B-129604, MAY 20, 1957

B-129604: May 20, 1957

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INC.: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR ORAL REQUEST. WHICH WERE UNACCOUNTED FOR AT DESTINATION. THE SHIPMENT WAS ROUTED VIA . WX -7940982 WAS ISSUED BY THE BENICIA ARSENAL. IT IS RECITED THEREON THAT THERE WAS "RECEIVED BY THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (DELTA FREIGHT LINES) NAMED ABOVE * * * THE PUBLIC PROPERTY HEREINAFTER DESCRIBED. THE SHIPMENT WAS DESCRIBED IN THE BILL OF LADING AS "233 BXS FIREARMS. THE CONSIGNEE WAS SHOWN AS THE TRANSPORTATION OFFICER. " IT IS SHOWN THAT THE SHIPMENT WAS RECEIVED WITH A LOSS OF "27 BOXES CONTAINING TEN EACH RIFLE. " THAT EACH RIFLE WAS VALUED AT $23.37. THAT THE TOTAL VALUE OF THE LOST RIFLES WAS $6. BOTH THE CONSIGNEE'S CERTIFICATE OF DELIVERY AND THE REPORT OF THE SHORTAGE ON THE BACK OF THE BILL OF LADING WERE SIGNED FOR THE ACTING TRANSPORTATION OFFICER AT ROCK ISLAND ORDNANCE DEPOT.

B-129604, MAY 20, 1957

TO ILLINOIS-CALIFORNIA EXPRESS, INC.:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR ORAL REQUEST, MADE ON APRIL 18, 1957, FOR REVIEW OF THE PROPOSED ACTION OF OUR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION TO EFFECT COLLECTION OF THE AMOUNT OF $6,309.90 (LESS $1,050.02 FREIGHT CHARGES ALLOWED) REPRESENTING THE VALUE OF 270 ML RIFLES PACKED IN 27 BOXES, WHICH WERE UNACCOUNTED FOR AT DESTINATION, IN A SHIPMENT OF 233 BOXES OF RIFLES TRANSPORTED FROM BENICIA ARSENAL, ARMY POINT, CALIFORNIA, TO THE ROCK ISLAND ORDNANCE DEPOT, ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, UNDER BILL OF LADING NO. WX- 7940982, DATED MARCH 27, 1950. THE SHIPMENT WAS ROUTED VIA ,DELTA- INTERSTATE-ILL. CALIF-CARSTENSEN.'

THE RECORD WITH RESPECT TO THIS SHIPMENT SHOWS THAT BILL OF LADING NO. WX -7940982 WAS ISSUED BY THE BENICIA ARSENAL, BENICIA, CALIFORNIA, AND IT IS RECITED THEREON THAT THERE WAS "RECEIVED BY THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (DELTA FREIGHT LINES) NAMED ABOVE * * * THE PUBLIC PROPERTY HEREINAFTER DESCRIBED, IN APPARENT GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION * * * TO BE FORWARDED TO DESTINATION BY THE SAID COMPANY AND CONNECTING LINES, THERE TO BE DELIVERED IN LIKE GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION TO SAID CONSIGNEE.' THE SHIPMENT WAS DESCRIBED IN THE BILL OF LADING AS "233 BXS FIREARMS, BN," WEIGHING 34,933 POUNDS, AND THE CONSIGNEE WAS SHOWN AS THE TRANSPORTATION OFFICER, ROCK ISLAND ORDNANCE DEPOT, ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS. THE "CONSIGNEE'S CERTIFICATE OF DELIVERY" ON THE BILL OF LADING SHOWS RECEIPT OF "THE PUBLIC PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THIS BILL OF LADING IN APPARENT GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION, EXCEPT AS NOTED ON THE REVERSE HEREOF," AND ON THE REVERSE OF THE BILL OF LADING, IN THE SPACE DESIGNATED "REPORT OF LOSS, DAMAGE, OR SHRINKAGE," IT IS SHOWN THAT THE SHIPMENT WAS RECEIVED WITH A LOSS OF "27 BOXES CONTAINING TEN EACH RIFLE, U.S. CAL. .30 MIW/EB1 0041195," THAT EACH RIFLE WAS VALUED AT $23.37, AND THAT THE TOTAL VALUE OF THE LOST RIFLES WAS $6,309.90. BOTH THE CONSIGNEE'S CERTIFICATE OF DELIVERY AND THE REPORT OF THE SHORTAGE ON THE BACK OF THE BILL OF LADING WERE SIGNED FOR THE ACTING TRANSPORTATION OFFICER AT ROCK ISLAND ORDNANCE DEPOT, ILLINOIS. IN VIEW OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD THUS MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL DIRECTLY CONCERNED WITH THE SHIPMENT, OUR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION REQUESTED THAT YOU REMIT THE AMOUNT OF $6,309.90, REPRESENTING THE VALUE OF THE MISSING RIFLES, LESS THE AMOUNT OF $1,050.02, REPRESENTING FREIGHT CHARGES ON THE SHIPMENT, OR $5,259.88.

IN YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW OF THIS MATTER, YOU INDICATED A DOUBT THAT THE RIFLES IN QUESTION WERE EVER LOADED BY THE BENICIA ARSENAL INTO THE TRUCK AND YOU STATED THAT THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION WAS SATISFIED THAT THERE WAS NO THEFT OF THESE RIFLES.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT A WORK LOADING SHEET AND A LOADING PLAN WERE PREPARED FOR THE PARTICULAR TRUCK (INTERSTATE NO. 125) USED FOR THIS SHIPMENT AND THAT THE TRUCK WAS LOADED ACCORDING TO THAT PLAN WITH 233 BOXES OF RIFLES. THE RECORD SHOWS FURTHER THAT UPON DISCOVERY OF THE SHORTAGE, AN INVENTORY OF THE STOCKS OF THIS TYPE OF RIFLE WAS MADE BY BOTH THE BENICIA AND ROCK ISLAND ARSENALS IN AN EFFORT TO LOCATE THE MISSING RIFLES WITHOUT FAVORABLE RESULTS. A REPORT RECENTLY FURNISHED OUR OFFICE BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION DOES NOT MAKE ANY CONCLUSIONS AS TO WHETHER THE MISSING RIFLES WERE LOST OR STOLEN, AND THE REPORT REFLECTS THE RESULTS OF INTERVIEWS WITH VARIOUS PERSONS CONCERNED WITH THE LOADING, TRANSPORTATION, AND UNLOADING OF THE SHIPMENT. SUCH REPORT DOES NOT SERVE TO ABSOLVE THE CARRIER FROM LIABILITY FOR THE MISSING RIFLES.

OUR RECORD DOES NOT DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION THAT DEFINITELY DISPROVES THAT 233 BOXES OF RIFLES WERE LOADED AT THE BENICIA ARSENAL IN INTERSTATE MOTOR LINES TRUCK NO. 125, UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF MICHAEL J. BENNETT, ASSISTANT WAREHOUSE FOREMAN, STORAGE DIVISION. GOVERNMENT SEALS NUMBERED 122869 AND 122870 WERE APPLIED TO THE TRUCK. IT IS UNDISPUTED THAT ENROUTE, AT DENVER, COLORADO, THE SEALS ON THIS TRUCK WERE BROKEN BY THE CARRIER AND THE SHIPMENT RELOADED IN YOUR TRAILER NO. 215 FOR TRANSPORTATION TO DESTINATION. THE CARRIER ADMITS THAT NO COUNT WAS MADE OF THE NUMBER OF RIFLES TRANSFERRED FROM TRAILER NO. 125 TO ILLINOIS- CALIFORNIA EXPRESS TRAILER NO. 215. ON ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION ONLY 206 BOXES OF RIFLES WERE UNLOADED FROM THIS TRAILER. ALTHOUGH THE LOSS WAS PROMPTLY REPORTED TO THE CARRIERS, NO TRACE HAS BEEN FOUND OF THE MISSING 27 BOXES OF RIFLES. IT SHOULD BE NOTED, IN THIS CONNECTION, THAT REASONABLE PRUDENCE WOULD HAVE SUGGESTED TO THE CARRIER AT DENVER THAT, FOR ITS PROTECTION, CONTACT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE WITH RESPONSIBLE ARMY PERSONNEL AT THAT CITY FOR AUTHORITY TO BREAK THE GOVERNMENT SEALS PLACED ON THE TRUCK AT POINT OF ORIGIN AND IN ORDER TO AFFORD THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY AN OPPORTUNITY TO OBSERVE THE UNLOADING AND RELOADING OF THE RIFLES.

THE ABOVE-MENTIONED REPORT FROM THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION WAS OBTAINED IN AN EFFORT TO DEVELOP THE RECORD AS FULLY AS POSSIBLE. MUCH OF THE SAID REPORT CONFIRMS STATEMENTS PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED FROM THE INTERESTED PARTIES, IT BEING NOTED, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT COMPLETE INVENTORIES OF THE BENICIA AND ROCK ISLAND ARSENALS WERE MADE AND NO FURTHER INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS SHORTAGE WAS DEVELOPED AND THAT THE OFFICIALS OF BOTH ARSENALS DENIED THAT ANY ERROR WAS MADE IN THEIR OFFICES CONCERNING THIS SHIPMENT OF RIFLES.

IN VIEW OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS THAT THE CARRIERS RECEIVED 233, BUT DELIVERED ONLY 206, BOXES OF RIFLES, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE DEFINITELY CONTRADICTING SUCH REPORTS, DUE PROTECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEREST REQUIRES THAT WE UPHOLD THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF THE CARRIER'S LIABILITY AND TO ENFORCE COLLECTION OF THE AMOUNT OF $5,259.88 FOUND TO BE OWING TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THIS CONNECTION.

BECAUSE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE, HOWEVER, WE WILL, CONSISTENT WITH YOUR INFORMAL REQUEST, REFER THE MATTER TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FOR SUCH ACTION AS MAY BE DEEMED APPROPRIATE IN THE PREMISES. A COPY OF THIS LETTER IS BEING SENT TO SENATOR GORDON ALLOTT IN VIEW OF HIS INTEREST IN THIS MATTER.