B-134465, DEC. 20, 1957

B-134465: Dec 20, 1957

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THE RECORD SHOWS THAT A CLAIM WAS FILED BY BARBARA HIGGINS FOR THE PROCEEDS OF TREASURY CHECKS NUMBERED 34. THE PAYEE ADVISED THAT HER HUSBAND HAD ENDORSED THE CHECKS AND RECLAMATION ACTION WAS UNDERTAKEN BY THE TREASURER. AN UNDATED LETTER FROM THE PAYEE WAS RECEIVED IN THE TREASURER'S OFFICE ON APRIL 11. CASHED AT THE WEST END AUTO PARTS AND JUNK YARD BY HER HUSBAND WAS ALL RIGHT AND THAT SHE TOLD HIM HE COULD CASH HER CHECKS. THE PAYEE ATTEMPTED TO REINSTATE HER CLAIM INDICATING THAT THE RELEASE OF CLAIM WAS PROCURED ON THE THREAT OF FORCE FROM HER HUSBAND. THE SECRET SERVICE REPORTED THAT THE PAYEE RELEASED HER CLAIM VOLUNTARILY AND IS USING THIS MEANS TO FORCE HER HUSBAND TO RETURN TO HER.

B-134465, DEC. 20, 1957

TO MRS. IVY BAKER PRIEST, TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES:

ON AUGUST 22, 1957, FILE 432-FHP, THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TREASURER REFERRED TO OUR OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION OF WHAT DISPOSITION SHOULD BE MADE OF THE AMOUNT OF A CHECK ON WHICH RECLAMATION ACTION HAD RESULTED IN A COLLECTION FROM THE CASHING ENDORSER UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT A CLAIM WAS FILED BY BARBARA HIGGINS FOR THE PROCEEDS OF TREASURY CHECKS NUMBERED 34,423,079 AND 34,574,196, DRAWN OCTOBER 31 AND NOVEMBER 30, 1956, RESPECTIVELY, TO HER ORDER UNDER SYMBOL NO. 225, EACH IN THE AMOUNT OF $137.10. THE PAYEE ADVISED THAT HER HUSBAND HAD ENDORSED THE CHECKS AND RECLAMATION ACTION WAS UNDERTAKEN BY THE TREASURER. AN UNDATED LETTER FROM THE PAYEE WAS RECEIVED IN THE TREASURER'S OFFICE ON APRIL 11, 1957, STATING THAT CHECK NO. 34,574,196, CASHED AT THE WEST END AUTO PARTS AND JUNK YARD BY HER HUSBAND WAS ALL RIGHT AND THAT SHE TOLD HIM HE COULD CASH HER CHECKS. IN THAT LETTER SHE DENIED KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT CHECK NO. 34,423,079, CASHED IN SALT LAKE CITY. ALSO, UPON INTERVIEW BY THE UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE THE PAYEE EXECUTED A RELEASE OF CLAIM FOR BOTH CHECKS WHICH RELEASE CONTAINED THE NOTATION THAT HER HUSBAND CASHED THE CHECKS. THEREAFTER, THE PAYEE ATTEMPTED TO REINSTATE HER CLAIM INDICATING THAT THE RELEASE OF CLAIM WAS PROCURED ON THE THREAT OF FORCE FROM HER HUSBAND. AS TO THE PAYEE'S CHANGE OF POSITION, THE SECRET SERVICE REPORTED THAT THE PAYEE RELEASED HER CLAIM VOLUNTARILY AND IS USING THIS MEANS TO FORCE HER HUSBAND TO RETURN TO HER.

THE TREASURER HAD ABANDONED RECLAMATION ON CHECK NO. 34,574,196 PRIOR TO THE ATTEMPT OF THE PAYEE TO REINSTATE HER CLAIM AND CONTEMPLATES NO FURTHER ACTION WITH RESPECT TO THIS CHECK. ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE AMOUNT RECLAIMED ON CHECK NO. 34,423,079 SHOULD BE RETURNED TO THE ENDORSERS OR WHETHER PAYMENT OF ITS AMOUNT SHOULD BE MADE TO THE PAYEE.

THE PAYEE'S ALLEGATION AS TO HER BEING FORCED BY HER HUSBAND TO SIGN A LETTER APPEARS TO RELATE TO THE LETTER RECEIVED APRIL 11, 1957, RATHER THAN THE RELEASE EXECUTED BY HER BEFORE A SECRET SERVICE AGENT. HOWEVER, SUCH LETTER IS THE ONLY EVIDENCE OF RECORD TO INDICATE SHE AUTHORIZED HER HUSBAND TO ENDORSE EITHER OF THE CHECKS AND HER ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HAVING GRANTED SUCH AUTHORIZATION OR HAVING RATIFIED HER HUSBAND'S ACTION APPEARS TO BE CONFINED TO CHECK 34,574,196. HER DISAVOWAL OF SUCH AUTHORIZATION OR RATIFICATION HAS THE EFFECT OF LEAVING IN FORCE HER DENIALS ON THE CLAIM FORM 6133C THAT SHE NEVER AUTHORIZED ANYONE TO ENDORSE EITHER CHECK, AND DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THEIR AMOUNT EXCEPT AS MODIFIED BY HER RELEASE ON FORM 6735 AND HER LETTER OF MAY 9, 1957. WHILE THE FORM 6735 CONTAINS WORDS ACKNOWLEDGING RECEIPT OF THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECKS, THOSE WORDS ARE NOT THOSE OF OR WRITTEN BY THE PAYEE, AND ARE INCONSISTENT WITH BOTH HER PRIOR AFFIDAVIT OF CLAIM, HER OWN WORDS ON THE FORM "MY HUSBAND'S CASHED THESE CHECKS" AND HER LATEST POSITION OF RECORD AS SET OUT IN HER LETTER OF MAY 9, 1957, WHERE SHE SAYS "I WANT YOU TO SEND MY MONEY TO ME.' THE REPORT OF THE SECRET SERVICE DATED MAY 29, 1957, APPEARS MERELY TO BE AN EXPRESSION OF OPINION OF THE SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE FROM THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO HIM ON THE BASIS OF THE INITIAL INTERVIEW OF THE PAYEE RATHER THAN FACTS OBTAINED UPON A FURTHER INTERVIEW OR DEVELOPED IN THE COURSE OF A FURTHER INVESTIGATION. FROM THE CHARACTER OF THE CLAIMANT'S LETTERS WE DOUBT WHETHER SHE UNDERSTOOD FULLY THE NATURE OF THE RELEASE EXECUTED BY HER. ALSO HER RELEASE, APPARENTLY WAS OBTAINED WITHOUT CONSIDERATION HAVING PASSED FROM THE GOVERNMENT. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION, 76 C.J.S., RELEASES SEC. 10-12. SO FAR AS CHECK 34,423,079 IS CONCERNED THE GOVERNMENT'S POSITION WOULD NOT BE PREJUDICED BY RECOGNIZING THE PAYEE'S APPARENT REPUDIATION OR DISAVOWAL OF THE RELEASE AND HENCE IT DOES NOT APPEAR SHE WOULD BE ESTOPPED FROM CONTESTING THE VALIDITY OF THE RELEASE SO FAR AS THAT CHECK IS CONCERNED. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THE AMOUNT RECLAIMED THROUGH THE ENDORSERS ON SUCH CHECK MAY BE PAID TO THE PAYEE AT HER LATEST ADDRESS OF RECORD.