Eugene B. Casey – Government Official & Philanthropist

From a contemporary press report:

Eugene B. Casey, a Maryland philanthropist and builder who served the Franklin Roosevelt administration as farm policy adviser, died Tuesday, July 29, 1986. He was 82.  Casey died at his home in Potomac, Maryland.

Casey was director of the Farm Credit Admininstration from 1940 to 1941 and also served as an agricultural adviser to the Roosevelt White House. In the 1950s and 1960s, he built homes in the Rockville-Gaithersburg, Maryland area of suburban Washington, D.C.

A philanthropist, he provided the government with the property and buildings for use in the research that led to the development of the Salk polio vaccine. He also financed the restoration of Red Hill, the last home and burial place of Revolutionary War figure Patrick Henry in Brookneal, Virginia.

Services are scheduled for Friday, with burial in Arlington National Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, 6 children and 11 grandchildren.

From a contemporary press report: 16 Jukly 2001

Montgomery County philanthropist Betty Brown Casey’s offer of $50 million to create an official residence for the District’s mayor has sparked much public discussion, but little has been said about her late husband – after whom the Casey Mansion will be named.

A splintered D.C. City Council formally accepted Casey’s offer June 5, along with her assurance that the Foxhall Road NW mansion’s costs will create no burden for D.C. taxpayers. However, Casey’s attorney and city officials say details of the deal still must be put on paper, and construction of the new home on the former Brady estate has not yet begun.

Meanwhile, the private Gaithersburg-based Eugene B. Casey Foundation, which is donating the money for the mayoral mansion, has not responded to repeated telephone inquiries about the background of the man whose name will be attached to the mayor’s official home.

According to a variety of published sources, native Washingtonian Eugene B. Casey’s checkered career saw him go from being a Gaithersburg farmer to gaining prominence as one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s top assistants and a wealthy landowner. But seldom mentioned anymore is his 1946  imprisonment after a felony conviction for tax evasion – and his 1951 presidential pardon from Harry S. Truman for that offense.

Old newspaper articles, including Casey’s 1986 obituaries, fill in some of the details of his life. Mrs. Casey’s attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan, would say little about Casey’s background when asked.

“Her husband was very wealthy in real estate and owned a lot of land in Maryland and out west,” Sullivan said.

According to his obituary in The Washington Post, Casey was one of the largest landowners in upper Montgomery County after World War II.

“Mr. Casey was one of several area investors who made fortunes in land dealings,” the obituary noted. By the mid-1940s he had acquired a $2.5 million fortune and owned six farms in Maryland. He donated 204 acres to the Maryland Sheriff’s Boys Club Ranch, a home for runaway boys. He also gave 530 acres of land near Seneca, Md., as a site for a juvenile delinquent center.

Also according to his obituary, during the 1950s and ’60s, Casey began developing low-cost housing in the Gaithersburg area, a city that awarded him the Outstanding Citizen Award in 1984 because of land donations to Montgomery County.

Casey started working when he was 10 years old by selling bread, according to an obituary published in The Washington Times after he died on July 29, 1986. His father, Michael B Casey, a heating and plumbing contractor, died in 1928. Rose
Casey, his mother, died in 1957 after a long illness.

He attended the District’s old Central High School, was on the newspaper staff and served as associate editor for the yearbook, “The Brecky.” He earned a letter in football in the 1921-1922 school year and managed the basketball team in 1922. He wrote high school and college sports stories for The Washington Post while he attended high school. He studied mechanical engineering at Penn State and studied law at Georgetown University, where he started the Casey  ngineering Co.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Casey as director of the Farm Credit Administration when he was 36 years old and he served there from 1940 to 1941. His annual salary was $6,500. At the same time he was also an agricultural adviser to the White House.

Casey ran into some problems with the IRS during that time frame. According to newspaper articles, the government claimed he didn’t report his total income between 1941 and 1943. Casey reported that his income for the three years was $81,210, but the government said his income was more than twice that amount, $171,780. He claimed innocence because his “affairs were in the hands of others,” said a newspaper obituary. A news story published in The Washington Star at the time reported that a bookkeeper testified to preparing Casey’s tax returns for those three years and admitted that he may have made mistakes
calculating Casey’s income. Casey allegedly deducted $400 in war damages and fire insurance on rental property, but the government claimed he never paid the war damages and the insurance should have been spread over three years.

A federal judge in Baltimore slapped him with a $30,000 fine, and Casey went to prison in 1946. He served five months of a six-month sentence for evading $70,384 in income taxes between 1941 and 1943. President Harry S. Truman pardoned him of the tax evasion in 1951.

Some would have Casey seen as a respected individual who worked for two presidents, but the transcript from a 1963 interview with Jonathan Daniels, who worked as press secretary to both Roosevelt and Truman, revealed that Casey was a sort of special assistant to the president with no real job.

Roosevelt hired him because Casey did fund raising for one of his presidential campaigns, Daniels asserted in a wide-ranging oral history interview for the Truman Library. Daniels described Casey as “a little wacky” and said some of the White House staff “referred to Casey as the ‘washroom rodent.’”

Daniels recalled during the interview that Casey had been fired from the  Roosevelt administration. He cited a 1943 memo from President Roosevelt that referred to the “General Casey impasse.” Daniels said that the impasse meant “how the hell are we going to get rid of the son-of-a-b—-.”

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