B-214561.2(1), JUN 11, 1985, 64 COMP.GEN. 605

B-214561.2(1): Jun 11, 1985

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DEBT COLLECTIONS - REFERRAL TO JUSTICE - DEBTOR'S REQUEST FOR COURT OF LAW DETERMINATION PURSUANT TO THE REQUEST OF AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER FOR WHOM RELIEF WAS DENIED UNDER 31 U.S.C. 3527 AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF 5 U.S.C. 5512. SEC. 3717 (1982)) IS CLAIMED DUE AND ASSERTED AGAINST HIM BY THE UNITED STATES. THIS REQUEST WAS MADE BY MR. DECESARIS IS THE CLERK OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND. THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS LOSS ARE DISCUSSED IN SOME DETAIL IN OUR DECISION 63 COMP.GEN. 489 (1984) (COPY ENCLOSED). ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS ARE AUTOMATICALLY AND STRICTLY LIABLE FOR FUNDS ENTRUSTED TO THEM. SEC. 5512 ARE MANDATORY. THE COLLECTION OF THIS DEBT IS REQUIRED TO BE UNDERTAKEN IMMEDIATELY.

B-214561.2(1), JUN 11, 1985, 64 COMP.GEN. 605

DEBT COLLECTIONS - REFERRAL TO JUSTICE - DEBTOR'S REQUEST FOR COURT OF LAW DETERMINATION PURSUANT TO THE REQUEST OF AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER FOR WHOM RELIEF WAS DENIED UNDER 31 U.S.C. 3527 AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF 5 U.S.C. 5512, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE REPORTS THE BALANCE CLAIMED DUE AGAINST THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES IN ORDER THAT LEGAL ACTION BE INSTITUTED AGAINST THE OFFICER.

TO THE HONORABLE EDWIN MEESE, III, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, JUNE 11, 1985:

MR. FREDERICK R. DECESARIS HAS REQUESTED, BY LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 4, 1984 (COPY ENCLOSED), THAT THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE REPORT TO YOU THAT THE AMOUNT OF $4,301 PLUS INTEREST (AS REQUIRED BY 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3717 (1982)) IS CLAIMED DUE AND ASSERTED AGAINST HIM BY THE UNITED STATES. THIS REQUEST WAS MADE BY MR. DECESARIS PURSUANT TO 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5512(B) (1982) SO THAT SUIT MAY BE INSTITUTED AGAINST HIM TO ADJUDICATE THE MATTER IN THE APPROPRIATE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

MR. DECESARIS IS THE CLERK OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND. THE AMOUNT CLAIMED REPRESENTS THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF AND BALANCE DUE ON FUNDS ENTRUSTED TO AND UNACCOUNTED FOR BY PERSONS WORKING UNDER THE DIRECT SUPERVISION OF MR. DECESARIS. THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS LOSS ARE DISCUSSED IN SOME DETAIL IN OUR DECISION 63 COMP.GEN. 489 (1984) (COPY ENCLOSED). UNDER THE LAW, ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS ARE AUTOMATICALLY AND STRICTLY LIABLE FOR FUNDS ENTRUSTED TO THEM. SEE SERRANO V. UNITED STATES, 612 F.2D 525, 528 (CT.CL. 1979). OUR DECISION CONCERNED A REQUEST FOR RELIEF UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527 (1982) SUBMITTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS ON BEHALF OF MR. DECESARIS AND TWO OF HIS SUBORDINATES. WE DECLINED TO GRANT RELIEF TO MR. DECESARIS.

IT HAS BEEN THE POSITION OF PRIOR ATTORNEYS GENERAL THAT THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5512 ARE MANDATORY. THE COLLECTION OF THIS DEBT IS REQUIRED TO BE UNDERTAKEN IMMEDIATELY, BY MEANS OF SALARY OFFSET. MOREOVER, SHOULD THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER REQUEST IT, GAO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT HIS DEBT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, WHO IS REQUIRED TO INSTITUTE LITIGATION AGAINST THE OFFICER WITHIN 60 DAYS. E.G., 4 OP. ATT'Y GEN. 33 (1842) (THE ACT "REQUIRES" THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES TO INITIATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFSET, AND "THERE SHALL BE NO DISCRETION TO SUE OR NOT TO SUE" ON AN ACCOUNT REPORTED TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL PURSUANT TO THE REQUEST OF THE ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER). CF. 10 COMP. DEC. 288 (1903); 39 COMP.GEN.203 (1959).

BY LETTER OF TODAY'S DATE, WE ARE ADVISING MR. DECESARIS AND HIS AGENCY OF THIS REFERRAL AND THE REQUIREMENT THAT OFFSET AGAINST MR. DECESARIS' PAY BE EFFECTED DURING THE PENDENCY OF THIS LITIGATION. A COPY OF THAT LETTER IS ENCLOSED. ALSO ENCLOSED, ARE COPIES OF ALL THE RELEVANT MATERIALS IN OUR FILES PERTAINING TO THIS MATTER. SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ON THIS MATTER, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO HAVE YOUR STAFF CONTACT MR. NEILL MARTIN-ROLSKY OF MY STAFF, AT 202-275-5544.