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Aid for Friends will not close

A local non-profit organization has been facing some tough times lately, after two federal embezzlement lawsuits and now a petit theft charge by former employees. But does that mean the organization is shutting down? Aid for Friends says not a chance.

However, the helping-homeless organization will no longer be a payee for those with Social Security benefits, affecting about 150 of their clients.

“We, as a board, (given the two criminal cases) had already been in the process of evaluating and determining whether or not we wanted to continue with the payee program,” said Board President and attorney for Aid for Friends, Scott Heide. He also said their homeless shelter and transitional housing programs have not been affected by the federal embezzlement cases.

“The homeless shelter is still up and running, our transitional programs are still up and running,” he emphasized.

He said Aid for Friends gets its funding through a variety of sources, like grants and donations from area donors. Heide said the payee program was an extra service that other local agencies can take over. He said that means Aid for Friends can focus on helping the homeless with transportation, job interviews and any possible health issues.

“These are the surrounding problems for homelessness,” Heide said. “We at Aid for Friends are ever vigilant in trying to provide greater services to eliminate homelessness as a problem in Pocatello.”

The most recent legal problems include former employee Mindi Etcheverry removing $2,400 from the organization to use for personal expenses. Heide stated $2,100 of that money was replaced immediately, however the case is still set for a pretrial hearing at the end of January.

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