A-25517, JANUARY 2, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 324

A-25517: Jan 2, 1929

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BURIAL EXPENSES - VETERANS OF THE WORLD WAR THE FACT THAT THE WIDOW MAY HAVE MURDERED HER HUSBAND. DOES NOT PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT TO HER OF SUCH PART OF THE BURIAL EXPENSES AS OTHERWISE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT. AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE THE HONOR TO REQUEST YOUR DECISION IN THE CASE OF LOUIS WASHINGTON. WHICH IS PENDING BEFORE THE BUREAU FOR DETERMINATION. WHO WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CONVICTED OF MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN THE PENITENTIARY OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA. THE VETERAN'S REMAINS WERE BURIED IN THE MOBILE NATIONAL CEMETERY. EXPENSES IN THE AMOUNT OF $277 WERE INCURRED IN THE FUNERAL AND BURIAL. THE EVIDENCE TRANSMITTED WITH THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT SHOWS THAT THE REQUIREMENTS OF BUREAU REGULATION NO. 201 (WHICH REGULATION SETS FORTH THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH BURIAL EXPENSES WILL BE PAID BY THE BUREAU) HAVE BEEN COMPLIED WITH.

A-25517, JANUARY 2, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 324

BURIAL EXPENSES - VETERANS OF THE WORLD WAR THE FACT THAT THE WIDOW MAY HAVE MURDERED HER HUSBAND, A VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR, DOES NOT PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT TO HER OF SUCH PART OF THE BURIAL EXPENSES AS OTHERWISE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 966, AND THE REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, JANUARY 2, 1929:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 17, 1928, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE THE HONOR TO REQUEST YOUR DECISION IN THE CASE OF LOUIS WASHINGTON, XC-715 593, WHICH IS PENDING BEFORE THE BUREAU FOR DETERMINATION.

THE FACTS OF THE CASE MAY BE STATED AS FOLLOWS:

LOUIS WASHINGTON, A VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR, CAME TO HIS DEATH ON MARCH 26, 1928, AS THE RESULT OF A STAB WOUND OF THE CHEST IN THE REGION OF THE HEART, DEALT BY HIS WIFE, MRS. NANCY WASHINGTON, WHO WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CONVICTED OF MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN THE PENITENTIARY OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA. THE VETERAN'S REMAINS WERE BURIED IN THE MOBILE NATIONAL CEMETERY, MOBILE, ALABAMA, AND EXPENSES IN THE AMOUNT OF $277 WERE INCURRED IN THE FUNERAL AND BURIAL. THE WIDOW PAID ALL BUT $25 OF THIS AMOUNT AND HAS FILED A CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, AS AMENDED.

THE EVIDENCE TRANSMITTED WITH THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT SHOWS THAT THE REQUIREMENTS OF BUREAU REGULATION NO. 201 (WHICH REGULATION SETS FORTH THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH BURIAL EXPENSES WILL BE PAID BY THE BUREAU) HAVE BEEN COMPLIED WITH. THERE WOULD BE NO QUESTION REGARDING REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES TO THE WIDOW IN THIS CASE EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT SHE, THROUGH HER WRONGFUL ACT, CAUSED THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN; ACCORDINGLY, THE QUESTION ARISES AS TO WHETHER THE WIDOW IS BARRED FROM RECEIVING REIMBURSEMENT BECAUSE OF HER WRONGFUL ACT IN CAUSING HIS DEATH. WILL YOU THEREFORE ADVISE ME IF THE BUREAU MAY AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF $82 (THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $107, THE AMOUNT PAYABLE UNDER EXISTING LAW, AND $25, THE AMOUNT DUE TO THE UNDERTAKER) TO MRS. NANCY WASHINGTON, IF OTHERWISE PROPER?

SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 966, MAKES NO RESTRICTION ON THE PAYMENT OF REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMS FOR BURIAL EXPENSES OF A "VETERAN OF ANY WAR; ON THE BASIS OF THE CAUSE OF DEATH. HOWEVER, IT IS PROBABLE YOUR DOUBT IS NOT AS TO THE TERMS OF THE STATUTE, BUT AS TO WHETHER IT WOULD BE AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO REIMBURSE A WIDOW FOR BURIAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE DEATH OF HER HUSBAND WHOM SHE HAD MURDERED.

IT APPEARS THAT THE WIDOW IN THIS CASE, AS A RESULT OF HER HUSBAND'S DEATH, PAID $252 ON ACCOUNT OF HIS FUNERAL EXPENSES; AND IT IS APPARENT THAT A REIMBURSEMENT TO HER OF $82 OF SAID AMOUNT WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE A GRANTING TO HER OF A PERSONAL RIGHT OR BENEFIT AS A RESULT OF HER FELONIOUS ACTION, SUCH AS WAS INVOLVED IN 7 COMP. GEN. 27, AND DECISION OF MAY 29, 1926, A-13608. ON THE CONTRARY, THE NET RESULT OF HER FELONIOUS ACTION, IN SO FAR AS BURIAL EXPENSES ARE CONCERNED, WOULD BE A FINANCIAL LOSS TO HER OF $170.

THE STATUTE HERE INVOLVED DOES NOT GRANT A PERSONAL RIGHT OR BENEFIT TO A WIDOW. IT MERELY OBLIGATES THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY THE COST OF BURIAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS WITHIN CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND UNDERCERTAIN CONDITIONS, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE CAUSE OF DEATH AND WITHOUT REGARD TO ANY CRIMINAL ACTION OF THE PERSON TO WHOM THE REIMBURSEMENT OTHERWISE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE STATUTE.

ACCORDINGLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE IN ANSWER TO YOUR SUBMISSION, THAT THE FACT THAT THE WIDOW MAY HAVE MURDERED HER HUSBAND DOES NOT PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT TO HER OF SUCH PART OF THE FUNERAL EXPENSES AS OTHERWISE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE LAW AND REGULATIONS.