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Former foundation head working for tax-funded group

August 25, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The former head of a Martinsburg foundation being investigated for misuse of funds is working for a federally funded job training program in Hagerstown.

Greg Gamble has been working for the last 10 months as a vocational counselor for the Western Maryland Consortium, according to Consortium Executive Director Peter Thomas.

Gamble, 47, is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Martinsburg and the Berkeley County Prosecutor's Office amid allegations he misused funds at his Aurora Foundation Inc.

The foundation handled the financial affairs of those who were deemed mentally unfit to do so themselves. Many were Social Security recipients.

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Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said the case could be presented to a Berkeley County grand jury in October.

An estimated $200,000 in cash and property belonging to 33 of Aurora's former mental health clients in the Eastern Panhandle is missing and undetermined amounts of jewelry, furniture and other property remain unaccounted for, attorneys appointed to look into the matter by Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders have alleged.

Gamble, who has not attended any of the public hearings on the Aurora matter, is working full time at the Washington County District Court building in Hagerstown.

Gamble is one of eight job counselors with the Western Maryland Consortium, an agency that helps the unemployed find jobs, Thomas said.

The regional agency receives a small amount of state funds, Thomas said.

Gamble does not handle any agency funds in his work at the Consortium, Thomas said.

He would not comment on Gamble's salary.

The investigation of Aurora came to light in May, after Gamble had begun working at the consortium.

"What I know about the case is what I read in the newspaper," Thomas said.

Thomas said the case has not affected Gamble's status at the consortium "at this time."

Thomas said Wednesday that Gamble did not want to comment on the case. Gamble's attorney has said Gamble has agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Aurora had at least 148 clients who were unable to handle their own financial affairs and relied on the foundation to pay their rent and utility bills.

Questions about Aurora were raised in May by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, which alleged Gamble never filed asset inventories for 12 clients the agency had referred to Aurora.

The lack of asset inventories for those and other former Aurora clients has made it difficult for investigators to determine how much money people had turned over to the foundation.

Bank accounts held by Aurora are empty and the foundation has no assets on record, according to court records.

Aurora began accepting clients in 1995 but its charter was revoked for unspecified reasons in March 1998, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office in Charleston, W.Va.

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