Thu, Jan 27, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Boy Scouts must `be prepared' for FBI investigation

AP , BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

Boy Scout volunteer Tom Willis knew something was wrong when he saw that 20 youngsters on the list for a scouting program all had the same last name: Doe.

Willis said it appeared someone was listing fake members to boost enrollment, perhaps to bring in more funding from agencies like the United Way or to make paid Boy Scout recruiters look better.

"It was just so blatant. They didn't even try to make up names," said Willis, a dentist from Decatur and a former Eagle Scout who serves on the board of the Greater Alabama Boy Scout Council, which runs scouting programs in northeastern Alabama.

Now the FBI is investigating whether the council padded its membership rolls. It is just the latest investigation around the country into whether the Boy Scouts have inflated their numbers.

The FBI refused to comment. The council said on its Web site early this month that Scout officials were cooperating with investigators and conducting an internal audit.

"Let me assure you that your executive committee considers these allegations to be very serious and is taking necessary and appropriate action," said council board chairman Randy Haines, a banking executive.

Greg Shields, a spokesman at the Boy Scouts' national office in Irving, Texas, said the organization has numerous policies meant to ensure the accuracy of its membership rolls.

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