A-15413, AUGUST 31, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 169

A-15413: Aug 31, 1926

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OF NOT TO EXCEED 25 PERCENT OF THE APPRAISED VALUE OF A SEIZED VEHICLE FORFEITED UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS WHERE SUCH SEIZED VEHICLE IS RETAINED FOR USE BY THE GOVERNMENT IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT. 1926: I HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED AUGUST 11. WAS NOT SOLD BUT WAS RETAINED FOR GOVERNMENT USE UNDER THE ACT APPROVED MARCH 3. IS SOLICITED AS TO WHETHER AWARDS MAY BE PAID IN THOSE CASES IN WHICH THE SEIZED VEHICLES ARE RETAINED FOR GOVERNMENT USE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 3. THERE IS ALSO INCLOSED HEREWITH A COPY OF A COMMUNICATION ADDRESSED TO THE DEPARTMENT BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT THE PORT OF PORT ARTHUR. THERE BEING AN EVIDENT IDEA THAT THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID IS DEPENDENT UPON SOME ACTUAL FUNDS BEING RECOVERED AS (A) IN THE CASE OF DUTIES WITHHELD.

A-15413, AUGUST 31, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 169

CUSTOMS SERVICE - REWARDS TO INFORMERS PAYMENTS OF AWARDS MAY BE MADE TO INFORMERS, UNDER SECTION 619 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 21, 1922, 42 STAT. 988, OF NOT TO EXCEED 25 PERCENT OF THE APPRAISED VALUE OF A SEIZED VEHICLE FORFEITED UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS WHERE SUCH SEIZED VEHICLE IS RETAINED FOR USE BY THE GOVERNMENT IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, AUGUST 31, 1926:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED AUGUST 11, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

I AM INCLOSING HEREWITH A COPY OF INFORMER'S CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION FILED BY ARTIE POLLOCK, BEAUMONT, TEXAS, IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEIZURE OF A REO MOTOR TRUCK USED IN THE ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF LIQUOR AND FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES.

THIS VEHICLE, HOWEVER, WAS NOT SOLD BUT WAS RETAINED FOR GOVERNMENT USE UNDER THE ACT APPROVED MARCH 3, 1925, AND THE INFORMANT REQUESTS THAT AN AWARD BE GIVEN HIM UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT ON THE BASIS OF THE APPRAISED VALUE OF THE SEIZED VEHICLE.

SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT PROVIDES THAT ANYONE---

"WHO DETECTS AND SEIZES ANY VESSEL, VEHICLE, MERCHANDISE, OR BAGGAGE SUBJECT TO SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS AND WHO REPORTS THE SAME TO AN OFFICER OF THE CUSTOMS, OR WHO FURNISHES TO A DISTRICT ATTORNEY, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, OR TO ANY CUSTOMS OFFICER ORIGINAL INFORMATION CONCERNING ANY FRAUD UPON THE CUSTOMS REVENUE, OR A VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS PERPETRATED OR CONTEMPLATED, WHICH DETECTION AND SEIZURE OR INFORMATION LEADS TO A RECOVERY OF ANY DUTIES WITHHELD, OR OF ANY FINE, PENALTY, OR FORFEITURE INCURRED, MAY BE AWARDED AND PAID BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY A COMPENSATION OF 25 PERCENTUM OF THE NET AMOUNT RECEIVED.'

YOUR OPINION, THEREFORE, IS SOLICITED AS TO WHETHER AWARDS MAY BE PAID IN THOSE CASES IN WHICH THE SEIZED VEHICLES ARE RETAINED FOR GOVERNMENT USE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925.

THERE IS ALSO INCLOSED HEREWITH A COPY OF A COMMUNICATION ADDRESSED TO THE DEPARTMENT BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT THE PORT OF PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS, AND A COPY OF THE DEPARTMENT'S REPLY THERETO.

THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 21, 1922, 42 STAT. 988, PROVIDES:

SEC. 619. AWARD OF COMPENSATION.--- ANY PERSON NOT AN OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES WHO DETECTS AND SEIZES ANY VESSEL, VEHICLE, MERCHANDISE, OR BAGGAGE SUBJECT TO SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS AND WHO REPORTS THE SAME TO AN OFFICER OF THE CUSTOMS, OR WHO FURNISHES TO DISTRICT ATTORNEY, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, OR TO ANY CUSTOMS OFFICER ORIGINAL INFORMATION CONCERNING ANY FRAUD UPON THE CUSTOMS REVENUE, OR A VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS PERPETRATED OR CONTEMPLATED, WHICH DETECTION AND SEIZURE OR INFORMATION LEADS TO A RECOVERY OF ANY DUTIES WITHHELD, OR OF ANY FINE, PENALTY, OR FORFEITURE INCURRED, MAY BE AWARDED AND PAID BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY A COMPENSATION OF 25 PERCENTUM OF THE NET AMOUNT RECOVERED, BUT NOT TO EXCEED $50,000 IN ANY CASE, WHICH SHALL BE PAID OUT OF MONEYS APPROPRIATED FOR THAT PURPOSE. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, AN AMOUNT RECOVERED UNDER A BAIL BOND SHALL BE DEEMED A RECOVERY OF A FINE INCURRED.

THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, 43 STAT. 1116, PROVIDES:

THAT HEREAFTER ANY VESSEL OR VEHICLE SUMMARILY FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS MAY, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS HE MAY PRESCRIBE, BE TAKEN AND USED FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT, IN LIEU OF THE SALE THEREOF UNDER EXISTING LAW.

THE DOUBT ENTERTAINED AS TO THE PAYMENT OF AN AWARD IN THIS CASE APPEARS TO ARISE OUT OF THE PROVISION THAT THERE MAY BE PAID A COMPENSATION OF 25 PERCENT OF THE NET AMOUNT RECOVERED, THERE BEING AN EVIDENT IDEA THAT THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID IS DEPENDENT UPON SOME ACTUAL FUNDS BEING RECOVERED AS (A) IN THE CASE OF DUTIES WITHHELD, OR ANY FINE, OR PENALTY INCURRED, OR (B) OBTAINED FROM SALES UNDER EXECUTIONS WHERE FORFEITURE IS INCURRED. THINK AS TO (A) THE RIGHT TO AN AWARD IS DEPENDENT UPON A RECOVERY AS EVIDENCE OF SOME SERVICE RECEIVED BY THE GOVERNMENT AS THE QUID PRO QUO FOR THE REWARD, BUT AS TO (B), IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT SUCH AWARDS ARE NOT IN ANY EVENT PAYABLE FROM THE NET AMOUNT RECOVERED, BUT OUT OF MONEYS APPROPRIATED FOR THAT PURPOSE, THE TERM ,RECOVERED" MUST BE UNDERSTOOD IN SUCH CASES AS A WORD OF LIMITATION UPON THE AMOUNT OF AWARD PAYABLE, AND NOT A RESTRICTION TO THE FACT OF RECOVERY OF DEFINITE RECEIPTS. SUCH CONSTRUCTION IS, THEREFORE, NOT IN CONFLICT WITH THE TERMS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, PROVIDED THE MONETARY VALUE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FORFEITURE INCURRED CAN BE CONCLUSIVELY ESTABLISHED AS A BASIS FOR DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF AWARD. THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, STIPULATES THAT A REPORT SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO CONGRESS EACH YEAR IN THE BUDGET SETTING FORTH, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE APPRAISED VALUE OF THE VESSEL OR VEHICLE SO ACQUIRED, AND THE COLLECTOR HAS CERTIFIED A NET APPRAISED VALUE, AFTER DEDUCTING THE EXPENSES OF SEIZURE, SALE, AND STORAGE, OF $968.48, WHICH MAY PROPERLY BE TAKEN AS THE VALUE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FORFEITURE INCURRED.

UNDER THE TERMS OF THE ENACTMENT A FORFEITURE MAY BE VIEWED AS CONSTITUTING A RECOVERY AND THE VALUE OR AMOUNT OF SUCH RECOVERY MUST BE ASCERTAINED. IF THE PROPER FACTS ARE PRODUCED TO ESTABLISH THE VALUE IN SUCH CASES WHERE NO SALE ARISES, AS IN THE INSTANT CASE, THEN THE MAKING OF AN AWARD THEREON IS WITHIN YOUR DISCRETION BUT LIMITED TO NOT TO EXCEED 25 PERCENT OF THE AMOUNT OF THE RECOVERY AS SHOWN BY THE FACTS AS TO THE VALUE OF THE FORFEITED THING.

THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR SUCH PAYMENT IS THAT FOR "COMPENSATION IN LIEU OF MOIETIES IN CERTAIN CASES UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS.'