Friday, February 4, 2005

Newest fraud?Boy Scouts?

Inflating numbers has become second nature for crooked auditors, cheating CEOs and deceitful politicians.

But Boy Scouts?

Sadly, the organization that preaches loyalty, trustworthiness, honesty and character development finds one of its state chapters suspected of criminal conduct.

The 22-county Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts has been targeted in a wide-ranging FBI investigation of fraud that could involve millions of dollars.

In the Scouts' case, top Alabama council executive Ronnie Holmes is suspected of creating counterfeit Scout troops with nonexistent members, then using bloated numbers to jack up contribution requests to charities. In one phony troop, all members were named Doe.

Central Alabama United Way has given $6 million in five years to the Scouts. In this time, Holmes paid himself as much as $221,369 per year, far more than other Scout executives.

Before Alabama, Holmes was in Texas, where he was suspected of monkeying with troop numbers.

Since the same scheme has popped up in other cities, the possible explanation for Scouts deception may be the same as in business—pressure to be successful at any cost.

If men entrusted with setting an example cannot work and live by the same code they expect their young charges to honor, what hope is there for creating new generations that enforce ethical standards?

The same can be asked of business and political figures who deceive and who unhappily represent pathetic examples of what young people expect when looking up to their elders.

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