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Jon G. Tidd

THE LOWDOWN ON POSTAL MONEY ORDERS CIRCA 1963

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The $21.45 A. Hidell postal money order is provably a fake. The fakery is evident. The proof of fakery is obtainable today.

The keys to understanding these things are [a] to understand the legal nature of a PMO in 1963, to understand how PMOs and checks differ and are alike, and [c] to understand how PMOs were processed for payment in 1963.

The legal nature of a PMO in 1963. - By 1963, there was a body of case law (law handed down by courts) on the legal nature of PMOs. PMOs

o were not commercial instruments, and

o were not, therfore, negotiable instruments.

The fact a PMO was not a negotiable instrument could have adverse consequences for an injured innocent party. For example, if M knowingly sold a defective rifle to N, who paid M with a PMO; and upon getting the rifle home, N discovered the rifle was defective; N could not stop payment of the PMO and get back the money he used to purchase the PMO. By way of contrast, if N had paid with a check, which is a negotiable instrument, N could stop payment on the check. Sure, N would have a claim against M if N paid with a PMO, but N's claim would be worthless if M was broke or was MIA.

In some ways, PMOs were handled like checks. - A check is drawn upon a bank. PMOs were drawn upon the Post Office. The chief difference between checks and PMOs in 1963 is that while a check could be endorsed and transferred any number of times, a PMO could be endorsed only once. More on this important feature of PMOs in due course. Before we get to this feature of PMOs, it will help greatly to understand checks and endorsements.

Checks and endorsements. - If in 1963, N handed a check drawn upon First Bank for 21.45 to M in exchange for a rifle, the check would read "Pay to the order of M...." The word "Pay" is an order to First Bank to pay out of the account on which the check is written $21.45 to the order of M. What do the words "to the order of M mean"? They mean: [a] Pay directly to M if M walks into First Bank and presents the check for payment; or pay to any other party who presents the check for payment, provided the check contains all necessary endorsements.

What is an endosement? It is a signature, perhaps a signature together with other words such as "pay to the order of [A NAMED PARTY]" or "For deposit only".

What is the purpose or function of an endorsement on a financial instrument? An endorsement is for the protection of a party who receives the instrument in exchange for money. Money either deposited to the transferring party's account or paid in cash to the transferring party. The party who lays out the money has recourse against (can go after) any prior endorser in the event the instrument is dishonored (e.g., in the event the check bounces, OR in the event the check is not paid because the account owner's signature is determined by the bank to have been forged). In our example, M would be the first endorser and would stand to be left holding the bag if, for example, N was impersonated and N's signature was forged.

PMOs in 1963. - A 1963 PMO did not say "Pay to the order of...." It said "Pay to...." The mere difference in words had great significance when coupled with the fact a PMO could be endorsed only once. It meant the only non-bank party entitled to receive payment of a PMO was the party named as payee after the words "Pay to".

That brings us to how PMOs were processed and paid in 1963. Any PMO could be cashed at a post office. But for the years 1961-65, 99 percent of all PMOs were paid by the Federal Reserve. The process worked like this:

Klein's would receive a PMO as payment for a rifle. Klein's

would stamp its endorsement on the PMO and deposit the PMO

in its account at First National Bank of Chicago ("First").

First was a so-called member bank of the Chicago Federal

Reserve Bank ("Chicago FRB"). First would issue a

credit to Klein's and would stamp the back of the PMO and

then deposit the PMO with the Chicago FRB. The Fed would

pay First, making a charge against the U.S. Treasury.

Treasury would acquire the PMO from the Fed and then obtain

payment from the Post Office, which would take final

possession of the PMO.

This worked as a way of processing PMOs within a sophisticated banking system because bank stamps were not considered endorsements for PMO purposes. A bank stamp on a PMO functioned as an endorsement, however, by allowing the Post Office recourse against any bank that had stamped the PMO in the event the Post Office determined the PMO had been forged or stolen.

Forged and stolen PMOs were a big problem for the Post Office in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The A. Hidell PMO for $21.45. - This PMO is in regular form on its face. The back bears a Klein's stamped endorsemnt: "Pay to the order of the First National Bank of Chicago". That was a proper form of endorsement and would have prompted First to credit Klein's. So contrary to what has been written, Klein's could have been paid by First. The problem is that because First never stamped the back of the PMO, there's no way the Fed would have credited (paid) First. In fact, the Fed would have rejected First's attempt to deposit the PMO, and the PMO would have wound up back in First's hands. Of course, we're given a different story, one completely at odds with 1963 banking law and procedures. Anyone who maintains First or the Fed simply made a mistake is wrong. Banking law and procedure for mundane matters always has been a matter of precision, mainly to protect the banks. What's flawed is the story we've been given, which is that the Hidell PMO traveled through the Federal Reserve System and came to rest at the Post Office in Washington, D.C. That simply did not happen.

But wait. - There's a way to verify what happened, which is to uncover the payment chain running from Klein's to the Post Office. If there was such a chain, somewhere, perhaps buried deeply, there's a clean, clear paper trail showing the chain. If such a paper trail doesn't exist, the official story of the Hidell PMO is a fraud.

What's amazing is that the Warren Commission, with all of its elite staff attorneys, never delved into the payment chain of the Hidell PMO, which would have been readily available to them. The only rational explanation as to why they didn't delve is that they didn't want to uncover the truth.

What's amazing too is that neither the HSCA nor the ARRB delved into the payment chain. The Hidell PMO screamed to the Warren Commission, the HSCA, and the ARRB, "Come check me out!"

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Jon,

No immediate argument here, BUT:

I think your analysis needs to be brought to a conclusive statement of what you propose actually happened with regard to the PMO. Who did what, why and when.

Thanks

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Bruce,

I wish I could supply what you want. At best, I only can speculate.

In any event, knowing that the Hidell PMO appears to be a fake, based on verifiable facts, tells me there's something rotten; something the Warren Commission, the HSC, and the ARRB should have considered.

BTW, where are you in CT? I'm in West Simsbury.

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BTW, where are you in CT? I'm in West Simsbury.

LOL, I read that as "where are you in Conspiracy Theories? (As in, which one do you accept/believe?)

"I'm in West Simsbury."

Simsbury?? I haven't heard of this author. What's his theory? :D

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Jon,

That's a good write-up, one that I believe to be the case.

Unfortunately it is difficult to find any authoritative source on the subject. (I couldn't find one, other than for the actual regulations calling for bank endorsements/stamps.) So some may consider your write-up to be merely your (and my) opinion.

Edited by Sandy Larsen

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Jon and Sandy:

Armstrong is coming. Guns blazing.

Jon is correct.

And he is also right in asking why on earth did the HSCA or the ARRB never investigate this?

Edited by James DiEugenio

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And [Jon] is also right in asking why on earth did the HSCA or the ARRB never investigate this?

Speaking of that, does anybody know when holes in the alleged rifle purchase were first discovered? And the PMO problem specifically? Was that as early as the HSCA?

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That is a really good question.

And although I think its fundamental and key, its surprising that no one has ever done a systematic study.

But I think the first person to do anything with this was Evica in And We are All Mortal.

His concentration was on the rifle transfer, not the money order.

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A "Money Order Timeline" summary....

There is solid evidence to support every step of the Hidell money order's journey --- from the post office in Dallas all the way to the document's final resting place at the Federal Records Center in Alexandria, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.)....

1.) The Dallas "G.P.O." Post Office handled the CE788 "Hidell" money order --- via the two stamps applied to the M.O. at the post office (i.e., the "Dallas, Tex.; G.P.O.; Mar. 12, 1963" stamp and the "$21.45" stamp that appear on the money order).

2.) The purchaser, Lee Harvey Oswald, handled the money order --- via the fact that Oswald's handwriting is on the document.

3.) Klein's Sporting Goods Company handled the money order --- via the Klein's "Pay To The Order Of The First National Bank Of Chicago" stamp on the back of the M.O.

4.) The First National Bank of Chicago handled the money order in question --- via the FBI interview with First National Bank Vice President Robert Wilmouth on November 23, 1963 [see CD75]. In that interview, Wilmouth verified that his bank received a $13,827.98 deposit from Klein's on 3/15/63, which contained a U.S. Postal Money Order in the amount of 21 dollars and 45 cents. Wilmouth also verified that the subject money order was sent to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on March 16, 1963.

5.) The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago handled the Hidell money order --- via the presence on the document of the ten-digit "File Locator Number" in the upper left corner, which is a number that is stamped on a money order (or check) only after it has reached a Federal Reserve Bank for processing.

6.) And the CE788 money order was recovered on November 23, 1963, by employees of the Federal Records Center in Alexandria, Virginia, which is precisely where approximately 75% of the U.S. Postal Money Orders were being sent for storage by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in March of 1963 [see CD75, Page 669].

Now, if ALL of the above things are fake, fraudulent, or just a bunch of lies, then I think we can all agree that miracles are, indeed, possible.

But even with a "File Locator Number" now identified on the Hidell money order, PLUS Lee Harvey Oswald's handwriting (per many handwriting analysts) being on the same money order, PLUS the Klein's stamp being on that same money order, PLUS the "Mar. 12, 1963" and "$21.45" post office stamps being exactly where they should be on that same money order....the conspiracy crowd still wants more proof to show that the M.O. is a legitimate document.

As far as most conspiracy theorists are concerned, it always seems to be the things that AREN'T there that become more important and valuable than the things that ARE present and accounted for. The bullets in the JFK case are another good example of this mindset possessed by many CTers. Per those conspiracists, it's the bullets that were never found or recovered that somehow become much more important when it comes to solving JFK's murder than the bullets that are in evidence.

Go figure.

http://jfk-archives.blogspot.com/2015/10/jfk-assassination-arguments-part-1058.html

Edited by David Von Pein

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The $21.45 A. Hidell postal money order is provably a fake. The fakery is evident. The proof of fakery is obtainable today.

I’m not going to get sucked back into this goofiness even if John Armstrong appears with his toy cannon blazing, but I would merely point out:

  1. There is a legal maxim: When the law is against you, argue the facts; when the facts are against you, argue the law; when both are against you, scream and pound the table. We seemingly can modify this for assassination debates along the lines of, When you have had your butt kicked up one side and down the other, keep starting new threads on the same topic and hope the old threads will be overlooked.
  1. For those who just can’t get enough of this stuff, the legal aspects of Postal Money Orders are nicely summarized in a 1967 article, Legal Aspects of Postal Money Orders, in the Cornell Law Review: http://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3600&context=clr.

  2. The original post assumes the very point in dispute – i.e., that Postal Money Orders did, in fact, require endorsements or bank stamps. If you cannot see this, you truly have gone off the cliff. I do not see that the original post adds one thing to what has been rehashed ad nauseam in previous threads.

  3. The original post is simply not accurate. As the above article notes at page 370, when a bank customer such as Klein’s deposited a Postal Money Order, the bank was acting as an agent, not a purchaser of the Postal Money Order. As we have shown on previous threads – not by guessing, but through Federal Reserve and Treasury Department circulars and regulations – the paying bank for a Postal Money Order is the Postal Service; the regional Federal Reserve Bank serves as the collection agent for the Postal Service pursuant to an agreement with the Postmaster General. When a local Federal Reserve member bank receives a Postal Money Order from a customer, it packages the Postal Money Order with other cash items and transmits it to the regional Federal Reserve Bank. The regional Federal Reserve Bank immediately credits the local (presenting) bank and debits the Postal Service’s account at the Treasury Department. When the Treasury Department receives the Postal Money Order, it stamps it with a File Locator Number and places it into storage for the required retention period. In short, the entire transaction is one of agency, entirely unlike the processing of a bank check, and there is simply no need for “endorsement” by the local Federal Reserve member bank, the regional Federal Reserve Bank or the Treasury Department.

It appears the desire to preserve the “Money Order mystery” has reached a stage of desperation on the part of proponents of the mystery. Why this should be the case, I really have no idea. Is it that big a deal if John Armstrong has a bit of egg on his face and one of the truly minor supposed mysteries of the assassination has proved to be not so mysterious after all?

I love statements like, “What's amazing is that the Warren Commission, with all of its elite staff attorneys, never delved into the payment chain of the Hidell PMO, which would have been readily available to them. The only rational explanation as to why they didn't delve is that they didn't want to uncover the truth. What's amazing too is that neither the HSCA nor the ARRB delved into the payment chain.”

I would submit “the only rational explanation” is that the deposit stamp and File Locator Number made clear to everyone that the Klein’s Postal Money Order was processed precisely as it should have been. Oh, I forgot – the phrase “rational explanation” is a term of art in the JFK assassination community, meaning “an explanation tending to support an exotic conspiracy theory, no matter how irrational said explanation may seem to those who are not wedded to said conspiracy theory.”

I would further submit that the existence of the File Locator Number and the fact that the Postal Money Order was located precisely where it should have been after the assassination have shifted the burden to the proponents of the mystery to come forth with evidence approximately as compelling as that which would be required to establish there are fairies and unicorns frolicking in their gardens.

Edited by Lance Payette

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Knowing that the Hidell PMO appears to be a fake, based on verifiable facts, tells me there's something rotten; something the Warren Commission, the HSC, and the ARRB should have considered.

Armstrong is coming. Guns blazing.

Jon [Tidd] is correct.

And he is also right in asking why on earth did the HSCA or the ARRB never investigate this?

Why on Earth would they have felt any NEED to investigate such a stupid claim regarding alleged fakery of the Hidell/Oswald money order? As far back as 1964, everybody in officialdom already knew the money order was totally legitimate. And that's because they knew it had Lee Harvey Oswald's very own handwriting all over the front of it, plus the Klein's stamp which proves that Klein's handled it, plus the fact it was found in the exact spot where it should have been found on 11/23/63. What more did they need?

It's only the obsessive conspiracy theorists of the world who have the slightest desire to pursue this subject to the ends of the Earth. And that's because they'll do anything they can--no matter how far-fetched--in order to take that rifle out of the hands of the man who obviously purchased it, Lee H. Oswald.

And the ARRB's job certainly wasn't to "investigate" anything anyway. (Doug Horne's crazy notions notwithstanding.) Why in the world they took ANY testimony from any witnesses is still a mystery to me. There was no need for it whatsoever.

But this fascination that many CTers continue to have with "Money Order Fakery" isn't surprising to me in the least. I pretty much could have predicted months ago that most of the hardcore Internet conspiracy theorists would never actually have the balls to come out and admit they were wrong about the money order being fraudulent. Because if they were to do that, it would force them to re-examine a few other things relating to Oswald's rifle purchase, such as the order form (CE773) that Oswald sent to Klein's to buy the rifle, plus Waldman Exhibit No. 7, which proves that Klein's did ship the C2766 rifle to Oswald's very own post office box in Dallas and also proves that Klein's did receive payment from a certain "A. Hidell" in the amount of $21.45 via a money order on March 13, 1963.

And if U.S. Postal Money Order #2,202,130,462 is a real and legitimate document that was handled by Lee Harvey Oswald and was mailed to Klein's Sporting Goods by Lee Harvey Oswald, then where can the conspiracy theorists go with the idea that all of that other stuff relating to the same rifle purchase is somehow fake and fraudulent?

In short, if that money order is the real deal, then Lee Harvey Oswald did order a rifle from Klein's Sporting Goods in 1963. And many conspiracists just don't like that idea at all. Right, Mr. DiEugenio?

Edited by David Von Pein

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Toy cannon?

In legalese this is called the preemptive strike.

And I love the way he terms this all "goofiness". I guess those two bank supervisors were JFK aficionados also. And they read John's book and could not resist his charm and his demeanor.

Or maybe John promised them a payoff? (Impeaching the witness, right.)

And then the guy has the chutzpah to say, well why didn't John interview them before.

Uh, Mr. Lance Lawyer, why didn't you do that before you graced us with your Perry Mason presence.

Keep it up, you and DVP are a lovefest made in heaven. Von Pein loves lawyers who take his side. Just like he fell in love with Reclaiming History two years before it was published.

The problem was this: see, the JFK case is anything but your usual garden variety felony case. That is what Bugliosi thought, and that is why his book is a giant, bloated, pretentious argument by verbosity and argument by insult. (And, btw, the latter is what Lance is becoming,)

The problem in this case is that there was no legal procedure to protect the defendant. Therefore, anything went. The WC was, in large part, a rubber stamp for Hoover. (Which is something that to me, its incredible that Mr. Lawyer does not understand.) As lawyers say, a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. Well, that was the Warren Commission, as long as the sandwich had Oswald's name on it. You can't just isolate one aspect of one complex transaction and say, "Well, that is that, see you around." Far from it. That is like Hoover calling up Bardwell Odum and saying: Get Paine to say its his Minox. Odum does. And then, somehow, Oswald's Minox was never there.

Except it was.

See, there is a lawyer's truth--Hoover was a lawyer--and there is an actual truth.

John will be getting at the latter.

Edited by James DiEugenio

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".... there is simply no need for “endorsement” by the local Federal Reserve member bank, ...."

I'll believe that when you prove it, Lance. Who knows... you may even be right. But as of now it is just your opinion that you're trying to pass off as fact.

The requirement for bank stamps on PMOs was published in United States Official Postal Guides prior to 1951, which is the year Federal Reserve Banks began processing PMOs. Beginning 1951 the requirement for bank stamps on PMOs was published in Regulation J and in FRB Operating Circulars. Beginning 1987 the requirement for bank stamps on PMOs was published in Regulation CC and in FRB Operating Circulars. (The latest Regulation CC I've looked at is dated 2001. I don't know if the bank stamp requirement has changed since then.)

Here is the FRB requirement for bank stamps on PMOs for 1963, copied from FRB Operating Circular 4928:

Items which will be accepted as cash items

1. The following will be accepted for collection as cash items:

(1) Checks drawn on banks or banking institutions (including private

bankers) located in any Federal Reserve District which are collectible

at par in funds acceptable to the collecting Federal Reserve Bank. The

“ Federal Reserve Par List,” indicating the banks upon which checks will

be received by Federal Reserve Banks for collection and credit, is fur­

nished from time to time and a supplement is furnished each month

showing changes subsequent to the last complete list. This list is subject

to change without notice and the right is reserved to return without

presentment any items drawn on banks which may have withdrawn or

may have been removed from the list or may have been reported elosed.

(2) Government checks drawn on the Treasurer of the United States.

(3) Postal money orders (United States postal money orders; United

States international postal money orders; and domestic-international

postal money orders).

(4) Such other items, collectible at par in funds acceptable to the

Federal Reserve Bank of the District in which such items are payable, as

we may be willing to accept as cash items.

o

o

o

Endorsements

13. All cash items sent to us, or to another Federal Reserve Bank

direct for our account, should be endorsed without restriction to the

order of the Federal Reserve Bank to which sent, or endorsed to the

order of any bank, banker or trust company, or with some similar

endorsement. Cash items will be accepted by us, and by other Federal

Reserve Banks, only upon the understanding and condition that all

prior endorsements are guaranteed by the sending bank. There should

be incorporated in the endorsement of the sending bank the phrase,

“ All prior endorsements guaranteed.” The act of sending or deliver­ing a

cash item to us or to another Federal Reserve Bank will, however,

be deemed and understood to constitute a guaranty of all prior

endorsements on such item, whether or not an express guaranty is

incorporated in the sending bank’s endorsement. The endorsement of

the sending bank should be dated and should show the American

Bankers Association transit number of the sending bank in prominent

type on both sides.

Edited by Sandy Larsen

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The $21.45 A. Hidell postal money order is provably a fake. The fakery is evident. The proof of fakery is obtainable today.

I’m not going to get sucked back into this goofiness even if John Armstrong appears with his toy cannon blazing, but I would merely point out:

  1. There is a legal maxim: When the law is against you, argue the facts; when the facts are against you, argue the law; when both are against you, scream and pound the table. We seemingly can modify this for assassination debates along the lines of, When you have had your butt kicked up one side and down the other, keep starting new threads on the same topic and hope the old threads will be overlooked.
  1. For those who just can’t get enough of this stuff, the legal aspects of Postal Money Orders are nicely summarized in a 1967 article, Legal Aspects of Postal Money Orders, in the Cornell Law Review: http://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3600&context=clr.

  2. The original post assumes the very point in dispute – i.e., that Postal Money Orders did, in fact, require endorsements or bank stamps. If you cannot see this, you truly have gone off the cliff. I do not see that the original post adds one thing to what has been rehashed ad nauseam in previous threads.

  3. The original post is simply not accurate. As the above article notes at page 370, when a bank customer such as Klein’s deposited a Postal Money Order, the bank was acting as an agent, not a purchaser of the Postal Money Order. As we have shown on previous threads – not by guessing, but through Federal Reserve and Treasury Department circulars and regulations – the paying bank for a Postal Money Order is the Postal Service; the regional Federal Reserve Bank serves as the collection agent for the Postal Service pursuant to an agreement with the Postmaster General. When a local Federal Reserve member bank receives a Postal Money Order from a customer, it packages the Postal Money Order with other cash items and transmits it to the regional Federal Reserve Bank. The regional Federal Reserve Bank immediately credits the local (presenting) bank and debits the Postal Service’s account at the Treasury Department. When the Treasury Department receives the Postal Money Order, it stamps it with a File Locator Number and places it into storage for the required retention period. In short, the entire transaction is one of agency, entirely unlike the processing of a bank check, and there is simply no need for “endorsement” by the local Federal Reserve member bank, the regional Federal Reserve Bank or the Treasury Department.

It appears the desire to preserve the “Money Order mystery” has reached a stage of desperation on the part of proponents of the mystery. Why this should be the case, I really have no idea. Is it that big a deal if John Armstrong has a bit of egg on his face and one of the truly minor supposed mysteries of the assassination has proved to be not so mysterious after all?

I love statements like, “What's amazing is that the Warren Commission, with all of its elite staff attorneys, never delved into the payment chain of the Hidell PMO, which would have been readily available to them. The only rational explanation as to why they didn't delve is that they didn't want to uncover the truth. What's amazing too is that neither the HSCA nor the ARRB delved into the payment chain.”

I would submit “the only rational explanation” is that the deposit stamp and File Locator Number made clear to everyone that the Klein’s Postal Money Order was processed precisely as it should have been. Oh, I forgot – the phrase “rational explanation” is a term of art in the JFK assassination community, meaning “an explanation tending to support an exotic conspiracy theory, no matter how irrational said explanation may seem to those who are not wedded to said conspiracy theory.”

I would further submit that the existence of the File Locator Number and the fact that the Postal Money Order was located precisely where it should have been after the assassination have shifted the burden to the proponents of the mystery to come forth with evidence approximately as compelling as that which would be required to establish there are fairies and unicorns frolicking in their gardens.

Lance,

Another excellent post by an astute researcher and highly-articulate member.

Thanks for continuing to contribute here and for showing us that in 1963 postal money orders did not require endorsements or bank stamps.

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves

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