My mom is currently president of B’nai Shalom in Olney. We had a pretty traditional Jewish upbringing. Oftentimes, when I was little, I would go with my grandfather to synagogue. Judaism’s always been a big part of my family’s life.

Did you always know you wanted to go into law?

I didn’t.  I was going to go into physical therapy. Biology did not go so well first semester, which seems to be the cast with many attorneys. I quickly moved over to political science as a major.

Have you gone to court? What were your best and worst experiences in court?

My best was right before I left to pursue my current career with the federal government, winning a summary judgment motion against a more senior attorney. It was a high note to leave my career on. The worst? Being talked down to by judges.

What made you interested in public service?

My dad was a postal inspector. My whole life all I’ve heard was how much he liked his job, how great it was. Now that I’m doing it, I’m glad that I am.

Did tikkun olam also play a part in your wanting to be a public servant?

It did. I was thinking about this during one of my recent cases. It’s ongoing, so I can’t talk about the specifics. But when you realize that you’re doing good, helping to catch the bad guys, it’s a really good feeling.

Is there an element of danger in what you do?

Sometimes. Not every day. I investigate mail fraud. That’s more about long term investigations, building a case. That’s where my attorney background is helpful. There is mail theft, which we need to respond to right away. Sometimes, unfortunately, carriers are assaulted.  We have to go out and look for people, make arrests, serve search warrants. You never know what you’re getting into. I wear a bullet-proof vest and knock on doors. I haven’t had to knock any down. People come to the door when we knock.

Are there other women doing what you do?

There are a lot. My team leader is female. Our chief counsel is female. One of the deputy chief postal inspectors is as well. There are a lot of strong, women leaders to look up to here.

Any downside to doing the same job as your husband?

There are pros and cons. It’s very nice to have someone who knows what you’re going through. But we both work long hours. Unlike in Pittsburgh, we have to deal with long, Washington commutes.

Simply put, what is mail fraud?

There are several statutes that govern what is mail fraud. First, there must be the use of the mail; second, if they’re using the mail to further any crime. Our big investigations, however, involve schemes with a lot of victims, a lot of dollar losses.

What is something you would want people to know about your job?

People don’t realize this about mail fraud: Elderly victims end up paying to enter foreign sweepstakes. If you’re asked to pay to enter a sweepstakes – it’s illegal. Unfortunately, people are losing thousands of dollars every day. We work to make sure this doesn’t happen. We want people to know what they’re getting into. We’re here to answer your questions and keep the community safe.

Did the character of Newman on Seinfeld – the scheming, slovenly mailman — ever get to you?

We see clips of the show in training. Obviously it’s a parody, but it’s hilarious! No, Newman never got under my skin.

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