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STAR ROUTE CONSPIRACY.
THOMAS J. BRADY AND OTHERS.
WASHINGTON, D. C., DECEMBER 14, 15, 18, AND 19, 1882.
MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT, AND YOU, GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY : It has been assigned to me to state to you the grounds upon which the Government will ask that you pass your judgment upon the action of the defendants in this case, and to call your attention in some detail to the evidence which we shall present to you to sustain the charge which we make against them. That charge, gentlemen, is what is known as conspiracy, and it is founded upon a statute of the United States which is substantially this: There was an amendment of the statute in 1879. A portion of this charge relates to a period prior to 1879, and a portion to a period after 1879; so far as the operative portion of the statute is concerned it remains unchanged. It was the same in both periods. The statute is this:
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to d..frand the United States in any manner, or for any purpose, and one or more of such parties do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, all of the parties to such conspiracy shall be liableto a penalty specified. That is the amendinent to section 5440 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, passed on the 17th of May, 1879. It provides, you will see, gentlemen, that if any two or more persons conspire to defraud the United States in any manner whatever or for any purpose whatever, and if any one of them does any act, all of them are guilty under the statute. We expect to show you that these parties did conspire to defraud the United States out of large sums of money in connection with the postal service of the United States, and that one or more of them did various acts in pursuance of the conspiracy, and that they are all guilty under the statute. And we shall with considerable confidence ask a verdict of guilty at your hands after the evidence on both sides shall have been closed.
These defendants, gentlemen, are persons who have some of them heretofore occupied prominence in the compunity. One of them is an ex-United States Senator from the State of Arkansas. Another one of them was the Second Assistant Postmaster General, who, by virtue of his office, had charge of the whole business of making the contracts for the mail service and regulating the rate of pay which could be allowed for carrying the mails. Another one of them is the brother of the ex-United States Senator of whom I have spoken. Another is the brother in law. The brother-in-law is not before you practically, because he is dead, though I think there is no formal evidence upon that point. Another one is the friend and, to some extent, the business associate of the ex-United States Senator. The last one was his clerk and confidential employé. That is the relation which those gentlemen bear to this case; and I may say here at the outset that the theory of the Government is that the conspiracy to defraud the United States, the method of defrauding the United States, and the original idea had its birth in the mind of the exSenator, Stephen W. Dorsey, and that the first steps towards its execu
tion were taken hij ?rim; that it was impossible to carry out the conspiracy unless he got orders for the payment of money from the Treasury of the United States, which orders had to be for an extravagant and improper amount in order to make the conspiracy profitable, and that he obtained those orders from the Second Assistant PostmasterGeneral, and by corrupt means. The other parties were the pawns in the game. It was necessary to have bidders to get the contracts in form. As Stephen W. Dorsey was then a Senator, he was forbidden by the statute of the United States to take a contract in bis own name. It was necessary, therefore, to bring here to Washington the brother, who was a humble mechanic in Vermont; and the friend, who was engaged in some business in Ohio. It was necessary to use the name of the brother-in-law, who was lying sick with a disease which brought him to his grave, who was utterly unfit to attend to business, and who rarely, if ever, attended to anything in this matter except to sign his name to papers, many of them in blank, and all of them papers in the preparation of which we believe he took no active part. The conspiravy, therefore, included the Senator, his representatives and dummies, and it iucluded the Second Assistant Postmaster-General, whose co-operation was necessary to enable the conspiracy to become successful financially. I said that the Senator was forbidden to take any contracts in his own name. The statute upon that subject is, I think, section 3739, and is as follows:
No member of, or Delegate in Congress, shall directly or indirectly, himself or by any other person in trnst for him, or for his use or benefit, or on his accomut, undertake, execute, hold, or enjoy, in whole or in part, any contract or agreement made or entered into in behalf of the United States by any officer or person authorized to make contracts on behalf of the United States.
The belief of the Government is that we shall satisfy you that the Senator in form obeyed this statute, and that he took no contracts in his own name, but took them in the names of his brother, his friend, and his brother-in-law. We shall show you that he was interested in the contracts all the time. The contracts commenced on the 1st of July, 1878. On the 4th of March, 1879, he ceased to be a Senator and became ex-Senator, and within a brief ten or fifteen days after that time he became avowedly and admittedly interested in these contracts, which we say were obtained for his benefit long prior to that time and in violation of the statute. We say that the conspiracy started at the very outset with a direct violation of another statute than the conspiracy statute I have read to you, to wit, the statute which forbade a Senator of the United States to have any interest in any contract, or to have any person hold an interest in his behalf or for him. This Senator, as we say, having conceived a scheme, and having brought his friends into it, went on and aided it in every way in his power, concealing his interest. He used his position as United States Senator to write letters on official paper recommending the things necessary for the perfection of the conspiracy and its successful carrying out. He did all that until he ceased to be Senator, and then he became more openly participant in it.
Gentlemen of the jury, this indictment is confined to some nineteen contracts upon nineteen separate mail routes which were awarded at what is known as the letting of February, 1878, to take effect on the 1st of July, 1878, and to be for four years. Those contracts were let after public advertisement, and were subject to competition with other bidders. They aggregated in amount $41,135 a year. The contractors were to perform the mail service called for under those contracts for that sum. Under the fostering orders of the Second Assistant Postmaster-General,
Thomas J. Brady, the contracts within about two years after they were obtained were so transformed that they required that there should be paid by the Government of the United States for the performance of the service under them $ 118,670.90. Contracts starting at $11,135 were in two years run up to $418,670. You will bear in mind that these were annual sums, and the contracts had an average of about three years to run at these increased rates. So the result of the whole thing was, bringing it down to very close figures, that the orders Mr. Brady made in behalf of these gentlemen on these nineteen routes alone were to cost the Government during the period the contracts rau between nine hundred thousand and a million dollars in excess of the original sum. That shows you, in this case, gentlemen. confining ourselves, for the moment, simply to the routes named in this indictment, that there was paid from the Treasury, under the improvident and corrupt orders of Mr. Brady unnecessarily and improperly made, close on to a million of dollars. When I say that I speak only of the nineteen contracts in this indictment. This combination had a hundred and thirty-four contracts in all, and upon them there were other large sums of money taken from the Treasury of the United States. The order of Mr. Brady that a contract should be increased was an absolute open sesame to the Treasury of the United States, and took from the Treasury the money that he said should be taken from it without the power in any officer of the Government to say nay. If there was Mr. Brady's order that it should be paid out, that order was sufficient and it was paid.
I have said these gentlemen were concerned in a hundred anıl thirtyfour routes. There were other allowances made about the same time. There was a carnival of corruption in the Second Assistant PostmasterGeneral's office, as the result of which the Government are prepared to show you that the United States was defrauded of close on to $5,000,000.
Gentlemen, that is a general outline of this case, and will give you some idea of its importance and the reason why those of us who are. concerned in it, whose duty it is to present to you the Government's views and the Government's evidence, feel at once the weight of the reponsibility under which we are laboring, and feel also the importance of your giving to this case your most careful attention. And you should bring to the decision of the case not only your careful attention, but your honest, unbiased judgment.
The provisions of law applicable to this subject I will call to your attention. By section 388 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which relates to the organization of the Post-Office Department, it is provided that
There shall be at the seat of Government an Executive Department to be known as the Post-Office Department, and a Postmaster-General, who shall be the head thereof, and who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
By the next section it is provided thatThere shall be in the Post-Office Department three assistant postmasters-general, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who may be re!!loved in the same manner.
Then there is the general provision of the Revised Statutes, section 161, which relates to all the executive departments of the Government:
The head of each department is authorized to prescribe regulations, not inconsistent with law, for the government of his department, the conduct of its officers and clerks, the distribution and performance of its business, and the custody, use, and preservation of the records, papers, and property appertaining to it..