A-67782, JUNE 30, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1141

A-67782: Jun 30, 1936

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ARE FOR COLLECTION FROM THE INDIVIDUALS CONCERNED AS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY APPEARS. FOR DENTAL SERVICES PURPORTED TO HAVE BEEN RENDERED BY HIM PERSONALLY. COX WAS PAID CONTAINED CERTIFICATES NOT TRUE. THE FACTS OF THE CASE ARE EPITOMIZED IN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 15. THE MISFORTUNE WAS IMMEDIATELY REPORTED BY HIM TO THE PROPER REGIONAL OFFICE. HE WAS CONTINUED AS DESIGNATED DENTAL EXAMINER AT THE REQUEST OF THE CHIEF DENTAL OFFICER OF THAT REGIONAL OFFICE. IT WAS NECESSARY FOR DR. COX TO HAVE ANOTHER DENTIST PERFORM THE DENTAL WORK. ALTHOUGH HE WAS PRESENT ON MOST OCCASIONS TO SEE THAT THE WORK WAS DONE SATISFACTORILY. AFTER THAT DATE THE GOVERNMENT CHECKS FOR PAYMENT OF THE WORK WERE GIVEN TO THE DENTIST PERFORMING THE SERVICES.

A-67782, JUNE 30, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1141

LIABILITY FOR AMOUNTS PAID UPON FRAUDULENT VOUCHERS AMOUNTS PAID UPON UNTRUE CERTIFICATES OF A PAYEE AS TO DENTAL SERVICES RENDERED, AND ON THE BASIS OF SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATIONS OF OTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WHO HAD KNOWLEDGE OF THE PAYEE'S INCAPACITY TO RENDER THE SERVICES INVOLVED, ARE FOR COLLECTION FROM THE INDIVIDUALS CONCERNED AS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY APPEARS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, JUNE 30, 1936:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 15, 1935, SUPPLEMENTED BY YOUR REPORT OF MARCH 18, 1936, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER ANY PART OF THE AMOUNTS PAID TO ONE BRUCE G. COX, FORMER DENTAL EXAMINER, EVANSVILLE, IND., FOR DENTAL SERVICES PURPORTED TO HAVE BEEN RENDERED BY HIM PERSONALLY, TO VETERANS UPON AUTHORIZATION BY OFFICERS OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION SHOULD BE RECOVERED UPON THE BASIS OF SUBSEQUENTLY DISCLOSED FACTS ESTABLISHING THAT THE VOUCHERS ON WHICH DR. COX WAS PAID CONTAINED CERTIFICATES NOT TRUE.

THE FACTS OF THE CASE ARE EPITOMIZED IN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 15, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

THE INVESTIGATION OF THIS MATTER HAS DISCLOSED THAT DR. COX STATED THAT WHILE SERVING AS DESIGNATED DENTAL EXAMINER, THAT HE LOST HIS RIGHT ARM ON APRIL 1, 1926, AS A RESULT OF SEPTICEMIA. THE MISFORTUNE WAS IMMEDIATELY REPORTED BY HIM TO THE PROPER REGIONAL OFFICE, BUT HE WAS CONTINUED AS DESIGNATED DENTAL EXAMINER AT THE REQUEST OF THE CHIEF DENTAL OFFICER OF THAT REGIONAL OFFICE. IT WAS NECESSARY FOR DR. COX TO HAVE ANOTHER DENTIST PERFORM THE DENTAL WORK, ALTHOUGH HE WAS PRESENT ON MOST OCCASIONS TO SEE THAT THE WORK WAS DONE SATISFACTORILY. HE PAID A DENTIST $200.00 A MONTH FOR TAKING CHARGE OF HIS OFFICE (INCLUDING THE FEE BASIS WORK OF THIS ADMINISTRATION) FROM APRIL 1, 1926, TO JANUARY 1, 1928, WHEN HE SOLD HIS OFFICE. AFTER THAT DATE THE GOVERNMENT CHECKS FOR PAYMENT OF THE WORK WERE GIVEN TO THE DENTIST PERFORMING THE SERVICES, AND ACCORDING TO THE TESTIMONY OF DR. COX, HE WAS PAID APPROXIMATELY $50.00 TO $100.00 FOR THE TIME SPENT BY HIM IN THE OFFICE WHEN WORK WAS BEING DONE FOR VETERANS UNTIL HE WAS DISCONTINUED AS DESIGNATED DENTAL EXAMINER ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1934. VOUCHERS TOTALING $3,220.10 WERE AUTHORIZED AND APPROVED FOR DR. COX SUBSEQUENT TO APRIL 1, 1926. THIS SUM WAS THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE CHECKS WHICH DR. COX TESTIFIED WERE GIVEN BY HIM TO THE DENTISTS PERFORMING THE SERVICES.

IN YOUR REPORT OF MARCH 18, 1936, YOU FURNISHED A LIST OF THE VOUCHERS ON WHICH DR. COX WAS PAID TOGETHER WITH COPIES OF RELATED PAPERS, INCLUDING EXCERPTS OF THE TESTIMONY CONTAINED IN YOUR INVESTIGATION FILE, AND STATED THAT---

FROM THE TESTIMONY AND EXHIBITS CONTAINED IN THE INVESTIGATION FILE, IT APPEARS THAT THE BLAME FOR CONTINUING DR. COX AS A DESIGNATED DENTAL EXAMINER AFTER THE LOSS OF HIS ARM CAN NOT BE DEFINITELY PLACED ON ANY ONE PERSON, AND DR. COX EVIDENTLY HAD NO INTENTION OF DEFRAUDING THE GOVERNMENT OR TO FALSELY SIGN VOUCHERS. * * *

DR. COX WAS EMPLOYED AS A "DESIGNATED DENTAL EXAMINER" EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 1924, AND BY VIRTUE OF THIS APPOINTMENT AND RENEWALS THEREOF DR. COX WAS TO RENDER DENTAL SERVICES TO VETERANS SENT TO HIM BY OFFICERS OF THE THEN VETERANS' BUREAU (NOW THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION) AT FEES PRESCRIBED IN CERTAIN FEE TABLES FOR PARTICULAR CLASSES OF DENTAL WORK. IN EVERY INSTANCE HERE INVOLVED DR. COX PERFORMED ONLY SUCH SERVICES AS WERE AUTHORIZED IN LETTERS SIGNED BY THE APPROPRIATE DENTAL OFFICER, NAMING THE PARTICULAR VETERAN-PATIENTS TO BE TREATED AND DESIGNATING THE EXTENT OF THE PARTICULAR DENTAL WORK DEEMED NECESSARY. IN ALL OF THE INVOLVED VOUCHERS (53) EXCEPT TWO (VOUCHERS NOS. 6826 AND 1575) THE OFFICER WHO AUTHORIZED DR. COX TO PERFORM THE SERVICES WAS H. A. ALISTER, D.D.S., CHIEF DENTAL OFFICER (FORMERLY DESIGNATED AS REGIONAL DENTAL OFFICER/--- THE AUTHORIZATION OFFICER IN THESE TWO CASES BEING RAMON F. DORSET, D.D.S., REGIONAL DENTAL OFFICER. ALSO, IN ALL OF THE INVOLVED VOUCHERS EXCEPT FIVE (VOUCHERS NOS. 5869, 5870, 6826, 807, AND 1575) THE USUAL ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATE ON THE FACE OF THE VOUCHER WAS SIGNED BY H. A. ALISTER, CHIEF DENTAL OFFICER, AND IN A FEW OF THE EARLIER CASES AS REGIONAL DENTAL OFFICER--- THE OFFICER SIGNING THE ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATE ON THE FIVE VOUCHERS BEING RAMON F. DORSET, CHIEF DENTAL OFFICER.

THE DENTAL-RECORD CHART AND ORAL-EXAMINATION BLANK ATTACHED TO EACH VOUCHER CONTAINS A CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY DR. COX READING, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

I HEREBY CERTIFY THAT THE FOREGOING DENTAL RELIEF HAS BEEN RENDERED BY ME PERSONALLY * * *.

IT IS NOT SHOWN IN YOUR REPORT OF MARCH 18, 1936, WHETHER DR. RAMON F. DORSET, HEREINABOVE REFERRED TO, WAS QUESTIONED REGARDING HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE INCAPACITY OF DR. COX TO RENDER PERSONALLY THE SERVICES AUTHORIZED. THE REPORT DOES ESTABLISH, HOWEVER, THAT DR. ALISTER DID HAVE ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH INCAPACITY. NEVERTHELESS, HE SIGNED THE VARIOUS AUTHORIZATIONS ABOVE REFERRED TO DIRECTING DR. COX TO PERFORM THE PARTICULAR DENTAL SERVICES DESCRIBED, KNOWING FULL WELL THAT DR. COX COULD NOT PERFORM THE SERVICES SO DIRECTED TO BE RENDERED. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES APPEARING, IT MUST BE ASSUMED THAT DR. DORSET HAD LIKE KNOWLEDGE OF DR. COX'S INCAPACITY.

THE RECORDS THUS ESTABLISH THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATES ON THE INVOLVED VOUCHERS, SIGNED BY DRS. ALISTER AND DORSET, AND THE DENTISTS' CERTIFICATES SIGNED BY DR. COX ON THE DENTAL RECORD ATTACHED TO AND FORMING A PART OF THE VOUCHERS, WERE NOT TRUE.

THE ARGUMENT HAS BEEN ADVANCED THAT DR. COX HAD NO INTENTION OF DEFRAUDING THE GOVERNMENT OR TO SIGN FALSE VOUCHERS. WHILE THE MATTER OF INTENT IS AN ESSENTIAL FACTOR IN THE CRIMINAL PHASE OF A CASE IT IS NOT THE CRUX OF A CIVIL WRONG. IN THIS CONNECTION THE FOLLOWING WAS SAID IN 15 COMP. GEN. 466, 470, INVOLVING THE MATTER OF FALSE CERTIFICATES ON VOUCHERS:

* * * WHETHER THIS WAS DONE "IN GOOD FAITH" AT THE SUGGESTION OF SOMEONE, OR OTHERWISE DELIBERATELY, OR THAT THERE WAS A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT, AS ALLEGED, IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE, AS THE FACT REMAINS THAT THERE WAS A FALSE CERTIFICATION OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACCOUNT AND AN EXPENSE ACCOUNT SO SUBMITTED CAN FORM NO BASIS FOR A VALID CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT.

ON THE PRESENT RECORD, THEREFORE, IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE AMOUNTS OF THE VOUCHERS IN QUESTION WHICH WERE PAID UPON UNTRUE CERTIFICATES AND ON THE BASIS OF THE SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATIONS OF DRS. ALISTER AND DORSET, WHO HAD KNOWLEDGE OF DR. COX'S INCAPACITY, AS HEREINBEFORE INDICATED, SHOULD BE COLLECTED FROM DRS. COX, ALISTER, AND DORSET, WHO APPEAR TO BE JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY RESPONSIBLE, AS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY APPEARS IN RESPECT OF SAID VOUCHERS.

THIS OFFICE SHOULD BE INFORMED PROMPTLY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN IN THE MATTER.