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UNITED STATES v. MACEVOY

December 5, 1944

UNITED STATES
v.
MacEVOY et al. (two cases)



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MEANEY

The defendants herein have been indicted by the Grand Jury of the United States for the District of New Jersey for an alleged violation of the provisions of Title 18 U.S.C.A., §§ 80 and 550.

A motion has been made to quash the indictments on the ground that they fail to charge a crime against the United States under any Federal Statute.

 The gravamen of the complaint is contained substantially in the charge that the defendants "unlawfully, wilfully and knowingly did make and cause to be made and cause to be presented for payment and approval to the Federal Works Agency and to the Treasury Department of the United States, a certain claim upon and against the United States in the sum of," monies mentioned in each of the claims set forth, the defendants well knowing that the claim was false insofar as certain charges are concerned.

 The several counts in both indictments charge that Clifford F. MacEvoy was president and principal stockholder of the Clifford F. MacEvoy Company, and was in complete control of that company as he was of Rockledge, Inc., and Park Avenue Storage Company; that the defendant, Arthur E. Sankey, was employed by the Federal Works Agency as Project Engineer at the Winfield Housing Project, near Linden, New Jersey, and that it was his duty to, and that he did, approve the various purchasing orders of Clifford F. MacEvoy Company, the contractor holding the contract for construction of the Winfield Housing Project, the contract having been made with the United States of America through the Special Assistant to the Administrator of the Federal Works Agency.

 It is further charged that under the terms of certain general conditions of the Federal Works Agency and Public Building Administration, incorporated in and made part of the contract, the contractor was bound by the schedule of charges for the rental of certain equipment entitled "Contractors' Equipment Rental Schedule," which described various rental for various equipment, depending on whether or not the equipment belonged to the contractor or belonged to a third party. If it was the contractor's the rental was less; if it was a third party's, it was more.

 It is charged further that the vouchers or claims were false, in that in indictment 2438c the contractor claimed that the particular equipment mentioned in each count belonged to Rockledge, Inc., whereas in truth and fact it belonged to Clifford F. MacEvoy Company.

 The same situation prevails in indictment 2439c except that the vouchers show the rental of equipment from Park Avenue Storage Company, which it is alleged was not a bona fide third party.

 Counsel for the defendants contend that in view of the recitals in the indictment, it is patent that the commission of no crime is alleged since it does not charge that the bills were presented to any "person or officer" as required by the statute.

 In determining whether or not the statute is applicable to the instant situation, it is necessary to determine just what the language of the cited section 80 embraces. It reads as follows:

 "Whoever shall make or cause to be made or present or cause to be presented, for payment or approval, to or by any person or officer in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States, or any department thereof, or any corporation in which the United States of America is a stockholder, any claim upon or against the Government of the United States, or any department or officer thereof, or any corporation in which the United States of America is a stockholder, knowing such claim to be false, fictitious, or fraudulent * * * shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."

 Both counsel for the defendants and counsel for the Government insist that the words of the statute are plain and capable of but one sensible, logical, interpretation. And yet, they arrive at inconsistent interpretations of these allegedly unequivocal words, each of them recognizing that since the statute defines a crime, it must be strictly construed. Counsel for the defendants contend that the words "or any department thereof" relate to and modify the immediately preceding phrase "service of the United States" and that therefore unless there be presentation of the claim to any "person or officer" of a department of the United States, under the facts in the instant case, the indictment fails to present a charge of crime.

 The cases cited by counsel for the defendants do not seem to be as elucidative as ...


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