A-95689, OCTOBER 27, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 380

A-95689: Oct 27, 1938

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THE ONLY CONNECTION THE PAYEE COULD HAVE HAD WOULD HAVE BEEN IF THE PEN USED IN MAKING THE INDORSEMENT WAS GUIDED TO PRODUCE THE INDORSEMENT. IN WHICH EVENT THE ACT WOULD HAVE BEEN THAT OF THE GUIDER AND NOT THE PAYEE. THE CHECK MUST BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN NEGOTIATED UPON A FORGED INDORSEMENT AND PAYMENT THEREOF WAS PROPERLY DECLINED BY THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES WHO MAY ISSUE HIS CHECK FOR A LIKE AMOUNT. THE CHECK WAS ISSUED IN REDEMPTION OF 11 ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF WILLIAM WHITE (COLORED). IT APPEARS THAT STOPPAGE OF PAYMENT ON THE CHECK WAS REQUESTED BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION. PAYMENT WAS DECLINED BY YOUR OFFICE WHEN THE CHECK WAS PRESENTED ON AUGUST 14.

A-95689, OCTOBER 27, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 380

CHECKS' UNIDENTIFIED INDORSEMENTS - SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES OF DELIVERY, NEGOTIATION, ETC. - STOPPAGE OF PAYMENT AND ISSUANCE OF SUBSTITUTE CHECK WHERE UNDER THE SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DELIVERY, NEGOTIATION, REQUEST FOR STOPPAGE OF PAYMENT, AND DEATH OF PAYEE, OF A CHECK ISSUED IN REDEMPTION OF ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS, THE INDORSEMENT APPEARING ON THE CHECK CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED AS THAT OF THE PAYEE, AND THE ONLY CONNECTION THE PAYEE COULD HAVE HAD WOULD HAVE BEEN IF THE PEN USED IN MAKING THE INDORSEMENT WAS GUIDED TO PRODUCE THE INDORSEMENT, IN WHICH EVENT THE ACT WOULD HAVE BEEN THAT OF THE GUIDER AND NOT THE PAYEE, THE CHECK MUST BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN NEGOTIATED UPON A FORGED INDORSEMENT AND PAYMENT THEREOF WAS PROPERLY DECLINED BY THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES WHO MAY ISSUE HIS CHECK FOR A LIKE AMOUNT, IN PLACE OF THE ORIGINAL MUTILATED CHECK, TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE PAYEE AND CHARGE THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT WITH THE AMOUNT INVOLVED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES OCTOBER 27, 1938:

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 7, 1937, AWS-C, TRANSMITTED FILE RELATIVE TO CHECK NO. 10793, FOR $550, DRAWN AUGUST 10, 1936 TO THE ORDER OF WILLIAM WHITE UNDER SYMBOL NO. 16-803, OF HUGH C. MCKELLER, WITH THE REQUEST FOR ADVICE AS TO FURTHER ACTION TO BE TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE.

THE CHECK WAS ISSUED IN REDEMPTION OF 11 ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF WILLIAM WHITE (COLORED), A-1,082,553, WORLD WAR VETERAN. IT APPEARS THAT STOPPAGE OF PAYMENT ON THE CHECK WAS REQUESTED BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, ON AUGUST 13, 1936, FOR THE REASON ONE WILLIAM EPSTEIN HAD REPORTED TO THE MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, OFFICE OF THE DIVISION THAT THE PAYEE HAD DIED UNDER SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. PAYMENT WAS DECLINED BY YOUR OFFICE WHEN THE CHECK WAS PRESENTED ON AUGUST 14, 1936. THE INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION DISCLOSED THAT THE PAYEE DIED ON THE DATE THE CHECK WAS RECEIVED AND NEGOTIATED AND AN AUTOPSY DISCLOSED THE CAUSE OF DEATH AS CHRONIC ALCOHOLISM AND MARIJUANA POISONING. THE CHECK WAS MAILED TO THE PAYEE AT 345 1/2 BEALE AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENN., WHICH IS THE ADDRESS OF A TAILORING ESTABLISHMENT OWNED AND OPERATED BY ONE, N. C. EGGLESTON, ALSO COLORED, AND IN THE REAR OF WHICH THE PAYEE WAS FOUND IN AN UNCONSCIOUS CONDITION A FEW HOURS BEFORE HE DIED. EGGLESTON WAS INTERVIEWED BY A SECRET SERVICE AGENT AND HE STATED THAT HE ASSISTED THE VETERAN IN OBTAINING HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS, AND UPON THEIR RECEIPT HE IDENTIFIED THE VETERAN AND WITNESSED HIS SIGNATURE ON POST OFFICE FORM 3849. HE ALSO EXECUTED AN AFFIDAVIT IN WHICH HE AVERRED THAT ON AUGUST 10, 1936, HE ACCOMPANIED THE VETERAN TO THE POST OFFICE, MEMPHIS, TENN., WHERE HE IDENTIFIED HIM AND WITNESSED HIS SIGNATURE ON 11 ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS; THAT CHECK NO. 10793 WAS RECEIVED AT HIS ESTABLISHMENT BY PAYEE BETWEEN EIGHT AND NINE O-CLOCK IN THE MORNING OF AUGUST 11, 1936, AND THAT THE PAYEE INDORSED THE CHECK AND TURNED IT OVER TO HIM. THE CHECK BEARS THE PURPORTED INDORSEMENT OF THE PAYEE TWICE AND SHOWS EGGLESTON AS THE SECOND INDORSER. EGGLESTON FURTHER AVERRED THAT HE CASHED THE CHECK AT THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK, MEMPHIS, TENN.; RETURNED TO HIS STORE AND GAVE THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE CHECK, I.E. $550, TO THE PAYEE WHO THEN AND THERE PAID HIM $341 WHICH EGGLESTON HAD ADVANCED HIM DURING A PERIOD OF 2 OR 3 MONTHS. EGGLESTON SUPPORTS HIS STATEMENTS BY AFFIDAVITS OF SIX OTHER NEGROES WHO STATE THAT THEY SAW WHITE SIGN THE CHECK; PAY EGGLESTON SOME MONEY OR RECEIVE SOME MONEY FROM EGGLESTON. AS TO THE WEIGHT THAT MAY BE GIVEN SAID AFFIDAVITS, IT IS DISCLOSED FROM THE RECORD THAT EGGLESTON IS A DOMINEERING NEGRO, ESPECIALLY WITH HIS OWN COLOR, AND THAT THE NEGROES IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD ARE IN FEAR OF BODILY HARM FROM HIM.

THE SECRET SERVICE AGENT OBTAINED TWO NOTES DATED JANUARY 30, 1936, AND JUNE 2, 1936, KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN SIGNED BY THE PAYEE, AND A COPY OF AN APPLICATION FOR BONUS BONDS SUBMITTED BY THE PAYEE ON JANUARY 30, 1936, TO THE SERVICE OFFICER, AMERICAN LEGION POST NO. 27, AND SIGNED BY THE PAYEE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE OFFICER. THESE DOCUMENTS, TOGETHER WITH POST OFFICE FORM 3849, AND CHECK NO. 10793 WERE SUBMITTED TO THE EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS FOR EXAMINATION AND COMPARISON OF SIGNATURES. UNDER DATE OF OCTOBER 13, 1936, THAT OFFICIAL REPORTED THAT:

THE PERSON WHO EXECUTED THE SIGNATURES ON THE NOTES OF JANUARY 30 AND JUNE 2, 1936, AND ON THE CARBON COPY OF THE APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS DID NOT ENDORSE SUBJECT CHECK IN THE NAME OF THE PAYEE NOR SIGN THE RECEIPT COVERING THE DELIVERY OF THE CHECK. THE ENDORSEMENT ON THE CHECK AND THE SIGNATURE ON THE DELIVERY RECEIPT APPEAR TO BE IN THE HAND OF THE SAME PERSON.

INASMUCH AS THE INDORSERS CONTENDED THAT THE CHECK WAS NEGOTIATED UPON THE GENUINE INDORSEMENT OF THE PAYEE THE MATTER WAS AGAIN REFERRED TO THE EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS ON APRIL 27, 1937, AT WHICH TIME THERE WAS SUBMITTED THE 11 ADJUSTED SERVICE BONDS WHICH EGGLESTON ALLEGED WERE SIGNED BY WILLIAM WHITE. UNDER DATE OF APRIL 29, 1937, THE EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS REPORTED:

I HAVE MADE A CAREFUL EXAMINATION AND COMPARISON OF THE SIGNATURES ON THE REVERSE OF THE BONDS AND I HAVE COMPARED THEM WITH THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE NAME OF THE PAYEE ON THE REVERSE OF CHECK NO. 10793. AS A RESULT OF THIS STUDY IT IS MY OPINION THAT THESE SIGNATURES ARE IN THE HAND OF THE SAME PERSON.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE SIGNATURES ON THE DOCUMENTS JUST MENTIONED COMPARE FAVORABLY WITH THAT ON REGISTERED MAIL RECEIPT FORM, ARTICLE NO. 815476, DATED AUGUST 10, 1936, A PHOTOSTATIC COPY OF WHICH APPEARS IN ACCOUNTING DIVISION FILE.

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 7, 1937, INVITES ATTENTION TO EGGLESTON'S AFFIDAVITS AND THE AFFIDAVITS OF SIX SUPPOSEDLY DISINTERESTED PERSONS IN SUPPORT THEREOF, AND TO THE REPORTS OF THE EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS. IN VIEW OF THE CONFLICTING EVIDENCE OF RECORD THE FILE WAS RETURNED TO YOU BY LETTER DATED JULY 12, 1938, WITH THE REQUEST THAT THE MATTER BE AGAIN REFERRED TO THE EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS, BRINGING TO HIS ATTENTION THE ALLEGED CONDITION OF THE PAYEE AT THE TIME THE THE QUESTIONED SIGNATURES WERE MADE, AND THAT HE BE REQUESTED TO FURNISH A REPORT AS TO WHETHER THE PAYEE'S CONDITION WOULD AFFECT HIS HANDWRITING SO AS TO RENDER IMPOSSIBLE AN OPINION AS TO ITS GENUINENESS OR WHETHER THE QUESTIONED SIGNATURES MADE UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES COULD BE THOSE OF THE PAYEE. THERE NOW HAS BEEN RECEIVED REPORT DATED OCTOBER 4, 1938, FROM THE GOVERNMENT HANDWRITING EXPERT WHICH COVERS NOT ONLY THE DOCUMENTS REPORTED UNDER DATES OF OCTOBER 13, 1936, AND APRIL 29, 1937, BUT ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS OBTAINED FROM THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION. THE REPORT IS EXHAUSTIVE AND IS TO THE EFFECT THAT FORM 1701, APPLICATION FOR BONDS, DATED AUGUST 3, 1936; RECEIPT FORM 3849 FOR THE BONDS; THE 11 BONDS; AND CHECK NO. 10793, ALL BEAR THE SIGNATURE OF THE SAME PERSON, BUT THAT SAID SIGNATURE IS NOT THE SAME AS THAT APPEARING ON SEVEN DOCUMENTS BEARING THE KNOWN GENUINE SIGNATURE OF THE VETERAN, WILLIAM WHITE. THE REPORT FURTHER STATES THAT THE VETERAN'S WRITING HABITS AS DISCLOSED BY THE DOCUMENTS BEARING HIS GENUINE SIGNATURE ARE UNUSUALLY CONSTANT AND THAT:

* * * TO SUMMARIZE, IT IS QUITE UNREASONABLE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PAYEE MIGHT HAVE WRITTEN SEVENTEEN SIGNATURES (ELEVEN AT ONE SITTING APPARENTLY) UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WITHOUT SEVERAL REVERSIONS TO SOME OF HIS WRITING HABITS OF LONG STANDING.

IN MY OPINION, THE ONLY POSSIBLE CONNECTION THE PAYEE COULD HAVE HAD WITH THE QUESTIONED SIGNATURES IS THAT PRESENT IN A GUIDED-HAND SIGNATURE WHERE THE PERSON WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN HAS PRACTICALLY NO CONTROL OF THE PEN BUT WHOSE HAND OPERATES ONLY AS A HINDRANCE TO THE WRITER ACTUALLY DETERMINING THE PATH OF THE PEN. IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES OF THIS KIND, THE MANNER OF EXECUTION SERVES EFFECTIVELY TO PREVENT A RECORDING OF THE WRITING HABITS OF BOTH THE GUIDER AND THE PERSON WHOSE HAND IS GUIDED IN SUFFICIENT NUMBER TO IDENTIFY THE ACT, ALTHOUGH THE HABITS OF THE FORMER MAY BE EXPECTED TO PREDOMINATE. THIS THEORY AS APPLIED TO H. C. EGGLESTON AS THE GUIDER IS SUPPORTED BY AN EXAMINATION OF HIS WRITING AND BY SEVERAL OTHER CONDITIONS.

IN VIEW OF THE REPORT OF THE GOVERNMENT HANDWRITING EXPERT THAT THE ENDORSEMENT APPEARING ON THE CHECK CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED AS THAT OF THE PAYEE AND THAT THE ONLY CONNECTION THE PAYEE COULD HAVE HAD WOULD HAVE BEEN IF THE PEN USED IN MAKING THE INDORSEMENT WAS PLACED IN HIS HAND WHICH WAS THEREAFTER GUIDED TO PRODUCE THE INDORSEMENT IN WHICH EVENT THE ACT WOULD HAVE BEEN THAT OF THE GUIDER AND NOT THE PAYEE, IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE CHECK WAS NEGOTIATED UPON A FORGED INDORSEMENT AND PAYMENT THEREOF WAS PROPERLY DECLINED BY YOU.

A CLAIM FOR THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK, WHICH IS NOW MUTILATED, HAS BEEN FILED BY CHARLES WHITE AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE DECEASED PAYEE'S ESTATE AND IT BEING REPORTED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT THE AMOUNT IS STILL DUE THE PAYEE, YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO CHARGE THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT WITH THE AMOUNT OF $550 AND TO ISSUE YOUR CHECK FOR A LIKE AMOUNT TO THE ORDER OF CHARLES WHITE, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM WHITE, FOR TRANSMISSION TO HIM AT HIS LAST ADDRESS AS SHOWN BY THE RECORD. 14 COMP. GEN. 683.