OPINION OF THE COURT
BECKER, Circuit Judge.
Equity skimming is the practice of diverting revenues generated by mortgaged property in default to purposes other than property maintenance or mortgage payments. This case presents the question whether a federal criminal statute, 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(b) (1982), which proscribes equity skimming from federally-assisted multifamily housing projects, applies although the mortgagor did not receive an extension of time to cure the default or a modification of the mortgage terms. We hold that it does not, and we therefore will affirm the judgment of the district court
This criminal prosecution arose out of the financial difficulties of Golden Acres Apartments, an 88-unit apartment project built in 1973 and 1974 in Claymont, Delaware. The initial financing for the project included a HUD-insured mortgage of approximately $1.4 million. This mortgage went into default in May 1976, and in September 1976, the mortgage was assigned to HUD and thereafter was held by HUD under the provisions of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1713(g) (1982). The indictment alleges that from on or before February 1977, through December 1981, the appellees, Mario and Joseph Capano, owned all stock in Golden Acres, Inc., the developer and sponsor of the project.
The indictment further states, and it is uncontested by the parties, that from May, 1979, through December, 1981, the Capanos took more than $300,000 of rental income derived from Golden Acres and diverted it to themselves and other businesses they controlled. The indictment thus charges appellees, Mario B. Capano and Joseph L. Capano, with 110 substantive counts of equity skimming in violation of 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(b), and with one count of conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371 (1982). The indictment does not allege that the Capanos ever requested or received an extension of time to cure the default on the mortgage or a modification of the terms of the mortgage.
The district court dismissed the indictment for two reasons. First, it held that the criminal penalties of 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(b) apply only when a multifamily housing project is insured by HUD and held by a third party mortgagee, not when, as alleged in the indictment, the project is security for a mortgage that has been assigned to and is actually held by the Secretary. In the alternative, the court held that, by the terms of the statute, the criminal penalties apply only where the mortgagors had received an extension of time to cure a default or a modification of the terms of their mortgage. Because the indictment did not allege that the Capanos had ever received such an extension or modification, the district court dismissed the indictment for that additional and independent reason.
The United States brought the instant appeal from the dismissal, arguing that the district court's interpretation of 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(b) was incorrect, and that that subsection proscribes equity skimming by any mortgagor whose HUD-held or HUD-insured mortgage on a multifamily housing unit is in default regardless of whether he has received a modification or extension. We have appellate jurisdiction by virtue of 18 U.S.C. § 3731 (1982). Inasmuch as this undertaking involves solely a question of law, our scope of review is plenary. See Tustin v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 1055, 1060 (3d Cir.1984).
Because the district court had two independent reasons for its dismissal of the indictment, we will affirm the district court if we agree with either of its reasons. In the discussion that follows, we assume, without deciding, that the statute applies to mortgages held by HUD and mortgages for which HUD is an insurer.
A. Analysis of the Statute
Because 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(b) (hereinafter "subsection (b)") is opaque and convoluted, and because it refers back to 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(a) (hereinafter "subsection (a)"), we will set forth both subsections in full.
Subsection (a) states that the Secretary of HUD cannot extend or modify a mortgage on a multifamily housing unit
Subsection (b) provides for criminal sanctions against those who hold "property which is security for a mortgage described in subsection (a)" if the property holder violates "a regulation prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (a);" or, although he is exempt from subsection (a)'s regulations by virtue of the explicit escape clause, or is "not otherwise covered," by the subsection (a) regulations, engages in equity skimming.
It is undenied that the defendants equity skimmed. Therefore, the question in this case is what is meant by "mortgage described in subsection (a)." The question is difficult to answer, for subsection (a) does not describe any mortgages; rather, it places certain limitations on the extension or modification of defaulted mortgages on multi-family dwellings in which HUD has a financial interest.
Given the imprecision just referred to in the language of subsection (b), the "plain meaning" of the words of the statute does not direct a result. Thus, we must consider other aspects of the statute, in particular its structure. In this regard, two points are of special relevance. First, § 1715z-4 does not purport to deal with all aspects of the behavior of defaulted mortgagors but only with the extension or modification of defaulted mortgages. Section 1715z-4's title states explicitly that it concerns "[m]odifications in terms of insured mortgages." This suggests that subsection (b) is similarly limited to instances of mortgage modification or extension, otherwise
Second, subsection (a) does not come into play unless a mortgage extension or modification is at issue, for subsection (a) is exclusively concerned with these matters. As subsections (a) and (b) were part of the same legislative enactment and were clearly intended to be read together, it follows that subsection (b) should not have a significantly greater scope than subsection (a). This implies that the Capanos' interpretation of subsection (b) is more convincing, for under the government's interpretation, a person could be criminally liable for actions under subsection (b) even though the civil requirements of subsection (a) are inapplicable.
While we could rest on this statutory analysis, confident that the Capanos' reading of the statute, while not the only plausible reading, is nonetheless the better one, we turn now to the legislative history, for it supports that reading.
B. Legislative History
Section 1715z-4 was enacted as § 302 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, Pub.L. 90-448, 82 Stat. 506. The provision generated no discussion on the floor of either house of Congress. The only evidence of congressional intent is the House Report. Fortunately, the Report is explicit on the point at issue here.
The Report's discussion of § 1715z-4 reads in its entirety as follows:
H.R.Rep. No. 1585, 90th Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1968 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 2873, 2906 (emphasis supplied). There is no indication or suggestion that the emphasized portion of the third paragraph was intended to be merely illustrative; to the contrary, its tone is definitive. It is thus a fair implication from that portion that subsection (b) was intended to prohibit equity skimming only when a defaulted mortgage had been extended, not when there had been no such extension.
Despite this evidence, the dissent argues that the broader language in the second quoted paragraph — "[the statute is] designed to discourage distribution of rental income of multifamily projects to stockholders of a mortgagor corporation or individual owners where such income should be used to meet mortgage payments" — should take precedence and guide our interpretation. Dissent at 134. We cannot agree. Although the second paragraph is broadly worded, the other three paragraphs are carefully circumscribed; they deal exclusively with mortgage extension or modification. To read the second paragraph literally, as the dissent does, would be contrary to the intention of Congress as expressed in the whole of the quoted section of the Committee Report and especially in the emphasized portion of the third quoted paragraph.
That the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has read the legislative history as have we strengthens our position. In a letter from John W. Kopecky, Acting Associate General Counsel, to William D. Ruckleshaus, Assistant Attorney General, dated December 4, 1969, the Secretary's counsel stated that "the legislative history indicates the [sic] the criminal penalties under Section 239(b) [subsection (b)] apply only to willful diversions during the period in which the time for curing the default has been extended or the mortgage is under modification." Although the Secretary's interpretation is not binding on this court, it is surely probative. See, e.g., United States v. Rutherford, 442 U.S. 544, 552, 99 S.Ct. 2470, 2475, 61 L.Ed.2d 68 (1979); Wilshire Oil Co. of Texas v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 668 F.2d 732, 735-36 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 457 U.S. 1132, 102 S.Ct. 2958, 73 L.Ed.2d 1349 (1982).
C. Principles for the Interpretation of Criminal Statutes
When construing statutes, courts must, of course, give effect to the will of Congress. We would be less than honest, however, if we did not admit that in some cases we cannot determine that will with certainty, and statutes are therefore sometimes left with ambiguity. It is well-settled that where a court's interpretative effort fails to eliminate ambiguity in the meaning of a criminal statute, the residual uncertainty will be resolved in favor of lenity. See, e.g., Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207, ___, 105 S.Ct. 3127, 3131-32, 87 L.Ed.2d 152 (1985); Liparota v. United States, 471 U.S. 419, ___, 105 S.Ct. 2084, 2087, 85 L.Ed.2d 434 (1985). See also Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55, 65, 100 S.Ct. 915, 920, 63 L.Ed.2d 198 (1980) (touchstone of lenity principle is statutory ambiguity); Smith v. Williams, 698 F.2d 611, 613 (3d Cir.1983); United States v. Marino, 682 F.2d 449, 454 & n. 4 (3d Cir.1982). Of course, the federal courts must not use this canon of statutory construction to defeat the congressional purpose in creating a federal crime. United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576, 586-87 & n. 10, 101 S.Ct. 2524, 2530-31 & n. 10, 69 L.Ed.2d 246 (1981). The rule "`comes into operation at the end of the process of construing what Congress has expressed, not at the beginning as an overriding consideration of being lenient to wrongdoers.'" Russello v. United States, 464 U.S. 16, 29, 104 S.Ct. 296, 303, 78 L.Ed.2d 17 (1983) (quoting Callanan v. United States, 364 U.S. 587, 596, 81 S.Ct. 321, 326, 5 L.Ed.2d 312 (1961)).
This rule does not stem from a societal compassion for potential criminals. Rather, the rule expresses the conviction that potential criminal defendants must be accorded fair notice of the proscribed conduct. See McBoyle v. United States, 283 U.S. 25, 27, 51 S.Ct. 340, 341, 75 L.Ed. 816 (1931) (Holmes, J.). It is further intended to ensure that Congress, not the courts, defines the scope of prohibited conduct. Dowling, supra, 105 S.Ct. at 3132 ("Due respect for the prerogative of Congress in defining federal crimes prompts restraint in this area, where we typically find a narrow interpretation appropriate."). Cf. Garcia v. United States, 469 U.S. 70, ___, 105 S.Ct. 479, 490, 83 L.Ed.2d 472 (1984) (Stevens, J., dissenting) ("Every increase in the power of the federal prosecutor moves us a step closer to a national police force with its attendant threats to individual liberty. For that reason, I believe we have a special obligation to make
Both purposes underlying the rule of lenity are served here by our narrow construction of subsection (b). We have argued above that the narrow construction is the more plausible one, supported by the statutory language and context. Even those who disagree must admit that the broader interpretation is not clearly correct, and that subsection (b)'s ambit is ambiguous and open to debate. The Capanos, and any others in their position, were thus without clear guidance on the contours of the criminal law. Moreover, our interpretation leaves it for the Congress, not the courts, to extend the federal criminal sanction. This is as it should be, for Congress is the appropriate forum for the extension of the criminal law. See Garcia, supra, (Stevens, J., dissenting). The rule of lenity thus directs us to construe the statute in the Capanos' favor.
D. The Logic of the Limitation
The government's final argument is that limiting subsection (b) to extensions and modifications of defaulted mortgages is simply illogical because equity skimming is as objectionable when there has been no extension or modification as when there have been such alterations. The dissent, too, takes up this line of argument. See Dissent at 132. The argument is unpersuasive, however; indeed, it suffers from illogic.
We concede that equity skimming is objectionable regardless of whether an extension or modification has been granted. Thus, the Capanos' conduct is nothing we condone.
Certainly Congress could have proscribed equity skimming on all multifamily mortgages over which federal jurisdiction might be exercised (it could have done so on all such mortgages period, for that matter), but that is of no consequence. We are concerned with what Congress did, not with what it might have done. Cf. Sitkin Smelting & Refining Co. v. FMC Corp., 575 F.2d 440, 447 (3d Cir.1978); Seaboard Supply Co. v. Congoleum Corp., 770 F.2d 367, 368 (3d Cir.1985) ("Although the activity was reprehensible and probably violated state civil and criminal law, we agree that the scheme did not come within the scope of the antitrust laws."). It is not for the courts to create a crime where Congress has not.
The structure of § 1715z-4 and its legislative history suggest that § 1715z-4(b) was not intended to proscribe equity skimming except in those multifamily mortgages in which HUD had a financial interest and which had received some form of extension or modification. We note that those disagreeing with our assessment of the structure and legislative history of § 1715z-4 would have to admit, at the very least, that whether § 1715z-4(b) does extend to situations where the mortgagor has not received an extension or modification is highly ambiguous. In such cases, the lenity principle dictates that we find in favor of the more restrictive reading of § 1715z-4(b).
The judgment of the district court will be affirmed.
GARTH, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
I dissent because I believe that the unambiguous language of 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4 criminalizes all equity skimming
Subsection (a) of § 1715z-4 provides that the Secretary of HUD may not extend a mortgagee's time for curing a mortgage default, nor may he modify the terms of a mortgage, unless the Secretary's action complies with regulations prescribed by him. The prescribed regulations require that the mortgagor hold in trust all monies generated by the mortgaged property which are not needed in the operation of the property. Thus, subsection 1715z-4(a) and the regulations enacted in accordance therewith unequivocally proscribe the practice of skimming from the equity of mortgaged property.
Subsection (b) of § 1715z-4 establishes criminal penalties for owners of such property who are guilty of equity skimming. Owners who willfully and knowingly use funds derived from the property in violation of subsection (a) and who are convicted of equity skimming may be fined or imprisoned for not more than three years or both. The text of the relevant portions of subsection (a), with its regulations, and the text of subsection (b) are reproduced as an Appendix to this opinion.
The Capanos do not dispute that the indictment sets forth the "willful and knowing" diversion of rents that should have been used to pay mortgage obligations, but that were instead used to pay off construction loans. Section 1715z-4(b)(2)(a) provides that the owner of property whose mortgage is or was insured by HUD, even though he is either exempt from the requirements of the regulations issued under subsection (a) of that section or is "not otherwise covered" by those regulations, is nevertheless subject to criminal penalties if he willingly and knowingly skims equity. (See Appendix for text of § 1715z-4(b)(2)(a).)
There is no dispute in this case that the Capano mortgage is "not otherwise covered" by the regulations issued under subsection (a). Those regulations cover only mortgages for which an extension of time or a modification has been granted. The Capano mortgage is not such a mortgage, but rather is a mortgage in default for which no extension or modification was ever requested. By the clear language of the statute, any mortgage under subsection (a), whether such mortgage is exempted by a determination of the Secretary or whether it is "not otherwise covered" because no
Thus, having demonstrated that the statute covers all mortgages described in subsection (a), be they exempt or not, be they covered or not covered by regulation, be they in default or be they extended or modified, we need only determine whether the Capano mortgage is "a mortgage described in subsection (a)" as that phrase is used in subsection (b), § 1715z-4(b)(2).
Under the majority's present analysis, it is clear that the criminal penalties of subsection (b) are triggered only when the mortgagor receives an extension of time to cure his default or a modification of the terms of his mortgage. See maj. op. at 125. Thus, the majority implicitly holds that subsection (a) does not come into play, when the mortgagor defaults without requesting a modification or an extension of the mortgage. Nor does it come into play in the majority's view, when the mortgagor has requested a modification or an extension and has been denied.
According to the majority, only a mortgage that has been extended or modified falls within the terms of subsection (b). Yet the plain language of subsection (a) in no way limits the description of a mortgage to those which have been extended or modified. In relevant part, as we have noted, subsection (a) reads: "The Secretary shall not consent to any request for an extension of the time for curing a default under any mortgage covering multifamily housing, as defined in the regulations of the Secretary." 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(a) (emphasis added).
As I have pointed out, it is clear that this statute includes within its definition of "mortgages" all HUD mortgages that are in default, whether or not a request for an extension of time or a modification of terms has ever been granted. In contrast, the majority opinion, which regards the granting of an extension or modification as the trigger for criminal liability, would subject the equity skimmer to criminal liability for skimming only when he has received an extension or modification, while it would allow the equity skimmer who never sought an extension or modification, or whose request for extension or modification was denied, to get off scot-free. There can be no logical reason for Congress to have preferred the equity skimmer who never applied for an extension or modification, or whose request for an extension or modification was denied, over the equity skimmer whose request is granted. Yet the majority opinion, without giving a reason therefor, and without explaining this
This interpretation of the statute would render superfluous, as best I can discern, the language of section 1715z-4(b)(2)(a) referring to "a mortgage not otherwise covered by such regulation." Under the majority's interpretation, only mortgagors who have received an extension or modification of their mortgages would be liable to criminal penalties. Since all such mortgagors are subject to the regulations of subsection (a), it is hard to imagine who might fit into the category of mortgagors liable to criminal penalties but "not otherwise covered" by the subsection (a) regulations.
The majority seeks to find meaning for the category of mortgages "not otherwise covered" by the regulations in the fact that, in its view, those regulations apply only to HUD-insured mortgages, not to HUD-held mortgages,
But the regulations nowhere state that they apply only to HUD-insured mortgages and not to HUD-held mortgages. Furthermore, under this interpretation, the criminal penalties of 1715z-4(b) would apply to those mortgagors whose mortgages were taken over by HUD after they had reached an agreement as to extension or modification, but not to similarly situated mortgagors who defaulted without seeking such an agreement. This distinction is arbitrary and illogical when viewed in terms of the purpose of the statute. Under this interpretation, Congress would have given equity skimmers the perverse incentive of avoiding all communication with HUD so that they could then escape criminal liability. Again, it is unclear to me why Congress should have wished to subject the equity skimmer to criminal penalties when he receives an extension or modification of the terms of his mortgage, while exculpating the equity skimmer who neither requests nor is granted an extension or modification. Again, the majority has failed to explain what could possibly have motivated Congress to make such an illogical distinction.
The majority can make sense of the language of section 1715z-4(b)(2) only by creating artificial distinctions which Congress did not see fit to make and which bear no relation to Congress's purpose in enacting this provision, namely the prevention of equity skimming from property in which HUD has a financial interest as mortgage insurer or as mortgagee. Only if it is recognized that criminal penalties apply to equity skimming from all HUD mortgages, whether or not there has been a request for extension or modification, whether or not such request has been granted, and whether they are HUD-held or HUD-insured,
Because it is obvious that the focus of the statutory provision is on equity skimming and its prevention rather than on requests for modification of HUD mortgages, I believe that section 1715z-4 makes criminal the diversion of rental income prior to payment of the obligations of a defaulted mortgage insured or held by HUD, and that the indictment therefore adequately states a charge against the Capanos whether or not they requested an extension or modification.
According to the Supreme Court,
Consumer Product Safety Commission v. GTE Sylvania, 447 U.S. 102, 108, 100 S.Ct. 2051, 2056, 64 L.Ed.2d 766 (1980).
The majority points to no expression of a legislative intent which would even intimate that section 1715z-4 penalties could not be assessed against mortgagors of any defaulted HUD-insured mortgage. Rather the majority opinion relies on the lack of an affirmative statement of legislative intent, on an equivocal and outdated letter from HUD's general counsel that is not entitled to our deference, and on an interpretation, which I believe to be unsupportable, of the scope of the literal language of the statute in order to support its refusal to apply the statute by its terms.
I have discussed earlier in this opinion the plain meaning of the statute, pointing out that it obviously applies to all HUD mortgages, and that it proscribes skimming equity from any property that is security for a defaulted mortgage that is or has been insured by HUD.
The only other court of appeals decision interpreting this statute does not even deign to discuss the identifying characteristics of extension or modification that the majority claims define a subsection (a) mortgage. The Fourth Circuit, in United States v. Norris, 749 F.2d 1116 (4th Cir.1984), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 105 S.Ct. 2139, 85 L.Ed.2d 496 (1985), construed the very section under consideration here. That court held that a mortgagor whose mortgage was assigned to HUD, and who continued in default, was properly indicted and convicted for a violation of section 1715z-4(b). The Fourth Circuit stated:
United States v. Norris, 749 F.2d at 1120-21.
Thus, Norris sustained the conviction of a defendant charged under section 1715z-4(b) where no extension or modification of the HUD mortgage was ever sought or obtained. Norris reached its conclusion as I do: the statute under which the Norris defendants were charged and under which Capano was charged is unambiguous and clear. In my opinion, there is no need to resort to strained interpretations in order to avoid the explicit command of Congress. The statute provides penalties for skimming involving mortgages covering multi-family housing. 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4. No further inquiry is necessary as to whether a request for extension or modification was or was not made. If skimming is charged under the statute, the indictment is sufficient and cannot be dismissed, regardless of whether a request for extension has been made, denied or granted.
As I have earlier observed, the majority concludes that Congress intended to subject the mortgagor to criminal penalties only if that mortgagor is granted an extension or modification. The legislative history which is reproduced in the majority opinion concededly deals with such a situation, but the congressional intent revealed by that history is by no means so strictly limited. The crux of that history, I believe, is to be found in the purpose portion of the House Report. There, it is stated:
H.R.Rep. No. 1585, 90th Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1968 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 2906. The other sections of the Report and the portions on which the majority rely are no more than explanations of how the purpose of the new provisions may be implemented. Under GTE Sylvania, 447 U.S. 102, 100 S.Ct. 2051, 64 L.Ed.2d 766, only an expression of contrary legislative intent avoids the unambiguous terms of a statute. Here, the terms of the statute speak loud and clear, and the legislative history, far from contradicting these terms, support them.
This court should not embrace an interpretation of legislative intent that leads to an absurd or inconsistent result when a consistent interpretation is readily apparent. The legislative intent, as described in the House Report, was to provide HUD with a more effective means of protecting its financial stake in all cases where there is a temptation for the mortgagor to divert rental income to private uses. This express intent accords precisely with the literal terms of section 1715z-4. Under these circumstances, I do not believe it is appropriate for us to displace the Congress's policies with our own.
The majority also supports its refusal to apply section 1715z-4 in accordance with
Finally, the majority relies on a 1969 letter from John W. Kopecky, Acting Associate General Counsel of HUD, to William D. Ruckelshaus, Assistant Attorney General. As the majority is forced to acknowledge, however, this letter is equivocal at best. In fact, Kopecky's letter admits that "the clause [in section 1715z-4(b)(2) that reads] `or is not otherwise covered by such regulation' might be construed to cover any diversion under a project mortgage after default." Joint appendix at A-56. While finding the initial portion of Kopecky's letter to be "probative" and entitled to serious consideration, the majority declines to find the concluding portion of Kopecky's letter, which is unfavorable to the majority's argument, to be either probative or entitled to consideration. Compare maj. op. at 127-28 n. 7 with id. at 128 n. 8. I am perplexed as to why selected segments of the same document are characterized so differently.
In any case, this opinion letter does not constitute the sort of agency interpretation entitled to deference — especially given the literal terms of the statute and the position taken by HUD in supporting this prosecution. See Garcia v. United States, 469 U.S. 70, 105 S.Ct. 479, 484-85, 83 L.Ed.2d 472 (1984).
The majority goes on to hold that, even if its statutory arguments are not accepted, a dismissal of the indictment would still be required because "potential criminal defendants must be accorded fair notice of the proscribed conduct." Maj. op. at 128.
In a case where the defendants have concededly diverted rental payments from Golden Acres to their own use while the mortgage was in default, I find it difficult to believe that they were unaware that such conduct was proscribed. Certainly had the Capanos renegotiated their mortgage with HUD such an argument would be given short shrift. They did not do so, but nevertheless continued to skim equity from the property that was now the security for a defaulted mortgage held by HUD itself. Surely, their mere failure to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage should not insulate them from criminal penalties. As I have earlier argued, a plain reading of the statute would alert any lay person, even one without the business sophistication of the Capanos, to the fact that penalties would be imposed on any owner who used the Golden Acres revenues for personal benefit rather than to discharge the owner's mortgage obligations.
Because I believe that section 1715z-4 of the statute clearly criminalizes equity skimming from property that is security for a HUD mortgage regardless of whether or not an extension or a modification of the mortgage has been sought, granted, or denied, I would reverse the judgment of the
Subsection (a) of section 1715z-4 provides, in pertinent part:
12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(a).
Section 1715z-4(b) establishes criminal penalties for:
12 U.S.C. § 1715z-4(b).
The regulations issued under subsection (a) read as follows:
24 C.F.R. § 207.256b (1985).
Dissent at 132.
That this is incorrect is evident from a brief inspection of the regulations HUD has issued pursuant to subsection (a), 24 C.F.R. § 207.256(b) (1985). The regulations state that a defaulted mortgagor cannot receive an extension or modification of his mortgage unless he agrees to hold in trust all monies generated by the mortgaged property that are not needed in the operation of the property. Id. The regulations also provide for an exemption decision by the Commissioner of the FHA. Id. Two facts about the regulations are particularly important for present purposes: first, that the regulations distinguish between the Commissioner of the FHA and the mortgagee, implying that they are not one in the same; second, that the regulations fall under the subtitle "Rights and Duties of Mortgagee under the Contract of Insurance." It is a fair inference from these facts that the regulations apply only to HUD-insured mortgages, not HUD-held ones. Since HUD-held mortgages are not specifically exempted from the regulations, however, it must be that they belong to the class of mortgages "not otherwise covered" by the regulations.
We do not deny that HUD can change its mind. Nor do we abdicate to HUD our responsibility to interpret the law and weigh the legislative history. We simply believe that an official, interpretive letter from HUD, contemporaneous with the passage of the legislation in question, that was presumably not motivated by any of the strategic or tactical concerns that might underlie a stipulation between parties during the course of a prosecution, is probative of the meaning of that legislation, and is therefore entitled to our most serious consideration. Garcia neither holds nor suggests anything to the contrary.
The Capanos' rendition of the background to this case is not part of the record at this stage of the litigation, and accordingly we do not rely on it in deciding the case.
H.R.Rep. No. 1585, 90th Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1968 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 2906.