Aircraft Production Investigation Pardons

Identifier

WWP20656

Description

Woodrow Wilson pardoned Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Mixter and Lieutenant-Colonel J. G. Vincent, whom the recent report on Aircraft Production showed to be technically guilty of a breach of statutes, because he believed in their innocence.

Publisher

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library

Language

English

Text

It was announced at the Executive Office today that the President had pardoned Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Mixter and Lieutenant-Colonel J. G. Vincent, whom the recent report on Aircraft Production showed to be technically guilty of a breach of statutes, because he entirely concurs in the views of the Attorney General with regard to these two cases. He believes that the two gentlemen concerned were entirely innocent of any improper or selfish intention, that their guilt was only technical, and that their services to the Government, which have been of the highest value and of a most disinterested sort, deserve the most cordial recognition.

–OoO–

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Washington, DC,

The President,
The White House.

My dear Mr. President:

In the report submitted to me by Hon. Charles E. Hughes at the conclusion of the aircraft investigation, Lieutenant-Colonel J. G. Vincent was one of three officers found to have transacted business for the Government contrary to the prohibition contained in section 41 of the Criminal Code and against whom prosecutions were recommended. In transmitting the report to you, I said:

"I agree with Judge Hughes' conclusion that Lieutenant- Colonel Vincent violated section 41 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits any person, directly or indirectly interested in the pecuniary profits of contacts of corporation, from acting as an officer or agent of the United States for the transaction of business with such corporation.   I further agree with Judge Hughes that the evidence does not afford ground for the conclusion that the Government was defrauded, or that there was any intent to defraud on the part of any of the parties concerned, or that the services rendered were not worth the amount paid therefor, or that the estimates of the outlay of the Packard Company were not fair estimates."

While there was a violation of the statute, I do not think the ends of justice require that Colonel Vincent be prosecuted.

Colonel Vincent was one of the designers of the Liberty motor. At that time he was not in the employ of the Government, but was vice-president of the Packard Motor Car Company. When the motor had been designed, the Packard Company tendered Mr. Vincent and its engineering staff and facilities for such service as might be necessary to test out and develop the design for production. The authorities authorized Mr. Vincent to build the required number of models and experimental motors, and he directed his company to do the work under his supervision. Later, during the progress of the work, he was commissioned in the Signal Corps, resigning as an officer of the Packard Company but retaining the ownership of his stock. His offense is that he acted for the Government in connection with settling the compensation to be paid the Packard Company for this work. There is no evidence that he did not act in entire good faith or that any advantage was taken of the Government.

The production of the Liberty motor was one of the great achievements in connection with the war. Colonel Vincent rendered invaluable services in designing and perfecting it.

In view of all the circumstances, I recommend that a full and complete pardon be granted for the offense, as I believe it was unwittingly committed.

Respectfully,
TW GREGORY
Attorney General.

(Second page)
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Washington, DC

To the President,
The White House.

My dear Mr. President:

The report made by Hon. Charles E. Hughes to me at the conclusion of the aircraft investigation shows that Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Mixter acted for the Government in supervising inspection and production at the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation while he owned 25 shares of the preferred stock of that company of the par value of $2500. I concurred with Judge Hughes in his conclusion that this was a violation of section 41 of the Criminal Code.

Lieutenant Colonel Mixter testified that he had formerly owned a small amount of both common and preferred stock in the company referred to; that at the time he was commissioned he had sold the common stock and overlooked the fact that he still owned the preferred. There is nothing in the evidence warranting the conclusion that Lieutenant Colonel Mixter did not act in entire good faith in the transaction referred to, or indicating that he was influenced by his ownership of this preferred stock, which paid a fixed dividend.

Lieutenant Colonel Mixter has performed efficient service for the Government and at a substantial sacrifice. I believe that the offense was unwittingly committed and recommend that he be granted a pardon.

Respectfully,
TW GREGORY
Attorney General.

****

Original Format

Miscellaneous

Files

D30272.pdf

Tags

Citation

Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Aircraft Production Investigation Pardons,” 1918 December 3, WWP20656, Woodrow Wilson Press Statements, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.