Skip to comments.Panel Looking Into Boy Scout Roster Inflation
Posted on 01/05/2003 8:12:15 PM PST by chance33_98
Panel Looking Into Boy Scout Roster Inflation
Scouting Officials Deny Wrong-Doing
UPDATED: 2:19 p.m. CST January 5, 2003
DALLAS -- Almost three years after federal agents raided the offices of the Boy Scouts of America's large Dallas franchise, a federal grand jury is examining evidence and hearing testimony from government witnesses.
The raid came after whistle-blower information that to boost charitable donations some of the organization's salaried recruiters -- with their boss' knowledge -- fraudulently inflated membership rosters for a minority scout program.
Scouting officials have repeatedly denied criminal wrongdoing. They have said faulty membership accounting procedures led to some irregularities and have since been changed.
Past and present scout employees and volunteers said at the time of the April 7, 2000, raid that senior scout executives ignored repeated complaints that long-expired "ghost troops" padded membership rolls by as much as 30 percent, mostly in an inner-city program geared to serve poor minority children.
They said ranking Circle 10 executives, under pressure from the national headquarters in Irving, pressured them to keep the expired troops to continue showing membership growth each year. The numbers were then used to justify higher financing requests from parents and from major charitable organizations, such as the United Way.
In 2000, the Scouts' Circle 10 franchise in Dallas was considered the fifth-largest of 324 scout franchises nationwide, serving 70,000 North Texas children.
An attorney for the organization told The Dallas Morning News in Sunday editions that the grand jury has made contact, and that Circle 10 responded to its requests in an appropriate and timely manner.
"We're not in a position to discuss what's happening," Circle Ten's attorney, Bob Davis, told the newspaper.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment, citing federal laws that forbid disclosing the activities of grand juries.
A former Circle 10 scout recruiter and one of the original whistle-blowers whose testimony the government has requested told the newspaper that authorities who contacted him recently said they were working to obtain criminal charges.
Dale Draper, now a volunteer scoutmaster working as a commercial drafter near Salt Lake City, declined to describe other details of his discussions with government authorities.
"I'm glad to hear it because it needs to be cleaned up for the good of the scouts and for the good of those who want the Scouting organization to operate cleanly and honestly," Draper said. "It's been so long, I feel like some people may think they've gotten away with it."
In the raid 32 months ago, U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigators seized boxes of documents and computer hard drive data from the Circle 10 headquarters.
A review of some Circle 10 rosters from 1999 and 2000 found that several troops listed as active had never formed, in some cases years after recruiters came to south Dallas schools and gathered the names of prospective members.
One troop had not existed for 12 years, while some children listed in membership rosters had grown up and had children of their own. The members of one expired scout troop were shown as living at the address of an apartment complex that had been bulldozed years earlier.
Internal documents show the organization purged 25 percent of its membership rolls after the federal investigation began.