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ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL OR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE DIGEST: ARMY FINANCE OFFICER AND SUBORDINATE CASHIER ARE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM THE FRAUDULENT USE OF STOLEN IDENTIFICATION CARD AND CHECKS TO CASH A PERSONAL CHECK. INDIANA 46249 YOU HAVE REQUESTED RELIEF UNDER 31 U.S.C. YOUR REQUEST IS GRANTED. A PERSONAL CHECK FOR $500 WAS CASHED AT THE 14TH AREA FINANCE SUPPORT CENTER. WHICH WAS SUBSEQUENTLY DISHONORED FOR INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. WAS WRITTEN ON THE ACCOUNT OF PFC JAMES A. WHEN PFC DENNIS LEARNED ABOUT THE MATTER HE IMMEDIATELY DENIED WRITING THE CHECK AND AN INVESTIGATION WAS CONDUCTED. THOUGH PFC DENNIS WAS AWARE HIS ID WAS MISSING.

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B-223400, AUG 22, 1986, OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS - RELIEF - ILLEGAL OR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE DIGEST: ARMY FINANCE OFFICER AND SUBORDINATE CASHIER ARE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR IMPROPER PAYMENT RESULTING FROM THE FRAUDULENT USE OF STOLEN IDENTIFICATION CARD AND CHECKS TO CASH A PERSONAL CHECK. FINANCE OFFICER MAINTAINED AN ADEQUATE SYSTEM OF SUPERVISION AND THE CASHIER FOLLOWED THESE PROCEDURES.

MR. CLYDE E. JEFFCOAT:

PRINCIPAL DEPUTY COMMANDER

U.S. ARMY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46249

YOU HAVE REQUESTED RELIEF UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $500 CHARGED TO MAJOR (MAJ) KENNETH F. JOHNSON, DSSN 6324, FINANCE OFFICER, 14TH AREA FINANCE SUPPORT CENTER, EUROPE, AND PRIVATE FIRST CLASS (PFC) BRIAN J. PREVOST. FOR THE REASONS STATED BELOW, YOUR REQUEST IS GRANTED.

ON MAY 3, 1985, A PERSONAL CHECK FOR $500 WAS CASHED AT THE 14TH AREA FINANCE SUPPORT CENTER, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICE. THIS CHECK, WHICH WAS SUBSEQUENTLY DISHONORED FOR INSUFFICIENT FUNDS, WAS WRITTEN ON THE ACCOUNT OF PFC JAMES A. DENNIS. WHEN PFC DENNIS LEARNED ABOUT THE MATTER HE IMMEDIATELY DENIED WRITING THE CHECK AND AN INVESTIGATION WAS CONDUCTED. THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT THE CHECK HAD BEEN FRAUDULENTLY NEGOTIATED.

PRIOR TO THIS INCIDENT PFC DENNIS' MILITARY IDENTIFICATION (ID) AND 15 BLANK CHECKS HAD BEEN STOLEN FROM HIS ROOM. THOUGH PFC DENNIS WAS AWARE HIS ID WAS MISSING, IT WAS NOT UNTIL MAY 10, 1985 WHEN THE DISHONORED CHECKS WERE RETURNED THAT HE REALIZED THE CHECKS WERE ALSO STOLEN. APPEARS THAT THE UNIDENTIFIED MALE FORGED ONE OF THE MISSING CHECKS. THIS MAN HAD PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS SIMILAR TO PFC DENNIS. BECAUSE BOTH THE SIGNATURE AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS MAN SUFFICIENTLY MATCHED THOSE OF DENNIS, THE CHECK WAS CASHED WITHOUT QUESTION. IN FACT, AN EXPERT WAS NEEDED TO DETECT THE FORGED SIGNATURE. THE IDENTIFICATION PICTURE ALSO MADE IT DIFFICULT TO DETECT THE FORGER, SINCE THE PICTURE ON THE ID WAS TAKEN OF PFC DENNIS IMMEDIATELY AFTER BOOT CAMP WHEN HIS HEAD WAS SHAVEN.

CASHIER PFC PREVOST, WHO CASHED THE CHECK, PERFORMED ALL THE NECESSARY CHECK CASHING PROCEDURES PRIOR TO DISBURSING THE FUNDS. THE EVIDENCE INDICATES THAT MAJ JOHNSON HAD ESTABLISHED AN ADEQUATE SYSTEM AND PROCEDURE FOR SAFEGUARDING FUNDS.

UNDER 31 U.S.C. SEC. 3527(C) A DISBURSING OFFICIAL MAY BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR AN IMPROPER PAYMENT IF THE PAYMENT IS NOT THE RESULT OF BAD FAITH OR LACK OF REASONABLE CARE BY THE OFFICIAL. A SUPERVISORY DISBURSING OFFICIAL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ESTABLISHING AN ADEQUATE SYSTEM OF PROCEDURES AND CONTROLS AND TAKING STEPS TO SEE THE SUBORDINATES FOLLOW THE SYSTEM. SEE B-220737 AND B-220981, DECEMBER 10, 1985.

IT IS YOUR OPINION THAT THE IMPROPER PAYMENT WAS THE RESULT OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND, THEREFORE, MAJ JOHNSON AND PFC PREVOST SHOULD BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY. WE AGREE.

THE IMPROPER PAYMENT WAS NOT THE RESULT OF BAD FAITH OR LACK OF REASONABLE CARE. MAJ JOHNSON INSTITUTED AN ADEQUATE SET OF CHECK CASHING PROCEDURES. THE PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED BY PFC PREVOST. NOTHING IN EITHER OF THE OFFICIALS' CONDUCT CONSTITUTES NEGLIGENCE. THE FRAUDULENT NEGOTIATION WAS BEYOND THE CONTROL OF THE FINANCE OFFICER AND THE CASHIER AND IMPROPER PAYMENT OCCURRED DUE TO THE EFFORTS OF A SKILLFUL FORGER. FOR THESE REASONS, RELIEF IS GRANTED.

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