San Gabriel Valley : AGENCY INVESTIGATED

The Department of Economic Opportunity on Wednesday began an on-site investigation into a Pasadena anti-poverty agency, a department spokeswoman said.

Foothill Area Community Services, a nonprofit organization that helps the poor, elderly and disabled in the San Gabriel Valley, has been the target of investigations by Pasadena police and the FBI for possible financial irregularities since September, when police confiscated documents and computers from the agency's headquarters and the home of Executive Director Emmell Beech, said Cmdr. Donn Burwell of the Pasadena Police Department.

The police are looking for evidence of financial misuse by the agency, Burwell said. As yet, the investigation is still pending and there are no suspects, he said.

Unrelated to the investigation, the department announced that it will cut more than $500,000 in federal grants to the agency because of a shortage in federal funding, said Cheryl Goble, a department spokeswoman. An additional $84,000 is still expected to go to the agency next year, pending the outcome of the investigation, Goble said.

The loss of the department's grant will mean a significant reduction in funding for a program that provides low-income families with financial help for their utility bills, Goble said.

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