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Did Ruth Paine destroy evidence


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Ruth Paine destroys Worker and Militant.

This she admitted to.

It is a federal crime to destroy mail addressed to another.

Ruth destroyed property Lee had paid for.

what penalties are there for such crimes.

5 years in prison and financial penalties

 

Mrs. Paine: I believe so. I might say that my awareness of his subscribing to these last two, the Militant and the Worker, came after the assassination. There was mail waiting for him for that weekend which he did not pick up on the 21st, and after the assassination, indeed, after Saturday evening, the 23rd, when it was announced on television that they had a photograph of Lee Oswald holding two papers. I looked at this pile of mail waiting for him which consisted of these two newspapers, the Militant and the Worker, and I threw them away.
Mr. Jenner: You threw them away?
Mrs. Paine: Without opening them
Mr. Jenner: Why did you throw them away?
Mrs. Paine: I was pleased to throw away anything I could. I just didn't want it. 
Mr. Jenner: Well, my question or query, and I think expression of surprise, is activated by what I am about to ask you as to whether you might call that to the attention of the FBI?
Mrs. Paine: Oh, I am sure they knew.
Mr. Jenner: How are you sure they knew?
Mrs. Paine: Because mail stopped coming on the spot, nothing came after the assassination, I was certain it was still coming to some place.
Mr. Jenner: But this was almost instantaneously after you heard a broadcast that a photograph of him had been found in which he had been holding up the Militant. But you immediately went to see if he had that mail and there was a copy of the Militant and you threw it away?
Mrs. Paine: Why not?
Mr. Jenner: Well, it occurred to me you might have called the FBI's attention to the fact that it had come to the house. But you didn't in any event? 
Mrs. Paine: No I didn't. 

Paine changes her story

Her FBI interview of 7/31/64 Ruth now claimed she found out that Oswald subscribed to the Militant one week 
after the assassination, instead of on the 23rd, and also that she destroyed a Russian magazine. 

 

She should have marked them and stuck them back in the mail...or just minded her own business and turned over any mail to Marina or authorities.
She didnt.
If Lee is alive and Ruth is selecting what mail he can receive, is there a federal crime she is admitting to.
If she see's the BYPs and then throws away evidence it is beyond suspicion.
If she was questioned by police or feds then throws out mail she is most certainly guilty of a charge.

 

She destroyed mail specifically magazines/newspapers not addressed to her.

QUOTE

"Section 1702 Obstruction of Mail Generally.  Whoever takes any letter, postal card or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in the post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to whom it was directed, with the desire to obstruct the correspondence, or try to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secrets, embezzles or destroy the same, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both (25 June 1948, ch 645, par 1, 62 Stat. 778).  A violation of this section is a felony."

(This reminds me of Judyth Vary Baker admitting to murdering a man in prison.)

Or

1703 instead, “Delay or destruction of mail or newspapers”
QUOTE
"Whoever, without authority, opens, or destroys any mail or package of newspapers not directed to him, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

 

Oops!!

Cheers

Ed

Edited by Ed LeDoux
Add 1703
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I've heard that the Militant and the Worker were political opposites, much like trying to portray a coherent ideology by holding up a copy of The Nation and a copy of National Review. I'd be curious if the two papers were indeed identified by their names on the television broadcast, because there is no way she would have been able to tell their names just by looking at the television.

Either way, destroying his mail before he was dead was 1. A crime, and 2. Proves that Ruth Paine judged him as guilty before Oswald even had a lawyer, much less had his day in court. And Paine as Oswald's acquaintance knew Lee had not expressed any antipathy toward President Kennedy. Wouldn't that alone cause any fair minded person to at least withhold judgement until more information was in? But she either judged him guilty (would that not be a sin on her part on top of being openly contemptuous of the law and Lee's rights?) or she suspected he would never return to collect his mail.

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I did not realize in my entire life until two weeks ago that it is a federal US crime to not forward junk mail--what used to be called fourth class or bulk mail, now called "standard" mail, which includes catalogs, magazines, newspapers, bulk mail advertising, commonly known as "junk mail"--that comes to an address after someone moves. I learned that for the first time from reading Tom Gram on this Ruth Paine/Oswald-newspapers issue, and seeing the law quoted and verifying it, to my amazement saw that is right, it is against the law. 

US post offices by policy have never forwarded such mail that I have ever heard (unless proactive provisions are made to pay additional postage) but simply destroy such mail, and according to reports, post offices and local carriers have no interest in people transporting other people's junk mail to them for them to shred and destroy, though that (I now understand) is the law. This law concerning this class of mail is so little known that I would estimate 80-90% of the American public if asked would be unaware of the existence of this law concerning illegality of destroying junk mail (standard class, bulk mail, formerly known as 4th-class) of someone who used to live somewhere rather than a legal requirement to turn it in to the post office (which the post office will destroy rather than forward). About 100% of Americans do understand that first-class mail should be preserved and forwarded and there is nearly universal compliance with that. But "standard" class mail--catalogs, newspapers and magazines, bulk advertising--that non-forwarding or destruction of that is against the law is so little known that open and public informational sites on the internet often do not have a clue. To give just one example of many, this from a site called "Lifehacker" which gives practical and sensible advice to readers, in response to the question: "How Can I Stop Getting Mail Addressed to Someone Else?":

"You might just be tempted to toss it in the trash. Don’t do it. It’s probably fine for things like ads, flyers or other missives that are clearly junk, but you’re not helping yourself or the other person by just tossing everything not addressed to you in the garbage." (https://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-stop-getting-mail-addressed-to-someone-else-1444875925)

That is what I always thought (in the bold), and pretty clearly what Ruth Paine thought at the time too. The Lifehacker site has no more awareness of the law on this than I did until two weeks ago. 

Here is a discussion of the law on this point that enlightened me. From the comments one can see the popular confusion and lack of awareness of Americans over this issue: https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/52349/is-it-illegal-to-throw-away-the-previous-tenants-standard-mail.  

As for when Ruth Paine destroyed those newspapers: her testimony says it was "after" late Saturday night without saying it was Saturday night. It is likely Ruth Paine destroyed those newspapers at some point after Oswald's death on Sunday morning. Nothing in her testimony conflicts with that, and it makes more sense.

In the case of a deceased person, mail legally is supposed to be forwarded to the deceased person's estate, which in the case of Lee Harvey Oswald presumably would be Marina Oswald or someone designated by Marina to handle Lee's estate. Ruth could personally convey the deceased Lee's newspapers to Marina or Marina's representative, or Lee's newspapers could have been returned to the post office where the newspapers would normally be destroyed without forwarding (since not first-class mail).

There are some people involved in JFK assassination conspiracy theories who have been merciless toward Ruth Paine. When Ruth Paine DID forward property of Marina Oswald to Marina in the days and weeks after the police searches, Ruth Paine has been maliciously and bitterly attacked for doing that--for what is called "producing a steady stream of incriminating evidence" used to make Lee Harvey Oswald look bad. The venom directed against Ruth Paine on this accusation (of producing a "steady stream of incriminating evidence" against Oswald) has been astounding. This would have been one more such case if Ruth Paine had done so. Ruth Paine would have been condemned in vicious ways as she already has been, if she had conveyed those newspapers to Marina. It is always argued in such vile attacks upon Ruth Paine that the police in their searches could not have missed such things in two thorough searches, therefore Ruth forged or planted or maliciously created or caused or invented the things Ruth conveyed to Marina or authorities. This would have been one more such case cited, added to the shameful abuse which has long and undeservedly been heaped on Ruth Paine.

To be clear, Ruth Paine is here being maliciously attacked for NOT doing what she would have been maliciously attacked for if she HAD done.

But the fact is correct: according to the law, which nothing indicates Ruth was any more aware of that law's existence at the time than I have been in my life before now, legally she should not have tossed those newspapers, but should have conveyed them to Marina as Lee's heir, for Marina to process or dispose of, or else to the post office to dispose of. However if Marina had indicated, including verbally, to Ruth that Ruth was authorized by Marina to manage mail for her or Lee after Lee's death, then that action of Ruth with Lee's newspapers would have been legally proper.  

The header of this topic also confuses the issue. The mail-destruction law has nothing to do with whether mail is evidence in a criminal case. Ed LeDoux asks the question in the topic header whether Ruth destroyed evidence, which is a different issue altogether. Unless Ruth had been advised by a lawful authority that further property in her house not taken by police in their searches was criminal evidence--unless Ruth had been advised or notified of that--or unless she had cause to know it bore materially on commission of a crime--there is no "destruction of evidence" issue there legally. And if there was, that would have nothing to do with the mail-destruction issue, distinct issues.

Ruth showed no awareness of legal impropriety at the time she threw out those newspapers. When asked why, she said "why not?" I do not know whether ignorance of the law would be a legal defense or not in this case, whether wilfulness (awareness of committing wrongdoing) would need to be established to convict Ruth in court of destruction of a deceased person's bulk mail instead of returning it to the post office for the post office to destroy it, or conveying to the deceased person's estate or heirs for processing by that estate or heirs. In all of her other affairs Ruth showed herself to have been law-abiding or seeking to be law-abiding, with the sole exception known to me of wilful refusal to pay war taxes on grounds of conscience in later years.

I have had plenty of moves and post office boxes and mail forwardings of myself and housemates in my life, and I never knew until two weeks ago that tossing junk mail--bulk-mailed catalogs, magazines, newspapers, advertising flyers--that kept arriving for other people after they moved away, was illegal. Have I myself done that, as is done millions of times daily across America to the present day? I think I better take the Fifth Amendment! 🙂 

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8 minutes ago, Greg Doudna said:

I did not realize in my entire life until two weeks ago that it is a federal US crime to not forward junk mail--what used to be called fourth class or bulk mail, now called "standard" mail, which includes catalogs, magazines, newspapers, bulk mail advertising, commonly known as "junk mail"--that comes to an address after someone moves. I learned that for the first time from reading Tom Gram on this Ruth Paine/Oswald-newspapers issue, and seeing the law quoted and verifying it, to my amazement saw that is right, it is against the law.

Greg, just for information you can find the current "handling procedures" for the different classifications of mail in the Domestic Mail Manual(DMM), as we who work(ed) for the USPS call it.  Though the names of the mail classes has change over time, the general handling is much the same today as it was in 1963.  First Class mail and the premium services for it (Priority & Priority Express) are NEVER to be disposed of unless damaged to an exent that it is indecipherable or it is unclaimed on both the receiver's end and upon return to sender afterward.  You group a lot of mail as "Standard" that are handled differently.  The main issue with this is your assessment of magazines/newspapers as standard mail.  That is not the case.  Magazines, newspapers and periodicals are what used to be called 2nd Class mail.  They are forwardable for a short period of time after someone moves.  Once this period of time expires, if the person has not notified the publisher, they are returned (or a notice of the recipients new address is sent to the publisher.  Once that scenario has played out, they are destroyed.  The mail once called 4th Class, has a few groupings now, but then as now they were handled according to the "endorsement" made by the original mailer.  Just a short sampling of endorsements:  1) NO Endorsement, DO NOT FORWARD-DO NOT RETURN Or DO NOT FORWARD - item is trashed  2) RETURN TO SENDER - item is returned to the original mailer (postage due is charged)  3) ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED - a notice of the recipients new address is sent to the mailer for a set fee & the item is destroyed .

I know these rules because I worked at USPS for 30 years from 1987 to 2107 as a clerk and was first trained as a forwarding clerk before learning the "scheme" in order to sort mail.  To my knowledge, it has never been a punishable crime to destroy/throw out anything in the Fourth Class genre of mail even with the endorsements (unless you are employed by USPS).  If you are employed by USPS, you might face disciplinary measures if you are knowingly disposing of mail which is supposed to be handled otherwise, but not charged with a crime.

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2 minutes ago, Richard Price said:

Greg, just for information you can find the current "handling procedures" for the different classifications of mail in the Domestic Mail Manual(DMM), as we who work(ed) for the USPS call it.  Though the names of the mail classes has change over time, the general handling is much the same today as it was in 1963.  First Class mail and the premium services for it (Priority & Priority Express) are NEVER to be disposed of unless damaged to an exent that it is indecipherable or it is unclaimed on both the receiver's end and upon return to sender afterward.  You group a lot of mail as "Standard" that are handled differently.  The main issue with this is your assessment of magazines/newspapers as standard mail.  That is not the case.  Magazines, newspapers and periodicals are what used to be called 2nd Class mail.  They are forwardable for a short period of time after someone moves.  Once this period of time expires, if the person has not notified the publisher, they are returned (or a notice of the recipients new address is sent to the publisher.  Once that scenario has played out, they are destroyed.  The mail once called 4th Class, has a few groupings now, but then as now they were handled according to the "endorsement" made by the original mailer.  Just a short sampling of endorsements:  1) NO Endorsement, DO NOT FORWARD-DO NOT RETURN Or DO NOT FORWARD - item is trashed  2) RETURN TO SENDER - item is returned to the original mailer (postage due is charged)  3) ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED - a notice of the recipients new address is sent to the mailer for a set fee & the item is destroyed .

I know these rules because I worked at USPS for 30 years from 1987 to 2107 as a clerk and was first trained as a forwarding clerk before learning the "scheme" in order to sort mail.  To my knowledge, it has never been a punishable crime to destroy/throw out anything in the Fourth Class genre of mail even with the endorsements (unless you are employed by USPS).  If you are employed by USPS, you might face disciplinary measures if you are knowingly disposing of mail which is supposed to be handled otherwise, but not charged with a crime.

Richard Price, thank you for speaking from your experience and knowledge with the US Postal Service clarifying some points, especially the clarification that Oswald's newspapers would be considered "second-class" not fourth-class, though as I understand it all non-first-class mail is by definition "standard class" (I hope I do not have that wrong). THANK YOU for giving real information. All I know of the Post Office and carriers is I value and appreciate their work every day, salt of the earth, the heart of America.

The one point of interest I would like to draw out for the attention of others reading this--without intent to embarrass--is this, which I believe illustrates how little-known US law applicable to the issue of Ruth Paine's destruction of Oswald's newspapers is--so little known that (please excuse Richard, citing you as the example here, you are a good person)--not even an experienced retired Post Office person right here and now has been aware that relevant US law forbids destruction of all mail of all classes by anyone other than the U.S. Post Office itself, i.e. legally, it is a crime for anyone other than the USPS to destroy mail addressed to someone else of any class. Your comment proves the point of how little known this aspect of the law is, in that not even a veteran US Post Office personnel such as yourself realizes it.

13 minutes ago, Richard Price said:

I know these rules because I worked at USPS for 30 years from 1987 to 2107 as a clerk and was first trained as a forwarding clerk before learning the "scheme" in order to sort mail.  To my knowledge, it has never been a punishable crime to destroy/throw out anything in the Fourth Class genre of mail even with the endorsements (unless you are employed by USPS).  If you are employed by USPS, you might face disciplinary measures if you are knowingly disposing of mail which is supposed to be handled otherwise, but not charged with a crime.

I hesitate to go against 30 years of experience but the legal sites I look at say differently: that there is no exception as to class of mail; that according to U.S. law no individual person may destroy any class of US mail addressed to any other person on their own, without exception, and it is a federal crime to do so. I wonder if you could be getting what you say based on, in your life of experience you have never seen a citizen prosecuted for destruction of someone else's 4th class mail. That as policy of the USPS I do not doubt is reflected accurately in your description. But the law is so little known that not even career US Postal Service employees understand the law being quoted to crucify Ruth Paine. Again thanks for your comments Richard.

https://law.justia.com/codes/us/1994/title18/parti/chap83/sec1703

https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/52349/is-it-illegal-to-throw-away-the-previous-tenants-standard-mail

"As indicated here, throwing away mail is the crime of obstructing mail. There is no exception for "junk mail" i.e. standard mail. It is possible (virtually guaranteed) that an individual postmaster or the USPS has a different disposition of the two kinds or mail when returned, but that is about USPS and not you. It is highly unlikely that you will find an official statement to the effect that it is "okay" to violate the law in the case of disposition of returned standard mail, even if in fact there is virtually no chance of being prosecuted for recycling."

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19 minutes ago, Greg Doudna said:

"As indicated here, throwing away mail is the crime of obstructing mail. There is no exception for "junk mail" i.e. standard mail. It is possible (virtually guaranteed) that an individual postmaster or the USPS has a different disposition of the two kinds or mail when returned, but that is about USPS and not you. It is highly unlikely that you will find an official statement to the effect that it is "okay" to violate the law in the case of disposition of returned standard mail, even if in fact there is virtually no chance of being prosecuted for recycling."

Greg, not at all to belittle your points above, I will say that the over all effect of the US Code, Title 18 is for employees within the Postal Service, though the way the last sentence has no qualifier, as such.  I will also add that in the instances involving Ruth Payne, it would have no effect as those items are already delivered to the proper person/address.  This takes that particular law, even if it were applicable out of consideration.  If the items in question were delivered after Oswald was in jail or dead, they should have been put back in the mailbox with an endorsement (handwritten note) stating that there was no such person at the address/return to sender.  In the case of magazines/newspapers, the postal employee would have then endorsed them also and sent them through the currently existing system for destruction or return.  In the event they were delivered after his death, the rule now and I think even in 1963, was that the mail be marked with "DECEASED" handwritten to show respect.  This is the only endorsement that is officially to be handwritten, clerks and carriers use rubber stamps for all other endorsements.

Just as an aside, since until a little over 4 years ago when I retired, the US Code applied to me as a USPS employee, so I never thought to parse it out looking for other outside perspectives.  I worked with enough Postal Inspectors to understand the implications of any mishandling of any mail.  I personally was part (unfortunately) of at least three (3) persons facing criminal charges/being discharged from the USPS.  One was found to be not delivering/destroying advertisement circulars, one was stealing/destroying Overnight Express mail and the third was overstating his number of deliveries thereby increasing his pay and resulting also in destruction of standard mail in excess of actual deliveries and causing the mailer to pay for the excess on every mailing.

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My dad worked for the USPO, the predecessor to the USPS, as well as working for the USPS. He worked there from 1968 until his death in 1991 at age 61. 

Newspapers were second-class mail in the 1960s. Including November and December of 1963. Ruth Payne did technically violate the law.

And Postal Inspectors were NOT known for their senses of humor. I was told that they could legally be more ruthless in an investigation than the FBI.

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