B-4858, JULY 29, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 117

B-4858: Jul 29, 1939

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VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - LIABILITY WHERE OBTAINED BECAUSE OF FRAUD OF VETERAN'S WIFE NOTWITHSTANDING THE VETERAN MAY HAVE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE PRIOR TO HIS WIFE'S DEATH. 338.00 WAS PLEDGED BY HIM ON JANUARY 28. THE CERTIFICATE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REDEEMED BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ON AUGUST 26. TWO ADDITIONAL LOANS WERE OBTAINED BY THE VETERAN ON THE SECURITY OF THE CERTIFICATE. SHOWING THE DECEDENT WAS FOUND DEAD FROM "SHOCK AND INJURIES (HEAD SEVERED FROM BODY). WERE FORWARDED TO CENTRAL OFFICE ON JANUARY 27. WAS APPROVED TO FAVOR OF MRS. DRAWN IN THAT AMOUNT WAS MAILED TO HER ON MARCH 5. THE STATUTORY BURIAL ALLOWANCE OF $100.00 WAS ALSO PAID IN THIS CASE.

B-4858, JULY 29, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 117

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - LIABILITY WHERE OBTAINED BECAUSE OF FRAUD OF VETERAN'S WIFE NOTWITHSTANDING THE VETERAN MAY HAVE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE PRIOR TO HIS WIFE'S DEATH, OR PARTICIPATION, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, IN THE SCHEME EMPLOYED BY HER--- THE IDENTIFYING OF A DEAD PERSON AS HER HUSBAND--- TO OBTAIN THE PROCEEDS OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, THE LOSS MUST FALL UPON HIM- -- AND NOT THE UNITED STATES--- AS THAT ONE OF TWO INNOCENT PARTIES, WHO, IN LAW, MOST ESSENTIALLY FACILITATED THE FRAUD, WHERE HE ENABLED HER TO PERPETRATE THE FRAUD BY DESIGNATING HER AS THE BENEFICIARY OF THE CERTIFICATE AND ENTRUSTING THE DOCUMENT INTO HER KEEPING. SEE, ALSO, 16 COMP. GEN. 371; ID. 711; ID. 984; AND 17 ID. 209, RE VETERAN'S LIABILITY FOR PAYMENTS FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINED BY HIS WIFE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, JULY 29, 1939:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 10, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

THE WORLD WAR VETERAN, BERNICE M. BOTTS, A-2420824, FILED AN APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ( WWC FORM NO. 1), DESIGNATING HIS WIFE, NELLIE BERTHA BOTTS, 2729 WALNUT STREET, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, AS BENEFICIARY. ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE NO. 1107095, ISSUED TO THE VETERAN IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,338.00 WAS PLEDGED BY HIM ON JANUARY 28, 1927, WITH THE MERCANTILE TRUST COMPANY, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, FOR A LOAN OF $117.00. THE CERTIFICATE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REDEEMED BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ON AUGUST 26, 1927, BY PAYMENT OF THE LOAN WITH INTEREST OF $4.05 ACCRUED TO THAT DATE. TWO ADDITIONAL LOANS WERE OBTAINED BY THE VETERAN ON THE SECURITY OF THE CERTIFICATE, ONE IN THE AMOUNT OF $71.99 ON APRIL 6, 1929, AND THE OTHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $33.22 ON MAY 17, 1930, THE CHECKS COVERING THESE LOANS BEING MAILED TO THE VETERAN AT 2749 CLARK AVENUE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, AND 104 SOUTH EWING AVENUE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, RESPECTIVELY.

ON DECEMBER 30, 1930, THE OFFICE OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ATST. LOUIS MISSOURI, INFORMED THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF THIS ADMINISTRATION THAT THE VETERAN HAD DIED ON NOVEMBER 3, 1930. CERTIFIED COPY OF THE PUBLIC RECORD OF DEATH, SHOWING THE DECEDENT WAS FOUND DEAD FROM "SHOCK AND INJURIES (HEAD SEVERED FROM BODY)," AND A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE CORONER'S INQUEST, BOTH DOCUMENTS PURPORTING TO RELATE TO THIS VETERAN, WERE FORWARDED TO CENTRAL OFFICE ON JANUARY 27, 1931, BY THE ST. LOUIS FIELD STATION, TOGETHER WITH A DEMAND FOR PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT DUE ON THE VETERAN'S ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, FORM 582, EXECUTED BY THE BENEFICIARY, NELLIE B. BOTTS. ON THE BASIS OF THIS EVIDENCE, AN AWARD COVERING THE AMOUNT OUTSTANDING ON THE VETERAN'S CERTIFICATE, $1,074.24, WAS APPROVED TO FAVOR OF MRS. BOTTSAND CHECK NO. 158304, DRAWN IN THAT AMOUNT WAS MAILED TO HER ON MARCH 5, 1931, AT 2769A CHOUTEAU AVENUE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI. THE STATUTORY BURIAL ALLOWANCE OF $100.00 WAS ALSO PAID IN THIS CASE, CHECK NO. 1758888 BEING DRAWN TO THE ORDER OF WATSON AND SON, UNDERTAKERS, AND MAILED TO 2941 CHOUTEAU AVENUE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.

AN APPLICATION ( FORM 1701) DATED MAY 5, 1937, EXECUTED BY THE VETERAN FOR SETTLEMENT OF HIS CERTIFICATE WAS RECEIVED IN CENTRAL OFFICE FROM THE FIELD STATION OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, JEFFERSON BARRACKS, MISSOURI. THE FINGERPRINTS ON THE APPLICATION ARE IDENTICAL TO THOSE APPEARING ON THE VETERAN'S APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ( WWC FORM NO. 1). THE FIELD STATION REPORTED IN A LETTER TRANSMITTING THE APPLICATION ( FORM 1701) THAT THE VETERAN CLAIMED THAT AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE ON MAY 1, 1937, HE HAD DISCOVERED FROM PAPERS FOUND IN HER SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX AT THE JEFFERSON FRANKLIN BANK, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, THAT SHE, AS BENEFICIARY, HAD COLLECTED THE BALANCE DUE ON HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE AND THAT THE $100.00 BURIAL ALLOWANCE HAD ALSO BEEN PAID BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION. IT WAS REPORTED FURTHER THAT THE VETERAN STATED THAT HE AND HIS WIFE HAD LIVED TOGETHER CONTINUOUSLY FROM THE DATE OF THEIR MARRIAGE, JULY 15, 1922, TO THE DATE OF HER DEATH, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A FEW MONTHS IN 1925, YET HE ALSO STATED THAT HE HAD NOT BEEN AWARE OF THE FACT THAT HIS WIFE HAD IDENTIFIED A BODY AS HIS AND HAD HAD IT BURIED. WHEN THE VETERAN WAS QUESTIONED AT THE FIELD STATION AS TO WHY HE HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY FILED HIS APPLICATION FOR SETTLEMENT HE REPLIED TO THE EFFECT THAT HE AND HIS WIFE WERE WELL-FIXED FINANCIALLY, THAT HIS WIFE HAD BEEN THE PROPRIETRESS OF TWO BOARDING HOUSES IN ST. LOUIS, AND THAT AS THEY WERE NOT IN IMMEDIATE NEED THEY PREFERRED TO COLLECT THE AMOUNT DUE WITH ACCRUED INTEREST AT THE DATE OF MATURITY. THIS EXPLANATION, HOWEVER, APPEARED INCONSISTENT WITH THE FACT THAT UP TO 1930, THE YEAR OF THE VETERAN'S ALLEGED DEATH, LOANS HAD BEEN OBTAINED ON THE SECURITY OF THE CERTIFICATE IN AMOUNTS AS LARGE AS WERE AVAILABLE AT THE TIMES OF THE SEVERAL TRANSACTIONS, AND WITH THE FACT THAT THE VETERAN CLAIMED THAT AS FAR AS HE KNEW HIS WIFE DID NOT LEAVE ANY MONEY. IN VIEW OF THE VETERAN'S APPARENTLY INCONSISTENT STATEMENTS THE JEFFERSON BARRACKS OFFICE WAS REQUESTED TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION TO DETERMINE, IF POSSIBLE, WHETHER COLLUSION EXISTED BETWEEN THE VETERAN AND HIS WIFE, OR BETWEEN THE UNDERTAKER AND MRS. BOTTS, AND WHETHER MRS. BOTTS LEFT ANY ESTATE FROM WHICH THE AMOUNT OF HER INDEBTEDNESS TO THE GOVERNMENT MIGHT BE RECOVERED. THE FIELD EXAMINER'S REPORT DATED APRIL 29, 1938, TRANSMITTED WITH COPIES OF OFFICIAL CITY RECORDS PERTINENT TO THE CASE AND DEPOSITIONS TAKEN FROM THE VETERAN AND FROM SHIRLEY J. WATSON, SON AND BUSINESS SUCCESSOR OF THE UNDERTAKER, DISCLOSED THAT AN UNKNOWN NEGRO MAN WAS KILLED BY A TRAIN IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, ON NOVEMBER 3, 1930, THAT AN INQUEST WAS HELD IN THE CORONER'S OFFICE OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS ON NOVEMBER 5, 1930, AND THAT THE BODY OF THE DECEASED WAS HELD IN THE CITY MORGUE FOR IDENTIFICATION. THE CASE WAS REOPENED BY THE CORONER'S OFFICE ON DECEMBER 29, 1930, AT WHICH TIME NELLIE BERTHA BOTTS ALIAS BLANCHE NELLIE BOTTS, ALLEGING THAT SHE LIVED IN HARRISBURG, ILLINOIS, TESTIFIED THAT THE BODY WAS THAT OF HER HUSBAND BERNICE MATHEW BOTTS, WHOM SHE HAD NOT SEEN SINCE THE LATTER PART OF OCTOBER OR THE FIRST OF NOVEMBER WHEN HE LEFT HOME TO SEEK WORK IN ST. LOUIS; THAT ROSEBRADFORD, A FRIEND OF HERS RESIDING AT 2747 MORGAN STREET, ST. LOUIS, HAD NOTIFIED HER THAT HER HUSBAND'S BODY WAS AT THE MORGUE. UNDER INSTRUCTIONS FROM MRS. BOTTS, THE BODY WAS RELEASED BY THE MORGUE TO WATSON AND SON, UNDERTAKERS, 2769 CHOUTEAU AVENUE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, AND WAS BURIED UNDER THE NAME OF BERNICE MATTHEW BOTTS ON JANUARY 3, 1931, IN THE NATIONAL CEMETERY, JEFFERSON BARRACKS, MISSOURI. THE FACT WAS VERIFIED THAT MRS. BOTTS DIED ON MAY 1, 1937, AND IT WAS FOUND FROM THE RECORDS IN THE PROBATE COURT OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS THAT THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR HAD FILED ON ANY PROPERTY WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN OWNED BY MRS. BOTTS, BUT NO PROPERTY, REAL OR PERSONAL, WAS FOUND TO EXIST. THE EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY THE FIELD EXAMINER WAS NOT CONCLUSIVE WITH REGARD TO THE QUESTION OF COLLUSION BUT CONTAINED INFORMATION SUGGESTING CERTAIN LEADS WHICH IT APPEARED ADVISABLE TO INVESTIGATE FURTHER IN AN EFFORT TO ESTABLISH DEFINITELY, IF POSSIBLE, WHETHER MRS. BOTTS' FRAUDULENT OPERATIONS WERE CONDUCTED IN COLLUSION WITH SOME PERSON OR PERSONS AND, IF SO, TO ESTABLISH THEIR IDENTITY.

THE CASE WAS ACCORDINGLY REFERRED TO THE UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE ON JUNE 28, 1938, BY LETTER QUOTED IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS FOR YOUR INFORMATION AS TO THE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH APPEARED TO REQUIRE FURTHER INVESTIGATION:

"IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE ADDRESS OF THE UNDERTAKING ESTABLISHMENT OF WATSON AND SON, ALTHOUGH SHOWN AS 2941 CHOUTEAU AVENUE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, ON VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION RECORDS OF THE BURIAL ALLOWANCE OF $100.00, IS SHOWN AS 2769 CHOUTEAU AVENUE ON THE DEATH CERTIFICATE AND IN THE DEPOSITION TAKEN ON APRIL 25, 1938, FROM SHIRLEY J. WATSON, AND AS THIS ADDRESS IS EVIDENTLY ADJACENT TO 2769A CHOUTEAU AVENUE, TO WHICH THE CHECK WAS MAILED COVERING THE AWARD TO NELLIE BERTHA BOTTS OF THE AMOUNT OUTSTANDING ON THE VETERANS' CERTIFICATE, IT APPEARS ADVISABLE TO INVESTIGATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES TO DETERMINE WHETHER THERE WAS COLLUSION BETWEEN THE UNDERTAKER AND MRS. BOTTS. THE VETERAN ALLEGES THAT HE AND HIS WIFE WERE LIVING AT 2112A DIVISION STREET, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, IN DECEMBER 1930, AND THAT THEY HAD NEVER LIVED AT 2769A CHOUTEAU AVENUE. WOULD APPEAR ADVISABLE FOR THE VETERAN TO BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE UNDERTAKER NOW IN CHARGE OF THE ESTABLISHMENT THROUGH WHICH BURIAL OF THE MISIDENTIFIED DECEDENT WAS PROVIDED. MR. WATSON HAS STATED IN THE DEPOSITION TAKEN FROM HIM THAT, ACTING ON THE INSTRUCTION OF HIS FATHER, NOW DECEASED, HE MADE THE NECESSARY PREPARATIONS AND ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE BURIAL AND THAT HE ATTENDED THE FUNERAL AT WHICH FOUR OTHER PERSONS WERE PRESENT, THREE WOMEN AND A MAN. IT IS DESIRED TO ASCERTAIN IF THE VETERAN CAN BE IDENTIFIED BY THE UNDERTAKER AS THE MAN WHO ATTENDED THE FUNERAL IN COMPANY WITH THE THREE WOMEN.

"ALTHOUGH THE STATEMENT WAS MADE THAT THE PRESENT UNDERTAKER'S FATHER DIED IN 1933, THIS DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN VERIFIED. IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE VETERAN'S CASE INDICATING COLLUSION WITH MRS. BOTTS FROM SOME SOURCE, AN OFFICIAL VERIFICATION OF THE STATEMENT APPEARS TO BE WARRANTED. IT IS ALSO SUGGESTED THAT ROSE BRADFORD, MENTIONED IN THE TESTIMONY GIVEN IN THE CORNER'S COURT ON DECEMBER 29, 1930, BY NELLIE BERTHA BOTTS, ALIAS BLANCHE NELLIE BOTTS, AS AN ACQUAINTANCE RESIDING AT 2747 MORGAN STREET, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, WHO NOTIFIED HER THAT HER HUSBAND'S BODY WAS AT THE MORGUE, MIGHT BE ABLE TO FURNISH INFORMATION PERTINENT TO THE CASE. IT IS NOTED THAT THE ADDRESS ON MORGAN STREET WAS GIVEN ON THE DEATH CERTIFICATE AS THAT OF THE VETERAN'S WIFE.

"IT IS ALSO NOTED THAT WHILE THE VETERAN'S ADDRESS IS SHOWN ON THE DEATH CERTIFICATE AS HARRISBURG, ILLINOIS, HIS ADDRESS IS GIVEN ON HIS APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ( WWC FORM NO. 1), FILED IN OCTOBER 1924, AS 2729 WALNUT STREET, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI; HIS ADDRESSES ON THE RECORDS OF THE THREE LOANS OBTAINED ON THE SECURITY OF HIS CERTIFICATE AND ON HIS APPLICATION ( FORM 1701) FOR SETTLEMENT ARE ALSO IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, AND ACCORDING TO THE FIELD EXAMINER'S REPORT DATED APRIL 28, 1938, THE VETERAN HAD BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE HOOPER BORTHERS COAL AND ICE COMPANY, 2905 MARKET STREET, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS. IN HIS DEPOSITION DATED APRIL 22, 1938, THE VETERAN ALLEGED THAT HIS WIFE VISITED IN HARRISBURG, ILLINOIS, IN DECEMBER 1930.'

THE FINAL REPORT OF INVESTIGATION DATED JANUARY 26, 1939 FROM THE ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI OFFICE OF THE SECRET SERVICE IS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * ON OCTOBER 28, 1938, I VERIFIED AT THE BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS, ST. LOUIS, MO., THAT JAMES A. WATSON, OF WATSON AND SON, UNDERTAKERS, DIED NOV. 4, 1933, AND HIS ADDRESS, AS SHOWN ON THE DEATH CERTIFICATE, WAS 2769 CHOUTEAU AVE., ST. LOUIS.

"ON NOVEMBER 2, 1938, I INTERVIEWED BERNICE M. BOTTS AT LENGTH. REITERATED HIS PREVIOUS STATEMENTS THAT HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT HIS WIFE HAVING NEGOTIATED HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE IN 1930, UNTIL AFTER HER DEATH WHEN HE OPENED HER SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX AT THE JEFFERSON BANK AND TRUST CO., AND AT WHICH TIME HE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY WM. D. SHAVERS, COLORED, ATTORNEY, WHO HAD REPRESENTED HIS WIFE IN LEGAL MATTERS; FURTHER STATED IN HER EFFECTS HE FOUND ANOTHER SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX KEY AND HAD WRITTEN TO THE MOSLER CO., CINCINNATI, O., TRYING TO LEARN TO WHAT BANK IT HAS BEEN ISSUED BUT WAS UNSUCCESSFUL. I LATER ASCERTAINED THIS KEY WAS FOR A BOX HIS WIFE HAD AT THE LACLEDE TRUST CO., NOW DEFUNCT, AND FROM C. E. WERNER, LIQUIDATOR FOR THIS BANK, LEARNED THAT WHEN THIS BOX WAS OPENED BY NOTARY PUBLIC J. C. PAULEY IN 1933 IT WAS FOUND EMPTY AND A YEAR'S RENT WAS THEN DUE BY NELLIE BOTTS. BOTTS FURTHER STATED THAT HE MADE APPLICATION AND RECEIVED LOANS AS REPRESENTED BY CHECKS 52497 AND 442910 IN 1929 AND 1930 AND WHEN HE MADE THIS LAST LOAN, HIS WIFE PREVAILED UPON HIM NOT TO BORROW ANY MORE ON HIS CERTIFICATE AS THEY WERE DOING WELL FINANCIALLY WITH HER TWO ROOMING HOUSES AND HE HAD A POSITION; THAT HE TURNED OVER ALL THE PAPERS RELATIVE TO THE CERTIFICATE TO HER AND AS STATED, DID NOT KNOW SAME WAS NEGOTIATED UNTIL AFTER HER DEATH. FURTHER STATED HE DID NOT KNOW SHIRLEY J. WATSON, UNDERTAKER, AND I HAD HIM ACCOMPANY ME TO THIS PLACE WHERE WATSON STATED HE DID NOT KNOW THIS NEGRO AND HAD NEVER SEEN HIM SO FAR AS HE KNEW AND THAT HE WAS NOT PRESENT WHEN ALLEGED BURIAL OF BOTTS TOOK PLACE IN 1930. BOTTS STATED HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF ROSE BRADFORD AND THAT IN 1933 HIS WIFE HAD SOME INSURANCE LITIGATION WITH A LOCAL COMPANY; THAT HE LEARNED OF THIS FROM WM. D. SHAVERS AFTER HIS WIFE'S DEATH. IT APPEARS THAT SOMETIME IN LATTER PART OF 1930 SHE VISITED HER PEOPLE AT MT. VERNON, IND., AND BROUGHT BACK A YOUNG NEGRO BOY NAMED LESTER HOWARD. BOTTS STATED HE REFUSED TO WORK AND HE ASKED HIM TO LEAVE. FURTHER INVESTIGATION OF THIS MATTER DEVELOPS THAT IN 1933 AN UNKNOWN NEGRO WAS KILLED BY THE WABASH RR IN THIS CITY AND NELLIE BOTTS HOWARD MADE AFFIDAVIT HE WAS LESTER HOWARD, HER COMMON LAW HUSBAND, AND SUCCEEDED IN COLLECTING $475 FROM THE MISSOURI INSURANCE COMPANY IN THIS SUIT. EVIDENCE WAS PRESENTED TENDING TO SHOW THAT HOWARD WAS STILL ALIVE BUT THE INSURANCE AGENTS WERE UNABLE TO ESTABLISH THIS FACT AND FROM THIS, IT WOULD INDICATE THIS WOMANWAS MAKING A RACKET OF THIS MATTER. BOTTS WAS UNABLE TO FURNISH ANY DATA THAT WOULD PROVE SHE WAS IN COLLUSION WITH ANY OUTSIDER IN THIS MATTER AND HE IMPRESSED ME AS BEING TRUTHFUL IN THE MATTER, ALTHO THE MANNER IN WHICH HE AND HIS WIFE HANDLED THEIR PERSONAL BUSINESS WAS PECULIAR. HE BEARS THE REPUTATION OF BEING A HARD WORKING NEGRO WITH HOOPER BROS. COAL AND ICE CO., WHERE HE HAS BEEN EMPLOYED FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS. "1SHIRLEY J. WATSON, UNDERTAKER, WAS INTERVIEWED AND HE STATED HE MET NELLIE BOTTS AT 2747A MORGAN ST., ONCE OR TWICE IN ARRANGING FOR THIS FUNERAL AT THE DIRECTION OF HIS DECEASED FATHER; THAT PRIOR TO THIS HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF HER AND FURTHER THAT THE WOMAN WITH WHOM SHE WAS STAYING AT ABOVE ADDRESS MENTIONED SHE KNEW ONE WILL TYLER, UNDERTAKER, HOPKINSVILLE, KY., NOW DECEASED AND CLAIMED TO BE A DISTANT RELATIVE. JAMES TYLER, SON OF WILL TYLER, WAS INTERVIEWED BY OUR LOUISVILLE DISTRICT AND INFORMATION OBTAINED THAT WM. ALEXANDER, 1716A BELLE GLADE, ST. LOUIS, MIGHT KNOW TYLER'S RELATIVES THAT LIVED AT 2747A MORGAN ST., BUT THEY HAD NEVER HEARD OF ROSE BRADFORD. JANUARY 25, 1939, I INTERVIEWED WM. ALEXANDER, RETIRED P.O. EMPLOYEE BUT HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF ROSE BRADFORD AND DID NOT KNOW ANY OF THE OTHER PERSONS INVOLVED IN THIS MATTER. WATSON STATED THAT WHEN CHECK WAS ISSUED TO NELLIE BOTTS NUMBER 158,304 FOR $1,074.24, HE HAD THIS CHECK SENT TO HER AT 2769A CHOUTEAU AVE., ST. LOUIS, WHICH IS HIS LIVING QUARTERS OVER HIS PLACE OF BUSINESS, FOR THE REASON THAT MRS. BOTTS AGREED TO PAY THE BALANCE OF THE FUNERAL EXPENSE WHEN THE CHECK ARRIVED; THAT HE FREQUENTLY DID THIS IN ORDER TO OBTAIN HIS PAYMENTS; THAT SHE PAID TO HIM AROUND $200 OUT OF THIS CHECK. THIS FIRM WAS FORMERLY LOCATED AT 2941 CHOUTEAU AVE., ST. LOUIS. WATSON CLAIMED THAT HIS FATHER MADE ALL THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THIS FUNERAL WITH NELLIE BOTTS, AND HE DENIED EVER ASSOCIATING WITH THIS WOMAN AT ANY TIME.

"1I MADE NUMEROUS INQUIRIES RELATIVE TO ROSE BRADFORD BUT WAS UNABLE TO LOCATE SUCH A PERSON, OR FIND ANY PERSON WHO RESIDED AT THE MORGAN ST. ADDRESS IN 1930. WM. D. SHAVERS, ATTORNEY, CLAIMED HE DID NOT KNOW NELLIE BOTTS UNTIL LATTER PART OF 1933, WHEN SHE CALLED AT HIS OFFICE TO REPRESENT HER IN A SUIT AGAINST THE MO. INSURANCE CO., THAT HE KNEW HER AS NELLIE HOWARD AND DID NOT KNOW BOTTS WAS HER LEGAL HUSBAND UNTIL BOTTS CAME TO SEE HIM AFTER THE DEATH OF NELLIE BOTTS ALIAS HOWARD. INTERVIEWED BERNICE M. BOTTS SEVERAL TIMES AND MADE DILIGENT EFFORT TO UNCOVER SOME EVIDENCE THAT WOULD SHOW COLLUSION BETWEEN HE AND HIS WIFE, OR BETWEEN NELLIE BOTTS AND WATSON OR ANY OTHER PERSON BUT WAS UNSUCCESSFUL AND AS ABOVE STATED, I WAS IMPRESSED WITH BOTTS' SINCERITY IN THIS MANNER. * * *"

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, DECISION IS DESIRED AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE VETERAN HAS JUST CLAIM TO FURTHER PAYMENT.

NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE VETERAN DENIES THAT HE PARTICIPATED EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, IN THE SCHEME WHICH WAS EMPLOYED BY HIS WIFE TO OBTAIN THE PROCEEDS OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, AND HE MAY HAVE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING IT PRIOR TO HER DEATH, THE FURTHER FACT MAY NOT BE OVERLOOKED THAT HE ENABLED HIS WIFE TO PERPETRATE THE FRAUD BY DESIGNATING HER AS THE BENEFICIARY OF THE CERTIFICATE AND ENTRUSTING THE DOCUMENT INTO HER KEEPING CONSEQUENTLY, EVEN THOUGH THE VETERAN BE INNOCENT OF ANY WRONGDOING, THE GOVERNMENT IS EQUALLY BLAMELESS, AND THE SITUATION THUS PRESENTED REQUIRES THE APPLICATION OF THE WELL-ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLE THAT WHERE BOTH PARTIES ARE INNOCENT, AND THE LOSS MUST FALL UPON ONE, IT SHOULD BE UPON THE ONE, WHO, IN LAW, MOST ESSENTIALLY FACILITATED THE FRAUD. STOUT V. BENOIST, 39 MO. 281.

THE LANGUAGE OF LORD MANSFIELD IN THE LEADING CASE OF PRICE V. NEAL, 3 BURROWS 1355, IS PARTICULARLY APT IN THE INSTANT MATTER. HE SAID:

IT IS MISFORTUNE WHICH HAS HAPPENED WITHOUT THE DEFENDANT'S FAULT OR NEGLECT. IF THERE WAS NO NEGLECT IN THE PLAINTIFF, YET THERE IS NO REASON TO THROW OFF THE LOSS FROM ONE INNOCENT MAN UPON ANOTHER INNOCENT MAN. BUT IN THIS CASE, IF THERE WAS ANY FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE IN ANY ONE, IT CERTAINLY WAS IN THE PLAINTIFF, AND NOT IN THE DEFENDANT.

FURTHERMORE, THIS OFFICE HAS UNIFORMLY HELD THAT THE ADJUSTED SERVICE ACCOUNT OF A VETERAN MAY NOT BE RELIEVED OF A CHARGE REPRESENTING A PAYMENT FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINED BY HIS WIFE, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRANSACTION. 16 COMP. GEN. 371; ID. 711, ID. 984; 17 ID. 209.

IN VIEW OF THE REPORTED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S LIABILITY UNDER THE VETERAN'S ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE TO HIS WIFE WHOM HE HAD DESIGNATED AS BENEFICIARY AND THAT THERE IS, THEREFORE, NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR ANY FURTHER PAYMENT ON SAID CERTIFICATE. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE SETTLEMENT MADE IN THE INSTANT CASE BY YOUR ADMINISTRATION SHOULD NOT BE DISTURBED AND THE QUESTION PRESENTED IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.