A Salvation Army spokesman said the organization expects indictments of mid-level officers soon for allegedly receiving illegal kickbacks from a Philadelphia second-hand clothing dealer.
"We have been advised that there will be new subpoenas, and possibly indictments, issued within the next 60 to 90 days," said William J. Moss, general counsel for the Salvation Army.
A federal investigation has been under way for two years into allegations that from 1970 to May 1983 the Dumont Export Co. improperly paid Salvation Army officers in exchange for getting a supply of used clothing for shipment overseas.
Sources said that five to 11 mid-level Salvation Army officers are targets of the investigation. Moss said, "There is no possibility, in my judgment, no possibility at all" that top Salvation Army officials face indictment.
Earlier this week, a U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Postal Service investigation led to the filing of criminal conspiracy and mail fraud charges against Dumont and its two owners, Harry and Jerald Usatch, in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. The Usatch brothers have declined comment.
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Paterson, N.J., are among at least 12 Salvation Army centers that dealt with Dumont, according to the Salvation Army.
The Washington centers are not believed to be involved in the alleged kickback scheme.
According to Moss, some 60 Salvation Army officers and employes have been subpoenaed, but none have been called to testify.
Moss said that Salvation Army officers at the lieutenant colonel rank were subpoenaed, but were assured they were not targets of the probe.
Moss said the value of the improperly purchased clothes could total close to a million dollars.
Investigators have said some Salvation Army officers who received the payments gave them back to charity, but others kept the money. Dumont reportedly shipped the clothing it received from the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations to countries such as Zaire, Nigeria, Italy and France.
Officials have said that only Salvation Army officers are under investigation for taking kickbacks.
The Salvation Army, which says it has been conducting its own internal investigation over the last two years, asserted that "there is no conspiracy" of Salvation Army officers in the alleged kickback scheme.
The problem centers on the Salvation Army's 113 "adult rehabilitation" centers across the country.
These centers, which offer refuge and spiritual guidance to homeless men and women, also each operate from two to six "thrift shops" that collect and sell a variety of used household goods, including clothes and fabrics.
Moss estimated the shops generate roughly $100 million a year in revenue, with an undetermined amount coming from the sale of used clothes.
It is difficult to determine the revenue from "rag" sales -- the term for used clothes in the garment trade -- because they are a very price-sensitive commodity. Two years ago, rags sold for about 10 cents a pound. Today, they sell for close to 2 cents a pound.
There are 40 centers in the organization's Eastern Territory, the area where Dumont did most of its purchasing, according to the Salvation Army. "Those centers are selling about $3 million in rags a year," Moss said.
According to an Eastern Territory Salvation Army official, Dumont never accounted for more than 5 percent of the rag sales in the territory.
That would place Dumont purchases of Salvation Army rags at roughly $150,000 a year. Because of price fluctuations, however, the figure could have been much higher at times during the 13-year period the kickbacks allegedly occurred.