A-50581, FEBRUARY 1, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 711

A-50581: Feb 1, 1937

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WHO WAS LATER FOUND TO BE ALIVE. IS NOT AUTHORIZED. IS AS FOLLOWS: ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE NO. 256. WAS ORIGINALLY ISSUED TO JOSEPH SPINDLER. THE CERTIFICATE WAS RETURNED TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION AND CANCELLED. AS THERE WERE TWO AGES SHOWN THEREON. WAS FORWARDED ON APRIL 30. THE BODY OF AN UNKNOWN MAN WHO MET DEATH BY DROWNING WAS FOUND AND SUBSEQUENTLY IDENTIFIED BY A MR. WAS FORWARDED TO THIS ADMINISTRATION BY THE HINES. AN AWARD WAS APPROVED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AND CHECK NO. 195. WAS FORWARDED TO MRS. THE FACTS IN THIS CASE ARE AS FOLLOWS: THE APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION BENEFITS (FORM WWC1) SUBMITTED BY THE VETERAN AND RECEIVED IN THE ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE.

A-50581, FEBRUARY 1, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 711

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS BECAUSE OF FALSE DEATH REPORT A PAYMENT MADE TO A VETERAN'S DIVORCED WIFE AS DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE ON A BONA FIDE CLAIM BASED UPON A REPORT OF DEATH OF ONE WRONGLY IDENTIFIED AS THE VETERAN MAY BE DEEMED IN LAW AS HAVING BEEN RECEIVED BY HER FOR AND ON BEHALF OF HIS CHILD TOWARDS WHOSE MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT THE COURT AT THE TIME OF DIVORCE HAD DECREED HE SHOULD CONTRIBUTE BUT IN WHICH RESPECT HE HAD DEFAULTED, AND ADDITIONAL PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT INVOLVED TO THE VETERAN, WHO WAS LATER FOUND TO BE ALIVE, IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, FEBRUARY 1, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 16, 1936, IS AS FOLLOWS:

ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE NO. 256,158, IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,001.00, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 1925, WAS ORIGINALLY ISSUED TO JOSEPH SPINDLER, A- 1,672,030. IN APRIL, 1929, THE CERTIFICATE WAS RETURNED TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION AND CANCELLED, AS THERE WERE TWO AGES SHOWN THEREON. A NEW CERTIFICATE, NO. 3,512,483, WAS FORWARDED ON APRIL 30, 1929, TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, HINES, ILLINOIS, TO BE HELD AS SECURITY FOR A LOAN GRANTED TO THE VETERAN.

ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1931, THE BODY OF AN UNKNOWN MAN WHO MET DEATH BY DROWNING WAS FOUND AND SUBSEQUENTLY IDENTIFIED BY A MR. GEORGE MACGIVIN AS THE BODY OF THE VETERAN, JOSEPH SPINDLER, A-1,672,030. ON SEPTEMBER 21, 1931, A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE PUBLIC RECORD OF DEATH BY DROWNING OF ONE JOSEPH SPINDLER, 1439 WEST 16TH STREET, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, TOGETHER WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE CORONER'S INQUEST, WAS FORWARDED TO THIS ADMINISTRATION BY THE HINES, ILLINOIS, OFFICE. BASED ON THIS RECORD, AN AWARD WAS APPROVED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AND CHECK NO. 195,340, IN THE AMOUNT OF $485.21, DATED DECEMBER 18, 1931, WAS FORWARDED TO MRS. HERMINA SPINDLER VLACH, THE BENEFICIARY DESIGNATED BY THE VETERAN. THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK REPRESENTED THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $1,001.00, THE FACE VALUE OF THE VETERAN'S ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, AND $515.79, THE OUTSTANDING INDEBTEDNESS THEREON BECAUSE OF LOANS GRANTED TO THE VETERAN, PLUS INTEREST.

THE FACTS IN THIS CASE ARE AS FOLLOWS:

THE APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION BENEFITS (FORM WWC1) SUBMITTED BY THE VETERAN AND RECEIVED IN THE ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE, WAR DEPARTMENT, ON JULY 23, 1924, GAVE AS BENEFICIARY, MRS. HERMINA SPINDLER. IN SUPPORT OF HER CLAIM FOR THE AMOUNT DUE ON THE VETERAN'S CERTIFICATE, SHE FORWARDED TO THIS ADMINISTRATION A CERTIFIED COPY OF HER MARRIAGE LICENSE SHOWING THAT SHE, MRS. HERMINA SPINDLER, MARRIED JAMES F. VLACH ON JULY 26, 1924.

ON FEBRUARY 6, 1932, THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, HINES, ILLINOIS, REPORTED THAT MRS. VLACH HAD CALLED AND PRESENTED A LETTER PRESUMABLY WRITTEN BY THE VETERAN INDICATING THAT HE WAS ALIVE AND RESIDING AT ALLEGAN, MICHIGAN. UPON QUESTIONING, MRS. VLACH STATED THAT SHE HAD BEEN UNABLE TO IDENTIFY THE VETERAN WHOSE DEATH WAS CAUSED BY DROWNING, DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE BODY WAS DECOMPOSED TO SUCH A POINT THAT RECOGNITION WAS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

THE REGIONAL OFFICE FURTHER REPORTED THAT THE GEORGE MACGIVIN WHO IDENTIFIED THE BODY WAS MENTIONED IN A LETTER WRITTEN ON SEPTEMBER 24, 1931, BY JAMES W. MRAZ, AN ATTORNEY, TO THE PRUDENTIAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, REQUESTING INFORMATION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE DECEASED VETERAN CARRIED A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY WITH SAID COMPANY.

PARAGRAPH FIVE OF THAT LETTER MADE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT:

"AFTER THE DIVORCE, MR. SPINDLER LIVED WITH SOME BLOND WHO MARRIED GEORGE MACGIVIN, RESIDING AT 1712 SOUTH LOOMIS STREET, ABOUT TEN MONTHS AGO AND IMMEDIATELY AFTER HER MARRIAGE SHE OUSTED MR. SPINDLER FROM HER FLAT. MR. SPINDLER THEN ROAMED AROUND THE STREETS AND SLEPT IN PARKS.'

THE RECORDS FURTHER SHOW THAT AFTER SEEING AND CONTACTING HER FORMER HUSBAND, JOSEPH SPINDLER, MRS. VLACH SUBMITTED AN AFFIDAVIT IDENTIFYING THE MAN WHOM SHE SAW AS HER FORMER HUSBAND, THE VETERAN, JOSEPH SPINDLER.

ON FEBRUARY 17, 1932, THE VETERAN ADDRESSED A LETTER TO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C., A PORTION WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"A SHORT TIME AGO WORD CAME TO ME THAT A MAN WAS FOUND DEAD IN CHICAGO, AND MY FORMER WIFE IDENTIFIED THE BODY AS BEING ME, AND THAT SHE WENT TO MY FRIEND IN CHICAGO, JERRY STEPAN, WITH WHOM I LEFT MY PENSION PAPERS, AND REPRESENTED TO HIM I WAS DEAD, AND HE GAVE HER MY VETERAN PAPERS, AND SHE MADE APPLICATION TO THE DEPARTMENT AND DREW A PORTION OF THE MONEY THAT BELONGS OR WILL BELONG TO ME * * * I AMWRITING THIS TO LET YOU KNOW HOW YOUR DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN DECEIVED INTO PAYING HER A PORTION AT LEAST OF WHAT BELONGS TO ME. * * * THIS NOTICE SHOULD ENABLE YOU TO MAKE AN EARLY INVESTIGATION INTO THE TRUTH OF WHAT I AM REPRESENTING TO YOU, THAT ANY ERROR, IF ANY, MAY BE CORRECTED.'

MRS. HERMINA SPINDLER VLACH WAS REQUESTED ON MARCH 18, 1932, TO REFUND THE AMOUNT OF $485.21 PAID HER IN SETTLEMENT OF THE VETERAN'S ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE. MR. T. J. MCGANN, FIELD EXAMINER, CONTACTED MRS. VLACH AND ON JULY 9, 1932, MADE HIS REPORT TO THE CHIEF ATTORNEY OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, HINES, ILLINOIS, IN WHICH HE STATED THE FOLLOWING:

"MRS. VLACH STATED THAT ON RECEIPT OF THE GOVERNMENT CHECK FOR $485.21 SHE IMMEDIATELY PAID UP HER OUTSTANDING OBLIGATIONS WHICH WERE ACTUALLY IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT STATED; THAT AT THIS TIME SHE IS WITHOUT RESOURCES OF ANY KIND AND UNABLE TO MAKE A PAYMENT ON HER INDEBTEDNESS TO THE BUREAU.

"HER PRESENT HUSBAND JAMES FRANK VLACH IS NOW IN RECEIPT OF $12.00 PER MONTH, DISABILITY ALLOWANCE PAYABLE THRU THE HINES REGIONAL OFFICE, HINES, ILLINOIS. HIS CLAIM IS C-151,694.

"MR. VLACH BEING PRESENT DURING THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW, STATED THAT WHILE HE UNDERSTOOD AND KNEW THAT THIS DEBT MUST BE PAID; THAT OTHER THAN WITHHOLDING HIS ALLOWANCE HE DID NOT KNOW OF ANY OTHER WAY IT COULD BE MET AT THIS TIME; THAT HE WAS WILLING THE AMOUNT SHOULD BE DEDUCTED FROM HIS ALLOWANCE, BUT THAT IF THE BUREAU COULD LET HIM HAVE JUST HALF THE ALLOWANCE $6.00 PER MONTH, THE REMAINDER TO APPLY ON THE INDEBTEDNESS, HE WOULD APPRECIATE IT AS HE IS IN VERY POOR FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES. HIS ATTITUDE IS THAT HE CAN ILL AFFORD TO MAKE ANY PAYMENTS ON THE DEBT, BUT SINCE THE BUREAU INSISTS ON A REFUND, THEN HE PRAYS THAT HE BE FOLLOWED PART OF HIS DISABILITY ALLOWANCE EACH MONTH, AT LEAST UNTIL THERE IS AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.

"THE FAMILY CONSISTS OF HUSBAND, WIFE AND FOUR SMALL CHILDREN AND IS NOW BEING AIDED BY THE COOK COUNTY CHARITIES RELIEF, FROM WHICH IT RECEIVES A CARD FOR GROCERIES IN THE AMOUNT OF $9.50 EVERY TWO WEEKS; THEREFORE, BECAUSE OF THE FINANCIAL STRAITS OF THE PARTIES AND THE PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES INVOLVED, THE REPORT IS REFERRED FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE.'

MRS. VLACH, IN A COMMUNICATION DATED MARCH 26, 1936, ADDRESSED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, MADE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS:

"I AM THE DIVORCED WIFE OF JOSEPH SPINDLER TO WHOM YOU HAVE ERRONEOUSLY PAID $485.21 SOME TIME AGO UPON THE ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE NO. 3,512,483 ISSUED IN FAVOR OF JOSEPH SPINDLER, A 1,672,030, IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,001.00. NO DOUBT MR. SPINDLER WILL FILE AN APPLICATION TO COLLECT THE BONUS AND I THEREFORE TAKE THE LIBERTY TO ASK YOU TO BE KIND ENOUGH AND WITHHOLD THE PAYMENT SO AS TO REGAIN YOUR $485.21 WHICH YOU HAVE PAID TO ME, AS THIS IS THE ONLY WAY HOW YOU CAN GET THE MONEY BACK. I HAVE BEEN DIVORCED FROM MR. SPINDLER ON THE 16TH OF JULY, 1924, AND ACCORDING TO THE DECREE ISSUED BY THE SUPERIOR COURT IN CHICAGO, COUNTY OF COOK, HE WAS ADJUDGED TO PAY ME $100.00 SOLICITOR'S FEE AND $7.00 PR. WEEK ON THE CHILD, SO THAT ALTOGETHER HE OWES ME OVER $4,000.00.'

ON JULY 26, 1932, THE SUM OF $485.21 WAS REPORTED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AS AN UNCOLLECTIBLE INDEBTEDNESS. THE VETERAN HAS SUBMITTED AN APPLICATION FOR SETTLEMENT OF THE BALANCE DUE ON HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE. IT IS, THEREFORE, REQUESTED THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION BE ADVISED AS TO WHETHER THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK PAID TO MRS. VLACH MAY BE REMOVED AS A CHARGE FROM HIS CERTIFICATE, AND WHETHER CERTIFICATION MAY BE MADE FOR THE BALANCE DUE HIM AS PROVIDED BY THE ADJUSTED COMPENSATION PAYMENT ACT, 1936.

IT APPEARS FROM THE FOREGOING LETTER THAT THE VETERAN HAD A CHILD BY HIS DIVORCED WIFE AND THAT BY THE DIVORCE DECREE HE WAS ADJUDGED TO PAY HIS DIVORCED WIFE THE SUM OF $100 AS ATTORNEY FEE AND, ALSO, THE SUM OF $7 PER WEEK ON ACCOUNT OF THE CHILD, IN RESPECT OF WHICH OBLIGATION THE VETERAN APPEARS TO HAVE DEFAULTED. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES THE PAYMENT MADE TO THE VETERAN'S DIVORCED WIFE--- AS THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY OF HIS ADJUSTED- SERVICE CERTIFICATE--- ON A BONA-FIDE CLAIM BASED UPON A REPORT OF THE DEATH OF ONE WRONGLY IDENTIFIED AS THE VETERAN HEREIN (MISTAKEN IDENTITY) MAY BE DEEMED IN LAW AS HAVING BEEN RECEIVED BY HER FOR AND ON BEHALF OF HIS CHILD TOWARD WHOSE MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT THE COURT HAD DECREED HE SHOULD CONTRIBUTE BUT IN WHICH RESPECT HE APPEARS TO HAVE DEFAULTED. CF. A-80578, DATED OCTOBER 13, 1936, AND A-81114, DATED NOVEMBER 7, 1936, TO YOU; ALSO, MATSEN V. MATSEN, NO. 240143, DECIDED BY CALIFORNIA SUPERIOR COURT, CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, THE DIGEST AND SUMMARY OF WHICH DECISION IS REPORTED AT PAGE 23, THE UNITED STATES LAW WEEK, ISSUE OF DECEMBER 22, 1936, VOL. 4, NO. 17.

ON THE BASIS OF THE REPORTED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S LIABILITY UNDER THE VETERAN'S ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE HAS BEEN EXTINGUISHED BY THE PAYMENT OF THE VETERAN'S CERTIFICATE TO HIS DIVORCED WIFE WHOM HE HAD DESIGNATED AS BENEFICIARY AND THAT THERE IS, THEREFORE, NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR ANY FURTHER PAYMENT ON SAID CERTIFICATE. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE SETTLEMENT MADE IN THE INSTANT CASE BY YOUR ADMINISTRATION SHOULD NOT BE DISTURBED AND THE QUESTION PRESENTED IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, SUPRA, IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.