A-16010, OCTOBER 26, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 293

A-16010: Oct 26, 1926

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WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED. IT IS CERTIFIED BY THE SOLICITOR OF THE TREASURY BY LETTER OF JULY 15. KNOWLTON IT WAS FOUND THAT HE HAD PLACED THE SUM OF $267.64 TO THE CREDIT OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES AS WAGES OF DECEASED OR DESERTING SEAMEN UNCLAIMED IN THE COURT REGISTRY FOR MORE THAN SIX YEARS. WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE DEPOSITED BUT $257.64. THE DEPOSIT WAS MADE PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4545. PROVIDING THAT WHEN NO CLAIM TO THE WAGES OR EFFECTS OR PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF THE EFFECTS OF A DECEASED SEAMAN IS SUBSTANTIATED WITHIN SIX YEARS AFTER THE RECEIPT THEREOF BY THE COURT. WHICH IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO RETAIN FOR THE PURPOSE OF SATISFYING CLAIMS. ORIGINALLY FUNDS AS HERE INVOLVED WERE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF AN APPROPRIATION TO BE EXPENDED BY THE MARINE HOSPITAL ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE RELIEF OF SICK AND DISABLED AND DESTITUTE SEAMEN BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE SERVICE.

A-16010, OCTOBER 26, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 293

MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS - ERRONEOUS DEPOSITS FROM COURT REGISTRY THE DEPOSIT IN THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS BY A CLERK OF A DISTRICT COURT OF AN EXCESS AMOUNT FROM THE COURT REGISTRY AS WAGES OF DECEASED OR DESERTING SEAMEN UNCLAIMED FOR MORE THAN SIX YEARS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE DEPOSIT OF MONEY "BEFORE THE PAYMENT OF LEGAL AND JUST CHARGES AGAINST THE SAME," AND THE EXCESS MAY NOT THEREFORE BE REFUNDED UNDER THE INDEFINITE PERMANENT APPROPRIATION FOR REFUNDING MONEY ERRONEOUSLY DEPOSITED AND COVERED AS PROVIDED BY SECTION 3689, REVISED STATUTES.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, OCTOBER 26, 1926:

JOHN F. KNOWLTON, CLERK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, DISTRICT OF MAINE, HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. 0114815, WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED, SEPTEMBER 9, 1926, HIS CLAIM FOR $10 REPRESENTING AN OVER DEPOSIT IN THAT AMOUNT MADE BY HIM FROM THE REGISTRY OF THE COURT UNDER DATE OF DECEMBER 22, 1925, BY CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT NO. 56, PORTLAND NATIONAL BANK.

IT IS CERTIFIED BY THE SOLICITOR OF THE TREASURY BY LETTER OF JULY 15, 1926, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY THAT IN CHECKING UP THE DEPOSITS OF JOHN F. KNOWLTON IT WAS FOUND THAT HE HAD PLACED THE SUM OF $267.64 TO THE CREDIT OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES AS WAGES OF DECEASED OR DESERTING SEAMEN UNCLAIMED IN THE COURT REGISTRY FOR MORE THAN SIX YEARS, WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE DEPOSITED BUT $257.64, AS VERIFIED BY THE ADDITION OF THE DIFFERENT ITEMS.

THE DEPOSIT WAS MADE PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4545, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1897, 29 STAT. 689, AND BY CHAPTER 13 OF THE JUDICIAL CODE OF MARCH 3, 1911, 36 STAT. 1167, PROVIDING THAT WHEN NO CLAIM TO THE WAGES OR EFFECTS OR PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF THE EFFECTS OF A DECEASED SEAMAN IS SUBSTANTIATED WITHIN SIX YEARS AFTER THE RECEIPT THEREOF BY THE COURT, IT SHALL BE IN THE ABSOLUTE DISCRETION OF THE COURT SUBSEQUENT THERETO EITHER TO ALLOW OR REFUSE THE SAME, AND SUCH COURT SHALL FROM TIME TO TIME PAY ANY MONEYS ARISING FROM UNCLAIMED WAGES, ETC., WHICH IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO RETAIN FOR THE PURPOSE OF SATISFYING CLAIMS, INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES.

ORIGINALLY FUNDS AS HERE INVOLVED WERE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF AN APPROPRIATION TO BE EXPENDED BY THE MARINE HOSPITAL ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE RELIEF OF SICK AND DISABLED AND DESTITUTE SEAMEN BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE SERVICE, BUT AFTER OTHER PROVISION WAS MADE FOR THE EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN FURNISHING SUCH RELIEF (SEE PARTICULARLY SEC. 15, ACT OF JUNE 26, 1884, 23 STAT. 57, AND THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1905, 33 STAT. 1217), IT BECAME THE PRACTICE OBTAINING AT PRESENT, TO COVER SUCH MONEY INTO THE GENERAL FUND OF THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS. 1 COMP. GEN. 559.

IN THE PRESENT CASE THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY REPORTS THAT THE SUM OF $267.64 WAS COVERED INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE CREDIT OF "MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS, UNCLAIMED WAGES OF SEAMEN IN REGISTRY OF COURT MORE THAN SIX YEARS," BY MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPT COVERING WARRANT NO. 99, DATED DECEMBER 31, 1925, LIST NO. A-85933.

THE CLAIM WAS SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT FOR CONSIDERATION AS A CLAIM FOR REFUND UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3689, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDING FOR CERTAIN INDEFINITE PERMANENT ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS AND MORE PARTICULARLY UNDER THE SUBHEAD THEREOF PROVIDING AS FOLLOWS:

REFUNDING MONEYS ERRONEOUSLY RECEIVED AND COVERED:

TO REFUND MONEYS RECEIVED AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY BEFORE THE PAYMENT OF LEGAL AND JUST CHARGES AGAINST THE SAME.

IN DECISION AD-8119 OF FEBRUARY 26, 1924, IT WAS SAID:

THE WORDS "LEGAL AND JUST CHARGES" AS USED IN THIS SECTION MEAN AN OBLIGATION OR LIEN ON THE MONEYS RECEIVED WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED FROM IT BEFORE IT WAS PAID INTO THE TREASURY. 14 COMP. DEC. 82. IN 17 COMP. DEC. 273, IT IS STATED:

"IT IS CLEAR, HOWEVER, THAT EACH OF THE PROVISIONS REFERS ONLY TO MONEYS THAT MIGHT PROPERLY BE PAID INTO THE TREASURY AS PUBLIC MONEYS BUT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE LEGAL CHARGES AGAINST IT. THIS IDEA IS EXPRESSED IN THE ORIGINAL ACT BY DESIGNATING IT AS MONEYS "ACCRUING TO THE UNITED STATES" FROM "FINES, PENALTIES, AND FORFEITURES," OR "OTHER SOURCES.' THERE COULD BE NO LEGAL AND JUST CHARGES FOR WHICH THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE LIABLE AGAINST MONEYS THAT DID NOT ACCRUE TO THE UNITED STATES. IT WOULD BE A MISNOMER TO USE THE WORDS "LEGAL AND JUST CHARGES AGAINST THE SAME" AS SYNONYMOUS WITH LEGAL TITLE IN OR TO. THIS PROVISION HAS NEVER BEEN HELD TO AUTHORIZE THE REPAYMENT OF MONEYS THAT BELONGED TO PRIVATE PARTIES WHICH WERE ILLEGALLY COVERED INTO THE TREASURY. IT DOES NOT MAKE AN APPROPRIATION TO REPAY ALL MONEYS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN ERRONEOUSLY RECEIVED AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY, BUT ONLY TO SATISFY LEGAL AND JUST CHARGES, IN THE NATURE OF LIENS AGAINST THE MONEYS THAT HAVE BEEN COLLECTED BY PROPER AUTHORITY AND WHICH, BUT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SUCH CHARGES, WOULD BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY * * *.'

IT IS EVIDENT FROM THE FACTS APPEARING IN THIS CASE THAT THE CLAIM IS NOT ONE PROPERLY FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE APPROPRIATION MADE BY SECTION 3689, REVISED STATUTES, AND AS THERE IS NO OTHER APPROPRIATION FROM WHICH THE CLAIM COULD BE PAID, THE AMOUNT HAVING BEEN COVERED INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS FROM WHICH IT CAN NOT BE WITHDRAWN EXCEPT IN CONSEQUENCE OF AN APPROPRIATION MADE BY LAW, THE PAYMENT OF SUCH CLAIM MUST BE DENIED. 3 COMP. GEN. 296; 4 ID. 520.

ACCORDINGLY, UPON REVIEW THE SETTLEMENT MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE COURT REGISTRY HAS BEEN ERRONEOUSLY DEPLETED IN THE AMOUNT OF $10, THERE WOULD APPEAR NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE WITHHOLDING A LIKE AMOUNT FROM FUNDS OF THE SAME NATURE OVER WHICH THE COURT HAS JURISDICTION WHEN OTHER MONEYS REPRESENTING UNCLAIMED WAGES OF DECEASED OR DESERTING SEAMEN HEREAFTER ARE TO BE DEPOSITED BY THE CLERK FROM THE REGISTRY OF THE COURT, PROPER NOTATIONS OF THE TRANSACTION TO BE MADE BY THE CLERK OF THE COURT WHEN THE ADJUSTMENT IS EFFECTED. 26 COMP. DEC. 555; DECISION OF APRIL 8, 1926, A-13526.