Utah Liquor Agency Under Investigation

Utah Liquor Agency Under Investigation

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state is investigating allegations of misuse of funds at the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Richard Pearson, administrative services manager and a subject of the investigation, resigned effective June 30, DABC Chairman Nicholas Hale said. Pearson could not be reached for comment.

Frank Budd, one of the five liquor commissioners, told The Salt Lake Tribune, "My understanding is that it is more about poor accounting practices than misappropriation of funds," he said.

The state Bureau of Investigation opened the probe several weeks ago and could wrap it up next week, Department of Public Safety Lt. Doug McCleve told The Associated Press Thursday.

McCleve said the ABC was "cooperating in every way." Officials at Utah's liquor-control agency didn't return calls from the AP.

Investigators were tipped off to alleged financial wrongdoing at ABC by another government agency, McCleve said.

"We're looking at the day-to-day operations of ABC and how things work there," McCleve said. "In the course of the investigation, we may turn our focus on a particular person or practice."

He refused to elaborate on details that he said could compromise the investigation.

ABC director Kenneth Wynn's administrative assistant said Wynn was the only official at the agency who could answer questions about the probe, but that he wasn't available.

Wynn did not return two phone messages.

Rae Jordison, the ABC's top accountant, told the AP, "I can't respond" to questions about the probe. Jordison transferred the call to ABC operations manager Dennis Kellen, who did not return a phone message.

ABC legal counsel Earl Dorius also was unavailable.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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