A-19421, JANUARY 26, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 443

A-19421: Jan 26, 1928

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF STORAGE CHARGES ON SUCH VEHICLES IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF SUCH VEHICLES. THAT SUCH EXCESSIVE CHARGES WERE INCURRED UNDER A CONTRACT FOR STORAGE ENTERED INTO BY A PERSON LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO MAKE SUCH A CONTRACT ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES. IT APPEARS THAT THE TRUCK IN QUESTION WAS SEIZED ON SEPTEMBER 16. POSSESSION OF THE TRUCK WAS TURNED OVER TO FEDERAL PROHIBITION OFFICERS. WERE APPLIED ON THE ACCRUED STORAGE CHARGES AND THE PRESENT CLAIM IS FOR THE BALANCE OF SUCH CHARGES REMAINING UNPAID. WHICH IS THE ONLY LAW AUTHORIZING PROHIBITION OFFICERS. IT IS CLEAR THAT AS SUCH EXPENSES ARE TO BE PAID FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE.

A-19421, JANUARY 26, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 443

STORAGE - VEHICLES SEIZED UNDER THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT AS SECTION 26 OF THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT OF OCTOBER 28, 1919, 41 STAT. 315, PROVIDES THAT THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEIZURE AND SALE OF VEHICLES THEREUNDER SHALL BE PAID FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF STORAGE CHARGES ON SUCH VEHICLES IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF SUCH VEHICLES, IF FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES, IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING OF A NECESSITY IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES OF INCURRING SUCH EXCESSIVE CHARGES, AND THAT SUCH EXCESSIVE CHARGES WERE INCURRED UNDER A CONTRACT FOR STORAGE ENTERED INTO BY A PERSON LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO MAKE SUCH A CONTRACT ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JANUARY 26, 1928:

REVIEW HAS BEEN REQUESTED OF SETTLEMENT NO. 013867/1), DATED JUNE 30, 1927, DISALLOWING THE CLAIM OF THE SLATERS FIREPROOF STORAGE CO. FOR $352 FOR THE STORAGE OF A MOTOR TRUCK FROM SEPTEMBER 15, 1921, TO JULY 16, 1925.

IT APPEARS THAT THE TRUCK IN QUESTION WAS SEIZED ON SEPTEMBER 16, 1921, BY THE CHICAGO POLICE EITHER FOR THE ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF WHISKEY OR IN CONNECTION WITH A THEFT OF WHISKEY THEREFROM BY TWO MEMBERS OF THE CHICAGO POLICE FORCE. ON THE FOLLOWING DAY, APPARENTLY, POSSESSION OF THE TRUCK WAS TURNED OVER TO FEDERAL PROHIBITION OFFICERS, WHO PLACED IT IN STORAGE WITH CLAIMANT COMPANY, WHERE IT REMAINED UNTIL SOLD BY THE UNITED STATES MARSHAL ON JULY 16, 1925, BY ORDER OF THE FEDERAL COURT. THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE, $200, WERE APPLIED ON THE ACCRUED STORAGE CHARGES AND THE PRESENT CLAIM IS FOR THE BALANCE OF SUCH CHARGES REMAINING UNPAID.

SECTION 26 OF THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT OF OCTOBER 28, 1919, 41 STAT. 315, WHICH IS THE ONLY LAW AUTHORIZING PROHIBITION OFFICERS, AS SUCH, TO TAKE POSSESSION OF A VEHICLE BEING USED FOR THE ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF INTOXICATING LIQUORS, PROVIDES THAT UPON THE SALE OF SUCH VEHICLE BY ORDER OF THE COURT, THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH SALE, AFTER DEDUCTING THE EXPENSES OF KEEPING THE PROPERTY AND CERTAIN OTHER EXPENSES, SHALL BE PAID INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES. WHILE THIS PROVISION IN EFFECT AUTHORIZES THE INCURRING OF NECESSARY EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEIZURE, SAFE- KEEPING, AND SALE OF A VEHICLE FOUND ENGAGED IN THE ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF INTOXICATING LIQUORS, IT IS CLEAR THAT AS SUCH EXPENSES ARE TO BE PAID FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE, THE ACT CAN NOT BE CONSTRUED AS AUTHORIZING THE INCURRING OF EXPENSES IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE DERIVED FROM THE SALE OF THE SEIZED VEHICLE. NO APPROPRIATIONS HAVE BEEN PROVIDED BY LAW FOR THE PAYMENT OTHERWISE OF SUCH EXCESSIVE EXPENSES AND THE GENERAL APPROPRIATION FOR "ENFORCING PROHIBITION" IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES EXCEPT IN THE UNUSUAL CASES WHERE IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE AGENTS OF THE UNITED STATES TO RETAIN ACTIVE POSSESSION OF THE VEHICLE PENDING THE RESULT OF PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED, AND THEN ONLY WHERE SUCH EXCESSIVE EXPENSES ARE INCURRED UNDER A CONTRACT DULY EXECUTED BY A PERSON LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO MAKE SUCH CONTRACTS ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT. 3 COMP. GEN. 347; ID. 82; 6 COMP. GEN. 686.

THE PLACING OF A SEIZED VEHICLE IN STORAGE BY A PROHIBITION OFFICER DOES NOT OBLIGATE THE UNITED STATES TO PAY STORAGE CHARGES THEREON NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAW. PERSONS ACCEPTING SUCH VEHICLES FOR STORAGE ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW RELATIVE TO THEIR SEIZURE AND SALE AND ALSO WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE LIMITED POWERS OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES. CONSEQUENTLY, PERSONS WHO FURNISH STORAGE FOR VEHICLES SEIZED IN CONNECTION WITH VIOLATIONS OF THE PROHIBITION ACT DO SO WITH NOTICE THAT PAYMENT OF STORAGE CHARGES WILL BE LIMITED TO THE AMOUNTS AVAILABLE FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF THE VEHICLES, IF FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES, AND SHOULD BE GOVERNED IN SUCH TRANSACTIONS ACCORDINGLY.

IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING IN THE PRESENT CASE OF A NECESSITY IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES FOR STORING THE SEIZED MOTOR TRUCK FOR A PERIOD OF ALMOST FOUR YEARS PRIOR TO ITS SALE, AND OF THE EXECUTION OF A CONTRACT FOR SUCH STORAGE BY A PERSON LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO MAKE SUCH A CONTRACT ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES, IT MUST BE HELD THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR THE PAYMENT OF STORAGE CHARGES IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE.