B-191048, MAY 30, 1978

B-191048: May 30, 1978

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HURLEY: THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST (YOUR REFERENCE FIS-5-16-A:A:O JW) THAT CAROL ILLINGWORTH. DURING WHICH AN OFFICE DOOR WAS PRIED OPEN AND A LOCKED FILE CABINET SAFE CONTAINING GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REQUESTS (GTR). SAVINGS BONDS AND OTHER MISCELLANEOUS CHECKS AND CASH WAS STOLEN FROM THE TERMINAL ISLAND CUSTOM HOUSE. THE SAFE WAS NEVER FOUND BUT THE TOP DRAWER. WHICH WAS APPARENTLY PRIED FROM THE SAFE. WAS RECOVERED IN A COMMERCIAL TRASH BIN IN INGLEWOOD. 000 IN PETTY CASH FROM THE SAFE WAS STILL MISSING. THREE POSSIBLE SUSPECTS WERE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY WITH REGARD TO THE BURGLARY. THEY WERE RELEASED. NO OTHER SUSPECTS WERE DISCOVERED AND NO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION LEADING TO THE RECOVERY OF THE MISSING MONEY WAS DEVELOPED AS A RESULT OF THE INVESTIGATION.

B-191048, MAY 30, 1978

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

JOHN A. HURLEY:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST (YOUR REFERENCE FIS-5-16-A:A:O JW) THAT CAROL ILLINGWORTH, IMPRESS FUND CASHIER, EMPLOYED AT TERMINAL ISLAND, CALIFORNIA, BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR A SHORTAGE OF APPROXIMATELY $3,000 IN HER CUSTODY.

ACCORDING TO REPORTS FROM THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, ITS INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT A BURGLARY OCCURRED ON OR ABOUT AUGUST 27, 1976, DURING WHICH AN OFFICE DOOR WAS PRIED OPEN AND A LOCKED FILE CABINET SAFE CONTAINING GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REQUESTS (GTR), GOVERNMENT PAYROLL CHECKS, SAVINGS BONDS AND OTHER MISCELLANEOUS CHECKS AND CASH WAS STOLEN FROM THE TERMINAL ISLAND CUSTOM HOUSE, CALIFORNIA. THE SAFE WAS NEVER FOUND BUT THE TOP DRAWER, WHICH WAS APPARENTLY PRIED FROM THE SAFE, WAS RECOVERED IN A COMMERCIAL TRASH BIN IN INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA. INVENTORY OF RECOVERED ITEMS BY FBI AND U.S. CUSTOMS REPRESENTATIVES INDICATED THAT ALL GOVERNMENT CHECKS, BONDS AND GTR'S HAD BEEN LOCATED, BUT ABOUT $3,000 IN PETTY CASH FROM THE SAFE WAS STILL MISSING.

THREE POSSIBLE SUSPECTS WERE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY WITH REGARD TO THE BURGLARY, BUT THOROUGH INVESTIGATION, INCLUDING FINGERPRINTS, FAILED TO DEVELOP ANY EVIDENCE TO LINK THEM TO THE THEFT OF THE SAFE, AND THEY WERE RELEASED. NO OTHER SUSPECTS WERE DISCOVERED AND NO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION LEADING TO THE RECOVERY OF THE MISSING MONEY WAS DEVELOPED AS A RESULT OF THE INVESTIGATION. A LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 21, 1978, FROM THE FBI TO THE UNITED STATES CUSTOMS SERVICE, FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SECTION, REVEALED THAT:

"DURING THE COURSE OF THE INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY THE FBI IN THIS MATTER, NO INFORMATION WAS DEVELOPED TO INDICATE ANY NEGLIGENCE OR CULPABILITY ON THE PART OF THE U.S. CUSTOMS EMPLOYEE. THE SAFE WAS REMOVED FROM A ROOM WHICH WAS SECURED AND WHICH EVIDENCE INDICATED WAS BROKEN INTO BY PRYING A DOOR. ADDITIONALLY, A DRAWER FROM THE SAFE WAS REMOVED AND THE DRAWER SHOWED EVIDENCE OF BEING PRIED OPEN TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE SAFE."

OUR OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED TO GRANT ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS RELIEF FROM LIABILITY FOR PHYSICAL LOSSES OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS, ETC., UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS PRESCRIBED BY 31 U.S.C. SEC. 82A-1 (1970) WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED, AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE PERTINENT FINDINGS AND IF IN CONCURRENCE WITH THE DETERMINATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED, TO RELIEVE ANY DISBURSING OR OTHER ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER OR AGENT *** CHARGED WITH RESPONSIBILITY ON ACCOUNT OF PHYSICAL LOSS OR DEFICIENCY OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS, VOUCHERS, RECORDS, CHECKS, SECURITIES, OR PAPERS IN HIS CHARGE *** IF THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT DETERMINES (1) THAT SUCH LOSS OR DEFICIENCY OCCURRED WHILE SUCH OFFICER OR AGENT WAS ACTING IN THE DISCHARGE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES, OR THAT SUCH LOSS OR DEFICIENCY OCCURRED BY REASON OF THE ACT OR OMISSION OF A SUBORDINATE OF SUCH OFFICER OR AGENT; AND (2) THAT SUCH LOSS OR DEFICIENCY OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF SUCH OFFICER OR AGENT."

IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THE FUNDS WERE KEPT IN A TWO-DRAWER FILE CABINET SAFE. WE WERE ADVISED THAT THE TOP DRAWER OF THE CABINET WAS A SAFE DRAWER WITH A COMBINATION LOCK, AND THAT THE UNIT WAS ALSO SECURED BY A KEY LOCK. WE WERE FURTHER ADVISED THAT THIS SAFE MET THE MINIMUM SPECIFICATIONS OF THE TREASURY REGULATIONS AS BEING A PROPER STORAGE PLACE FOR PROTECTION OF IMPREST FUNDS AND WAS THE ONLY REPOSITORY IN THE AREA WHICH WAS READILY ACCESSIBLE TO THE CASHIER. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF FAULT, NEGLIGENCE OR BREACH OF SECURITY BY THE CASHIER WHICH COULD HAVE RESULTED IN THE LOSS OF THE MISSING IMPREST FUNDS, NOR DOES IT APPEAR THAT THE CASHIER FAILED TO OBSERVE ANY OF THE REQUISITE PROCEDURES TO INSURE MAXIMUM SAFETY OF THE FUNDS ENTRUSTED TO HER.

IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED BY THE UNITED STATES CUSTOMS SERVICE, BASED UPON THE FBI REPORT AND OTHER AVAILABLE INFORMATION, THAT THE CASHIER WAS ACTING IN THE DISCHARGE OF HER OFFICIAL DUTIES AND WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE WHEN THE LOSS OCCURRED. THERE IS NO AFFIRMATIVE EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD TO THE CONTRARY. ACCORDINGLY, WE CONCUR IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION, AND GRANT RELIEF TO CASHIER CAROL ILLINGWORTH IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,336.01 UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 31 U.S.C. SEC. 82A-1 (1970). THE PROPER UNITED STATES CUSTOMS SERVICE APPROPRIATION MAY BE CHARGED WITH THE SHORTAGE.