Mr. Wetter to Mr. Uhl .

No. 60.]

Sir: I have the honor to call your attention to the case of the United States v. John L. Waller, tried in this consular court on Monday, October 1. This case had been originally set for hearing on June 6, and the accused had been duly summoned; but on the day set for trial a letter was received from him containing a certificate signed by the Rev. Dr. Moss, wherein was certified Mr. Waller’s illness and confinement in the L. M. S. Hospital at Antananarivo. From that time up to September 27, although Mr. Waller had been out of the hospital for some weeks, he made no attempt to comply with the original summons, and this consulate would have assuredly found means to bring him to trial but for its being engaged in securing evidence of the value of a certain promissory note, signed by J. Spiral, R. Ratsimihaba, and Thomas Rasafiniandrinsby (the former a renegade Creole, who has joined the Malagasy, and the latter, Andrian Hovas, at Antananarivo) for $1,735.44, which said Waller had turned over to this consulate as the sole assets of the Crockett heirs and estate, together with a draft on the comptoir for the first year’s interest, amounting to $86.77.

The records of this consulate show the net cash received from the Crockett estate by Mr. Waller to have been $1,964.67, against which he put in a claim for $229.23 for certain expenses claimed to have been incurred on behalf of said estate by him. The residuum of the estate he claims to have invested on January 22, 1894, by loan to said parties at Antananarivo.

Evidence could have been introduced whereby a very strong showing of embezzlement could have been made against Mr. Waller, but this court did not feel authorized, under existing conditions, to proceed criminally against Mr. Waller without further instructions from the Department. Waller so strenuously insisted that the note was good, and that he could get the money back at any time, that the entire court (in considering this question at a preliminary hearing just prior to the trial) consented not to call up any evidence proving the value of the note providing he would withdraw same and substitute the money; this he agreed to do if accorded forty-five days to get it in. Not a member of the court but doubted Waller’s ability to produce the money; not a member of the court but believed that said note was fraudulent and that Waller had personally used up the entire funds in his hands, yet, owing to the fact that he had been United States consul here and, in the minds of the mass of the Madagascan public was still identified with the American good name and prestige, it was unanimously decided to give him this chance to retrieve himself if possible.

A copy of the unanimous judgment of the court is inclosed herein for the consideration of the Department. I have not inclosed a copy [Page 392] of the evidence as it is rather voluminous and the postage thereon would be quite heavy, but am ready to send same at any time.

I would call the Department’s attention to the inclosed copy of Mr. Waller’s account for expenses and charges against the Crockett estate, and in particular to the eighth item, dated November 10, 1893. This entire account was disallowed except the seventh item. I would further state that Waller, when questioned why he presumed, in direct violation of paragraph No. 501, Consular Regulations, to take said fee as a personal perquisite, replied: “In that case, I will have to pay that over to you; I thought they were personal fees.” (That the same thing has occurred with the Whitney estate can be easily proved.)

This is in positive violation of paragraph 545, Consular Regulations, and of section 1734, Revised Statutes, and becomes embezzlement.

I would request the Department to cable me on receipt of this dispatch what action to take against Mr. Waller because of this violation of section 1734, Revised Statutes cases, as well as should he fail to comply with the judgment of this court of October 1, 1894, to pay over the money by November 16, belonging to the Crockett estate.

This becomes necessary because he is straining every nerve to get away from here and float his rubber concession scheme, and would have slipped away on September 30 but for the quarantine regulations and this consulate’s vigilance.

In conclusion, I would state that the court was composed, besides myself, of Messrs. Geldart and Ryder (Messrs. Duder and Poupard having been objected to by Mr. Waller), and of Mr. Howe, a new American arrival here. Mr. Geldart is Mr. Waller’s most intimate friend and champion; Messrs. Ryder and Howe are perfectly neutral: hence the utmost impartiality has been secured to Mr. Waller.

I am, etc.,

Edw. Telfair Wetter
[Inclosure 1 in No. 60.]

The United States v. John L. Waller, administrator, guardian, etc. Negligence and mismanagement of fiduciary trusts.

Finding of the court.

This court, after a careful consideration of the evidence submitted and the statements of the accused, finds:

  • First. That Mr. Waller has been guilty of gross mismanagement of the funds of said estate.
  • Second. That Mr. Waller has in no way benefited the widow of W. F. Crockett or his minor children, either as guardian or administrator.
  • Third. That the items appearing upon his accounts as charges for a trip to Antalaka, amounting to $128, were expenditures wholly unwarrantable by the exigencies of the case and are likewise exorbitant, and therefore are disallowed.
  • Fourth. That Mr. Waller has been guilty of abuse and negligence of his fiduciary trusts, both as a citizen and an official.
  • Fifth. That we therefore adjudge him unworthy of further confidence and order his removal from said fiduciary capacities.
  • Sixth. That he pay into the United States consular court, sitting in probate jurisdiction at Tamatave, within forty-five days hereof, the amount of the balance due said Crockett’s heirs now in his hands, to wit, $1,961.67, Madagascan currency.
  • Seventh. That he be further adjudged, in view of the fact that with due diligence he could have readily found safe investment for said amount here at Tamatave, to [Page 393] pay interest at 8 per cent on said sum, $1,961.67, from January 1, 1893, amounting to $294.25 in same currency.
  • Eighth. That said defendant pay all charges of this action, costs of court, etc.

J. O. Ryder,

R. W. Geldart,

Daniel J. Howe,
Associate Justices.

Edward Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul, Acting Judicially.

United States Consulate, Tamatave.

I hereby certify that the above is an accurate copy of said judgment, as recorded in this consulate and the court records thereof. Witness my hand and seal this 26th day of October, 1894.

Edward Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul (Acting).
[Inclosure No. 2 in dispatch No. 60.]

Expenditures for the estate of the late W. F. Crockett by United States consul.

Traveling and board expenses:
Oct. 12, 1892. Captain of Nancy Lee $20.00
Oct. 16, 1892. Maigrot 7.00
Nov. 3, 1892. Mr. Stewart & Co., £4 or 20.00
Nov. 3, 1892. Mrs. Cole’s Adelphi Hotel 10.00
Oct. 25. Camo master of Gladiator. 12.00
For expenses of trip from Antalaka to Vohema between the 21st and 25th of October 1894. 59.00
Miscellaneous expenses:
Jan. 3, 1893. Madagascar News 3.00
Nov. 10, 1893. For consular fee (C. R., p. 181) on the gross sum of $1,964.67 at 5 per cent 98.23
Total 229.23
Consulate of the United States at Tamatave

I hereby certify that the above is an accurate copy of the original copy forwarded to this consulate by Mr. Waller in June last, and exhibited in the case of the United States v. John L. Waller, administrator, etc. Witness my hand and seal the day and date above written.

Edw. Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul (Acting).