Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

An ATM for the ATMs

One principle for which I developed great appreciation when I was with the Internal Revenue Service is the notion that any time money changes hands, information also is transferred. The information might be something as simple as the date and time on the receipt from the cash register, or it could be a whole series of legal documents, or anything in between the two extremes. Without going into the nitty gritty details at this time, suffice it to say that during my stint with the IRS, many a seemingly mundane document or scrap of paper or account entry led me to a past money transfer of more significant proportions. In fact, even after I handed back my badge and went into private practice, those skills I learned from my IRS days served me well, and continue to do so.

Just as information can lead one to money, so, too, can money be part of the trail to information. More to the point, money itself can constitute information, and therefore, evidence. In a city the size of New York, then, it is natural and logical that the police will have frequent occasion to take cash and currency as evidence of a crime. Thus, there are a number of rubberstamps which imprint legends such as "NYPD Evidence" and the like.

As the law enforcement people can surely confirm, police departments and prosecutors take great pains to document the chain of custody for their evidence, and to impose security measures to ensure that the evidence presented at trial is the same, untampered evidence that was found during the investigation. Even the IRS people do likewise; one rule was that we would never remove a staple from a tax return document without documenting when, how and why we did it -- so that there would be no issue over whether the tax return document presented by the IRS as evidence was the same tax return filed by the taxpayer.

So what does the NYPD do with its money evidence when the evidence is no longer needed? It had been exchanging it for regular cash with Chase Bank, with the understanding that Chase would, through the appropriate Federal Reserve channels, have the "NYPD Evidence" cash destroyed, along with other retired currency.

Well, it turns out that within about a month's time, two Chase ATMs, each in a geographically distant (by NYC Metropolitan Area standards) neighborhood, were reported to have dispensed some of that NYPD Evidence cash to ATM customers. The two ATM customers were quite credible: A retired FDNY dispatcher and a retired NYPD cop.

Seems that Chase, in addition to its Federal bailout, has now found another source of funding.

Chase spokespeople say that Chase is investigating. I say that the IRS should also be investigating! Someone ought to be chasing Chase!

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