Liveblogging the Civil War False Claims Act: a court interpreter is arrested for fraud, Army officers are investigated

by Ben Vernia | January 14th, 2013

On January 1, 1863, the New York Times reported that the New York County Board of Supervisors had been notified by the District Attorney that a court interpreter had been arrested on charges of defrauding the government. This provoked outrage on the part of William M. “Boss” Tweed:

The Board of Supervisors met at 3 o’clock P.M. on Tuesday. A communication was received from A. Oakey Hall, the District-Attorney, stating that a vacancy substantially exists in the office of interpreter to the Court of General Sessions, by reason of the involuntary absence of Mr. Kazinsky, under “charges which, even if false, will very materially hampe confidence in a Court interpreter,” and asking that his place be declared vacant and a successor appointed. Mr. TWEED supposed that Mr. Kazinsky was incarcerated in Fort Lafayette. Mr. WEISSMAN said Mr. Kazinsky was arrested on charges of defrauding the Government. Mr. TWEED was indignant that the District-Attorney should attempt to defame a man against whom nothing was yet proven. Mr. PURDY was disposed to shield the District-Attorney from blame in the matter, believing that he acted from proper motives, and with the desire for the public good. The communication was referred, for an investigation of the whole subject.

On January 4, the paper reported that the investigation into wartime frauds had turned to local Army officers:

FRAUDS ON THE GOVERNMENT — PROGRESS OF THE INVESTIGATION. — Mr. OLCOTT, the Commissioner appointed by the Government to investigate frauds connected with the raising of volunteers in this City, is continuing his investigation at the office of the Commissioner, No. 42 Lispenard-street. He has recently taken up the case of a well-known Brigadier-General of high standing, and the evidence of his complicity in wholesale frauds upon the Government is of the most startling character. The rascality of a certain New-York Colonel in defrauding the Government is also under investigation, and from present appearances bids fair to exceed that of any of his colaborers. Prominent citizens are daily calling at the office of the Commissioner to furnish evidence of frauds upon the Government which have come under their notice.

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