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THREATENING COMMUNICATIONS IN THE MAILS

MAY 4, 1935.- Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed

Mr. ASHBROOK, from the Committee on the Post Office and Post

Roads, submitted the following

REPORT

[To accompany H. R. 6717)

The Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads, having had under consideration the bill (H. R. 6717) to amend section 1 of the act of July 8, 1932, reports the same back to the House with the following amendments:

Page 1, line 4: After "U. S. C.” insert "Sup. VII".

Page 2, lines 2 and 3: Strike out the words “or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed”.

Page 2, line 19: Strike out the comma at the end of the line and insert a period in lieu thereof.

Page 2, lines 20, 21, and 22: Strike out the words or in the judicial district in which it was caused to be delivered by the United States mail to the person to whom it was addressed.

So amended, the committee recommends that the bill do pass.

The purpose of the bill is to make the offense of mailing extortion letters subject to trial at the place of delivery as well as at the place of mailing.

The bill meets with the approval of the Post Office Department. The Postmaster General's report reads as follows:

Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT,

Washington, D. C., April 19, 1935. Hon. James M. MEAD, Chairman Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads,

House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. MEAD: The receipt is acknowledged of your letter of the 8th instant, requesting a report on H. Ř. 6717, a bill to amend section of the act of July 8, 1932.

The amendment to the existing law proposed in H. R. 6717 would permit prosecution of the senders of extortion letters in the jurisdiction where such mail is delivered. While no cases have arisen in which the change in the law would have been beneficial, it is conceivable that cases might arise in which the provision permitting prosecution in the jurisdiction where the mail is delivered would be of considerable value. Very truly yours,

W. W. Howes, Acting Postmaster General.

CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

In compliance with paragraph 2a of rule XIII of the House, the changes proposed by the bill (H. R. 6717) in existing law (sec. 1 of the act of July 8, 1932; U. S. C., Supp. VII, title 18, sec. 338a) are shown as follows the matter proposed to be stricken out by the bill is shown in black brackets and the new matter proposed to be inserted by the bill is shown by italics; the existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

Whoever, with intent to extort from any person any money or other thing of value, shall knowingly deposit or cause to be deposited in any post office or station thereof, or in any authorized depository for mail matter, to be sent or delivered by the post-office establishment of the United States, or shall knowingly cause to be delivered by the post-office establishment of the United States according to the direction thereon or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any written or printed letter or other communication with or without a name or designating mark subscribed thereto, addressed to any other person, and containing any threat (1) to injure the person, property, or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person, or (2) to kidnap any person, or (3) to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, or containing any demand or request for ransom or reward for the release of any kidnaped person, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both: Provided, That any person violating this section may be prosecuted in the judicial district in which such letter or other communication is deposited in such post office, station, or authorized depository for mail matter, or in the judicial district into which such letter or other communication was carried by the United States mail for delivery according to the direction thereon, or in the judicial district in which it was caused to be delivered by the United States mail to the person to whom it was addressed.

The changes proposed by the bill as amended by the committee are shown below in the same manner:

Whoever, with intent to extort from any person any money or other thing of value, shall knowingly deposit or cause to be deposited in any post office or station thereof, or in any authorized depository for mail matter, to be sent or delivered by the post-office establishment of the United States, or shall knowingly cause to be delivered by the post-office establishment of the United States according to the direction thereon, any written or printed letter or other communication with or without a name or designating mark subscribed thereto, addressed to any other person, and containing any threat (1) to injure the person, property, or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person, or (2) to kidnap any person, or (3) to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, or containing any demand or request for ransom or reward for the release of any kidnapped person, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both: Provided, That any person violating this section may be prosecuted in the judicial district in which such letter or other communication is deposited in such post office, station, or authorized depository for mail matter, or in the judicial district into which such letter or other communication was carried by the United States mail for delivery according to the direction thereon.

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AMEND JOINT RESOLUTION FOR RELIEF OF PUERTO

RICO

MAY 4, 1935.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of

the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. KOCIALKOWSKI, from the Committee on Insular Affairs, submitted

the following

REPORT

[To accompany H. J. Res. 129]

The Committee on Insular Affairs, to whom was referred the joint resolution (H. J. Res. 129) to permit an adjudication with respect to liens of the United States arising by virtue of loans under the "Joint resolution for the relief of Puerto Rico", approved December 21, 1928, and for other purposes, having considered the same, report thereon with amendments, and, as so amended, recommend that the bill

do pass.

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The committee amendments are as follows:

On page 2, line 3, strike out beginning with the word "Baltimore” down through the word "and" in line 5 and insert in lieu thereof “Baltimore or.

On page 2, line 6, strike out beginning with the word "acting" down through the comma in line 7.

On page 4, line 12, strike out beginning with the word "Baltimore" through the word "and" in line 13 and insert in lieu thereof "Baltimore or.

On page 4, line 17, strike out beginning with the word “bank” down through the word "and" and insert in lieu thereof “Federal Land Bank of Baltimore or".

On page 4, line 21, strike out beginning with the word “in” down through the word “Corporation” in line 23 and insert in lieu thereof “or the said corporation”.

On page 5, line 7, strike out beginning with the word “Baltimore" down through the word "and" in line 8 and insert in lieu thereof “Baltimore or.

On page 5, line 9, strike out "acquire or deem” and insert in lieu thereof "acquires or deems”.

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On page 6, line 2, strike out beginning with the word "said ” down through the word "and" in line 3 and insert in lieu thereof “Federal Land Bank of Baltimore or.

On page 6, line 6, strike out beginning with the word “bank” down through the word "Corporation" in line 8 and substitute in lieu thereof "said bank or the said corporation".

On page 6, line 9, strike out the quotation marks after the word Commission” and add the following paragraph:

“(d) For the purposes of this section, the terms 'Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Commission', 'Hurricane Relief Commission' and ‘Commission' shall be deemed to refer to the department, bureau or other agency of the Government having charge of the administration of this resolution.”

EXPLANATION OF THE RESOLUTION

This resolution, with the exception of the foregoing amendments, is identical with the resolution, House Joint Resolution 344, which was favorably reported by this committee in the Seventy-Third Congress, second session, and passed the House (under suspension of the rules) on June 4, 1934, was reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs on June 8, 1934 (S. Rept. 1336), but failed to receive consideration by the Senate prior to adjournment.

The resolution is intended to provide an expedient method for the enforcement of real estate liens under mortgages heretofore or hereafter taken by the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore or in the name of the Land Bank Commissioner on behalf of the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation, in cases where the United States has a subordinato lien through loans made by the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Commission under provisions of the joint resolution approved December 21, 1928.

Several thousand loans were made by the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore to farmers in the island of Puerto Rico before the enactment of the legislation creating the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Commission. In more than 1,400 cases the loans made by that Commission are secured by second mortgages, which constitute liens subordinate and junior to the land-bank mortgages. It is legally impossible for the Federal Land Bank to institute any proceedings which will result in giving it clear title to these properties unless the United States gives its express consent to an adjudication of its liens.

The so-called "Graham Act" (46 Stat. L. 1528, Mar. 4, 1931) gave express consent to the adjudication of liens of this type in State courts and in the United States district courts, but did not, in its terms, consent to such adjudication in the insular courts of Puerto Rico. As a result, the right of such courts to adjudicate the liens of the United States was brought into question by the United States Government. Notwithstanding the fact that the United States has recently dismissed its appeal from a decision of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico which held that the term “State court”, as used in the Graham Act, includes the insular courts of Puerto Rico, there is still a possibility that the right of such courts to adjudicate liens of the United States may be brought into question.

The right of the United States District Court for Puerto Rico to adjudicate any of these liens where the amount involved is less than $3,000 is also subject to serious technical objection. Moreover, the cumbersome and expensive equity procedure in that court, and the redemption period of 1 year to which the United States would be entitled under proceedings in that court, make recourse to it for foreclosure purposes practically prohibitive even if the jurisdictional question were not presented. Because property which has been abandoned or which is operated negligently in the island of Puerto Rico deteriorates ery rapidly, the existence of a period of redemption is abnormally detrimental to the interests of mortgagees. Consequently no period of redemption is provided for in this legislation.

Since the only expedient method available to the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore to protect its rights in the island of Puerto Rico is through the insular courts, it has been practically without protection in this regard since the creation of the liens in favor of the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Commission. This situation has prevented the making of new loans in Puerto Rico by the Federal Land Bank, either on its own behalf or on behalf of the Land Bank Commissioner, and has created a bad psychological effect upon many Puerto Rican borrowers who are able to pay but who have failed to do so. It hag also prevented the Federal land bank from enforcing its rights in cases where borrowers are committing malicious waste, or where they have abandoned their farms and permitted the land to go into jungle.

The committee has been advised that the Farm Credit Administration, which exercises general supervisory authority over the Federal land banks, does not desire this legislation for the purpose of enabling the Federal land bank to foreclose mortgages on land in Puerto Rico except in cases where such action is fully justified under a reasonable and liberal policy; but that this legislation is considered necessary in the development on the part of the Federal Land Bank of Baltinore and the Land Bank Commissioner of a sound lending program for the island of Puerto Rico.

The Federal Land Bank of Baltimore is also experiencing difficulty in extending to its borrowers the benefits of loan reamortizations, due to the fact the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Commission has no apparent authority to agree that such reamortizations will not impair the status of the land-bank mortgages as prior liens. Hence, this resolution also contains a provision expressly authorizing the Hurricane Relief Commission to waive any priorities which may accrue to it by virtue of reamortization agreements entered into between the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore and its borrowers, so that the bank may be safeguarded against the probability of the lien of the Hurricane Relief Commission becoming first and paramount in such cases.

The resolution will add to the “Joint resolution for the relief of Porto Rico”, approved December 21, 1928, a new section, no. 7.

Subsection (a) of such new section confers jurisdiction upon the insular courts of the Island of Puerto Rico in mortgage foreclosure cases brought by the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore or the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation where the United States, through the Hurricane Relief Commission, has or claims a lien. The Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation is included because, under section 3 of the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation Act, approved January 31, 1934, all mortgages taken by the Land Bank Commissioner prior to that time were transferred to the Corporation and loans made by the Land Bank Commissioner after that date are made by him on

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