A-27006, MAY 18, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 611

A-27006: May 18, 1929

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IS NOT APPLICABLE TO RELIEVE A POSTMASTER FROM REFUNDING GOVERNMENT FUNDS HE RECEIVED FOR CARRYING A RURAL ROUTE DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE REGULAR CARRIER. WAS ON DUTY AND CARRIED THE ENTIRE ROUTE. CHECKS WERE ISSUED TO THE REGULAR CARRIER WHO INDORSED THEM IN FAVOR OF THE POSTMASTER. THE REGULAR CARRIER WAS PHYSICALLY DISABLED DURING THE SAID PERIOD BUT WAS NOT FORMALLY GRANTED LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND THERE WAS NO OFFICIAL RECORD OF HIS ABSENCE FROM DUTY DURING ANY BUT A SMALL PORTION OF THE TIME. THE TOTAL AMOUNT RECEIVED BY THE POSTMASTER IN THIS MANNER IS STATED TO HAVE BEEN $1. POSTAL REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN IN FORCE FORSOME TIME TO THE SAME EFFECT. THE POSTMASTER ADMITTED THE FALSIFICATION OF HIS RETURNS AND ALLEGES THAT IT WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING IT APPEAR THE REGULAR CARRIER.

A-27006, MAY 18, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 611

COMPENSATION, DOUBLE - POSTAL SERVICE EMPLOYEES SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 1, 1929, 45 STAT. 1442, AUTHORIZING THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES TO RELIEVE POSTMASTERS FROM UNLAWFUL PAYMENTS MADE BY THEM TO "MAIL MESSENGERS, POSTAL EMPLOYEES, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYED IN POST OFFICES" FOR SERVICES IN A DUAL CAPACITY, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO RELIEVE A POSTMASTER FROM REFUNDING GOVERNMENT FUNDS HE RECEIVED FOR CARRYING A RURAL ROUTE DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE REGULAR CARRIER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 18, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 16, 1929, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER THE CASE OF ARTHUR B. DELANO, POSTMASTER AT EAST SHOREHAM, VT., COMES WITHIN THE RELIEF ACT OF MARCH 1, 1929, 45 STAT. 1442, AUTHORIZING THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES TO RELIEVE POSTMASTERS FROM REFUNDING UNLAWFUL PAYMENTS MADE BY THEM FOR SERVICE IN A DUAL CAPACITY PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE ACT.

IT APPEARS THAT AT LEAST DURING THE PERIOD FROM NOVEMBER 1, 1926, TO APRIL 30, 1927, INCLUSIVE, AND FROM NOVEMBER 1, 1927, TO JUNE 10, 1928, INCLUSIVE, THE POSTMASTER AT EAST SHOREHAM, VT., CARRIED ONE LOOP 16.5 MILES IN LENGTH OF RURAL ROUTE NO. 1 FROM SAID POST OFFICE AND EMPLOYED A SUBSTITUTE CARRIER, ALFRED A. AINES, TO CARRY THE OTHER LOOP OF THE ROUTE, 9.2 MILES IN LENGTH, AND CERTIFIED TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT THAT DURING THIS ENTIRE PERIOD THE REGULAR CARRIER, CHARLES MCGUIRE, WAS ON DUTY AND CARRIED THE ENTIRE ROUTE, CHECKS WERE ISSUED TO THE REGULAR CARRIER WHO INDORSED THEM IN FAVOR OF THE POSTMASTER, WHO, IN TURN, PAID A CERTAIN AMOUNT, OTHER THAN THE LEGAL RATE, TO THE SUBSTITUTE CARRIER FOR SERVICE ON THE 9-MILE LOOP AND RETAINED THE BALANCE OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE CHECK FOR HIMSELF. THE REGULAR CARRIER WAS PHYSICALLY DISABLED DURING THE SAID PERIOD BUT WAS NOT FORMALLY GRANTED LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND THERE WAS NO OFFICIAL RECORD OF HIS ABSENCE FROM DUTY DURING ANY BUT A SMALL PORTION OF THE TIME. THE TOTAL AMOUNT RECEIVED BY THE POSTMASTER IN THIS MANNER IS STATED TO HAVE BEEN $1,430.68 WHICH HE HAS BEEN REQUESTED TO REFUND, IT HAVING BEEN SETTLED BY DECISIONS OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS THAT A POSTMASTER MAY NOT BE PAID FOR CARRYING A RURAL ROUTE DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE REGULAR CARRIER. 25 COMP. DEC. 654. POSTAL REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN IN FORCE FORSOME TIME TO THE SAME EFFECT.

THE POSTMASTER ADMITTED THE FALSIFICATION OF HIS RETURNS AND ALLEGES THAT IT WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING IT APPEAR THE REGULAR CARRIER, WHO WAS NEARING RETIREMENT AGE, WAS ON DUTY, AND STATED THAT HE DID NOT KNOW HE WAS BREAKING ANY LAW OR REGULATION APPLICABLE TO THE POSTAL SERVICE.

IN LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1929, ADDRESSED TO THE POSTMASTER IN QUESTION, THE FOURTH ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL ADVISED AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR DISREGARD OF THE LAW AND THE REGULATIONS IN THIS CASE HAS PUT THE DEPARTMENT TO THE ANNOYANCE NOT ONLY OF A LOT OF UNNECESSARY CORRESPONDENCE, BUT TO THE EXPENSE OF A NEEDLESS INVESTIGATION; HAS DEPRIVED THE SUBSTITUTE FOR THE TIME BEING OF MONEY FULLY EARNED BY HIM; HAS RESULTED IN YOUR APPROPRIATING MONEY TO WHICH YOU ARE IN NO WISE ENTITLED; HAS CAUSED PAYMENT TO BE MADE AT THE RATE OF THE REGULAR CARRIER'S SALARY INSTEAD OF AT 100 PERCENT AS PROVIDED, AND THERE BEING ADDED TO THE CARRIER'S RETIREMENT FUND AN AMOUNT TO WHICH HE IS NOT ENTITLED; AND IT HAS PREVENTED THE CARRIER'S HAVING AN OPPORTUNITY TO RETIRE WITH ANNUITY FROM THE MOMENT HIS TOTAL DISABILITY BEGAN.

IT IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS CASE TO CONSIDER THE POSTMASTER'S MOTIVES OR THE EFFECT THAT FRAUD OR MISREPRESENTATION MIGHT HAVE ON A CASE OTHERWISE COMING WITHIN THE RELIEF ACT.

DECISION OF MAY 2, 1929, A-27033, 8 COMP. GEN. 578, CONSTRUED SECTION 1 OF THE SAID RELIEF ACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 1, 1929, AUTHORIZES POSTMASTERS TO EMPLOY POSTAL EMPLOYEES IN A DUAL CAPACITY OR ASSIGN EXTRA DUTIES TO THEM FOR WHICH THEY MAY BE PAID BUT IT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE POSTMASTERS TO BE PAID FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF EXTRA DUTIES. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION 25 COMP. DEC. 654. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT A POSTMASTER MAY NOT SERVE AS A SUBSTITUTE OR TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIER AND BE PAID FOR SUCH SERVICE.

LIKEWISE, SECTION 2 OF THE RELIEF ACT, WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY MADE APPLICABLE ONLY TO PAYMENTS MADE BY POSTMASTERS "TO MAIL MESSENGERS, POSTAL EMPLOYEES, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYED IN POST OFFICES," IN A DUAL CAPACITY PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE ACT, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO RELIEVE A POSTMASTER, HIMSELF, WHO RECEIVED GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR SERVING IN A DUAL CAPACITY CONTRARY TO EXISTING LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND ESTABLISHED PRECEDENT, AS IN THIS CASE. IN OTHER WORDS, SINCE THE CLASSIFICATION "MAIL MESSENGERS AND OTHER POSTAL EMPLOYEES," AS USED IN SECTION 1 OF THE ACT, DOES NOT INCLUDE POSTMASTERS, IT MUST BE HELD, ALSO, THAT THE CLASSIFICATION "MAIL MESSENGERS, POSTAL EMPLOYEES, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYED IN POST OFFICES," AS USED IN SECTION 2 OF THE ACT DOES NOT INCLUDE POSTMASTERS.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT ARTHUR B. DELANO SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO REFUND THE FULL AMOUNT OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS, VIZ, $1,430.68.