B-211309, JUN 6, 1983, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

B-211309: Jun 6, 1983

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RESEARCH AND STATISTICS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 4. WHICH WAS FORWARDED TO US FROM MS. RELIEF IS GRANTED. SHOWS THAT THE FUNDS IN QUESTION WERE KEPT IN TWO CASH BOXES INSIDE A SAFE WITH BOTH AN OUTER AND INNER DOOR SAFE COMBINATION LOCK. THE LOCK TO THE DOOR OF THE ROOM CONTAINING THE SAFE WAS APPARENTLY PRIED OPEN WITH THE USE OF A SCREWDRIVER. THE OFFICE SECURITY OFFICER WAS PRESENT WHEN THE THEFT WAS DISCOVERED AND OBSERVED MS. THE TREASURY SECRET SERVICE WERE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED THAT A BURGLARY HAD OCCURRED. THE INVESTIGATIONS OF THE FPS AND FBI HAVE THUS FAR FAILED TO RESULT IN ANY ARRESTS OR THE RECOVERY OF ANY FUNDS. YOU HAVE DETERMINED THAT THE THEFT OCCURRED WHILE MS.

B-211309, JUN 6, 1983, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

ROBERT F. DIEGELMAN, ACTING DIRECTOR OFFICE OF JUSTICE ASSISTANCE, RESEARCH AND STATISTICS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 4, 1983, WHICH WAS FORWARDED TO US FROM MS. JANE O'BRIEN, ACTING CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, BUREAU OF GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL OPERATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. YOU REQUEST THAT WE GRANT RELIEF TO BEATRICE GRAHAM, CLASS "A" CASHIER, WASHINGTON, D. C., FOR A LOSS BY THEFT OF $2,328.00 IN IMPREST FUNDS. FOR THE REASONS THAT FOLLOW, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

THE RECORD, SUPPLEMENTED BY TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH PERSONS FAMILIAR WITH THE CASE, SHOWS THAT THE FUNDS IN QUESTION WERE KEPT IN TWO CASH BOXES INSIDE A SAFE WITH BOTH AN OUTER AND INNER DOOR SAFE COMBINATION LOCK. SOMETIME BETWEEN THE END OF THE WORK DAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1982, AND 8:10 A.M., NOVEMBER 2, 1982, THE LOCK TO THE DOOR OF THE ROOM CONTAINING THE SAFE WAS APPARENTLY PRIED OPEN WITH THE USE OF A SCREWDRIVER, THE SAFE OPENED WITHOUT THE USE OF ANY TOOL OR INSTRUMENT, AND THE CASH BOXES REMOVED. THE OFFICE SECURITY OFFICER WAS PRESENT WHEN THE THEFT WAS DISCOVERED AND OBSERVED MS. GRAHAM OPEN THE SAFE TO FIND THE CASH BOXES MISSING. THE FEDERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE (FPS), THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI), AND THE TREASURY SECRET SERVICE WERE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED THAT A BURGLARY HAD OCCURRED. HOWEVER, THE INVESTIGATIONS OF THE FPS AND FBI HAVE THUS FAR FAILED TO RESULT IN ANY ARRESTS OR THE RECOVERY OF ANY FUNDS.

YOU STATE IN YOUR SUBMISSION THAT PURSUANT TO 31 U.S.C. SEC. 82A-1 (NOW 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(A)), YOU HAVE DETERMINED THAT THE THEFT OCCURRED WHILE MS. GRAHAM WAS ACTING IN THE DISCHARGE OF HER OFFICIAL DUTIES AND THAT THE LOSS OCCURRED WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON HER PART. IF WE CONCUR IN THIS DETERMINATION, 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(A) AUTHORIZES OUR OFFICE TO RELIEVE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR PHYSICAL LOSS OR DEFICIENCY OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS.

AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER HAS THE BURDEN OF PROVING THAT HE OR SHE WAS NOT NEGLIGENT IN THE LOSS OF ANY FUNDS FOR WHICH HE OR SHE IS RESPONSIBLE. SEE 54 COMP.GEN. 112, 115 (1974). WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY GRANTED RELIEF TO ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS WHERE THE EVIDENCE IS CLEAR THAT A THEFT TOOK PLACE AND AN INVESTIGATION HAS REVEALED NO CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS AND THE THEFT. B-205428, DECEMBER 31, 1981.

IN THE PRESENT CASE THERE IS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF BURGLARY. THE DOOR TO THE ROOM CONTAINING THE SAFE WAS PRIED OPEN, AND THE CASH BOXES CONTAINING THE IMPREST FUNDS WERE MISSING WHEN THE SAFE WAS OPENED. THE QUESTION BECOMES, THEREFORE, ONLY ONE OF NEGLIGENCE.

THE RECORD ALSO SUPPORTS THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT MS. GRAHAM WAS NOT NEGLIGENT IN ANY WAY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HER CUSTODIAL DUTY REGARDING THE STOLEN FUNDS. MS. GRAHAM TOLD INVESTIGATORS THAT SHE LOCKED THE SAFE AT THE END OF THE WORK DAY, NOVEMBER 1, AND THERE IS NO REASON TO DOUBT THIS. THE FACT THAT WE CANNOT BE SURE HOW THE COMBINATIONS TO THE TWO SAFE DOORS WERE SOLVED BY THE BURGLARS DOES NOT CHANGE THE NATURAL CONCLUSION, IF WE BELIEVE MS. GRAHAM, THAT THEY WERE.

THEREFORE, WE CONCUR WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT MS. GRAHAM SHOULD BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY AND GRANT RELIEF IN THIS CASE.

IN YOUR LETTER YOU ALSO RECOMMENDED RELIEF OF MS. GRAHAM'S ALTERNATE CASHIER FOR $92.53 OF THE TOTAL THEFT THAT WAS IN ONE OF THE STOLEN CASH BOXES. SINCE THIS LOSS OCCURRED IN THE SAME THEFT AND WITHOUT NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE ALTERNATE, WHO WAS ON LEAVE AT THE TIME, WE ALSO GRANT RELIEF TO THE ALTERNATE CASHIER.