In the world of politics endorsements make nominees the official sanctioned candidates for their political parties. Other candidates can run for an office in a primary election but they are not official unless they can defeat the Party's officially endorsed nominee.

Endorsement is also used in the world of banking. When money in the form of bank notes or checks is transferred from one entity to another the person accepting the cash has an obligation to verify the authenticity of the bearer of the money. For pure cash this is not necessary but the identity of person cashing or depositing a check is supposed to be verified after which the check casher's signature is affixed to the check.

Don Boyd began trying to clear his name immediately after his release from prison. He had been accused of embezzling $30,000. This is not what he was ultimately charged with or convicted of but it helped instigate an FBI investigation of his Small Business Center (Northern Minnesota Small Business Development Center). 

Because his bosses had taken control of his finances four years earlier he had not been allowed to see the books for his center which was the focus of the FBI's investigation. From his prison cell Don Boyd began to suspect that the Center had been double billed up to the time the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it would audit the Center in 1975. 

After his release he requested permission to go through the monthly bank statements for 1974 from the bank which had handled the small business center's account. A friendly executive who had taken over from one the bank had fired gave him permission and for several weeks Don thumbed through thousands of bank statements to find those of his small business center. Before he had completely finished thumbing through the statements someone told the bank executive that enough was enough. Don Boyd should be asked to leave. Even though he hadn't finished the entire year's statements he had found about half of the statements for the small business center for 1974. The other half was unaccounted for, either because Don hadn't found them yet or because they were simply gone. 

Don then went to St. Paul and found a clerk who had access to the State's records of disbursements for 1974. He wined and dined her, told her of his plight, and found an ally willing to go through the state's micro filch files of warrants for the missing months.

She then gave Don photocopies of two checks made out to  the NMSBDC from the months where no bank record existed. One check was for $15,000 the other was for $10,000. 

There was something very peculiar about both checks. Right under the warning which said: 

"When cashing this check for the individual payee you should require full identification and endorsement in your presence as claims against endorsers may otherwise result."

Contrary to this warning whoever cashed these checks at the bank had not bothered to have the checks endorsed.

Front side of the $10,000 check

Back side of the $10,000 check

These two checks which were deposited in the Small Business Center's account showed up just before the Commerce Department's audit. They accounted for all but $5,000 of the money it had been alleged that Don had stolen.

Part of the missing $5,000 had been taken care of with the cash deposit of $3,000 leaving a suspiciously even $2,000 shortfall in the Center's account. However, at the trial a mystery auditor told the court that only a small amount was missing from the Center's account amounting to something in the neighborhood of $367.00. More on this later.

The FBI didn't discover these mysterious unendorsed checks Don Boyd did. Whatever the FBI agents made of the Small Business Center's accounting they didn't bother to charge Boyd with embezzlement because they found no evidence of it despite its having been the allegation that kicked off the investigation.

Don asked me after showing me these two checks along with many other interesting pieces of evidence whether I still thought his story sounded cockamamie. I told him that even before the evidence his story had the ring of truth to it. Of course, these checks don't hurt his case with me.