Boy Scouts Investigation

An official with the Boy Scouts of America says the F-B-I is investigating whether the organization has inflated its membership numbers in north Alabama.

Randy Haines, vice chairman of the Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts, said a probe is underway but denied any wrongdoing. But another board member, Tom Willis, said the charges of discrepancies in membership numbers were not only accurate but widespread across the country. He said so-called ghost units are encouraged by the national organization's pressure on district leaders to keep increasing the number of scouting groups.

The United Way, which helps fund the Boy Scouts, also is familiar with the investigation. Scouting has asked for nearly 941,000 dollars from the charity for 2005.

Haines said the Boy Scouts are doing an internal audit. An FBI spokesman said the agency could neither confirm nor deny any investigation of the group.

The council serves about 50,000 youngsters in 22 counties in central and northern Alabama.