The Washington Post had an article this week profiling Sidney Rocke, Chief Counsel of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and
Printing. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) routinely redeems badly damaged U.S. currency, providing reimbursement of more than $30 million a year on
some 30,000 claims.
Periodically, criminal elements have attempted to collect payments for large sums of counterfeit or intentionally mutilated currency by taking
advantage of a quirk in the law that required the government, if it suspected fraud and denied reimbursement, to go to court and prove the damaged
money was phony.
BEP Chief Counsel Sidney Rocke advised changing the agency’s regulations to place the burden of proof on the suspected swindlers, and drafted
regulations requiring them to convince a judge that their mutilated or counterfeit money is real–an action few if any will undertake.
“I revised the regulations to deter this kind of conduct and to make sure that if it does occur, we can deal with it more effectively,” said
Rocke. “The change makes the legal terrain much easier in our fight against fraud.”
Rochelle Granat, an assistant general counsel at the Department of the Treasury said, “Sid was the force behind the mutilated currency regulations
to protect the government and prevent this type of fraud. He is definitely a change agent and looks at issues in ways to make things better.”
Rocke’s work on such regulatory matters is just one small part of his job, which entails providing legal advice and counsel on a wide range of
issues, for an agency that prints billions of dollars a year in U.S. currency and has a workforce that includes blue-collar employees, security
specialists, acquisitions personnel, chemists, engineers and its own police force.
On any given day, Rocke and his staff in Washington and Fort Worth, Tex., may be dealing with lawsuits against the agency from those seeking to
remove “In God We Trust’ from the currency to a variety of personnel matters involving employees in 19 separate labor bargaining units.
Rocke provides legal advice regarding contracts with suppliers of sophisticated machinery and the paper and chemicals used to make the currency.
He handles Freedom of Information Act requests, real estate questions and matters relating to BEP’s internal police force and printing facilities,
and he confers with the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies on criminal investigations.
Recently, he has been helping BEP comply with a court order to provide meaningful access to U.S. currency for the blind and visually impaired. BEP
has been seeking to institute multiple accommodations, including distribution of digital currency readers, the addition of tactile features and large
high-contrast numerals. The agency has also developed a free app called EyeNote® that can turn any iPhone into a digital reader.
Rocke said the task has not been simple, due to disagreements among the affected groups about the kind of changes that should be instituted and
because of technical impediments and manufacturing issues involved in changing the currency. He pointed out, for example, that altering the currency
to help the blind, if not done properly, can make it impossible for cash machines to accurately read and calculate the paper notes.
“What I have done is translate the practical concerns into legal words, ensuring that we are complying with the court order, demonstrating our
commitment to the advocates and making sure we are meeting our technical specifications and security needs,” said Rocke.
To read the complete article, see:
Attorney helps protect U.S. currency from counterfeiters
Wayne Homren, Editor
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