CINCINNATI (AP) — The former national chairman of an Atlanta-based civil rights organization was indicted Wednesday in Ohio on 51 charges that include grand theft, forgery and tampering with government records.
The Rev. Raleigh Trammell, 73, was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury in Dayton, where he lives and also headed a local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Trammell was indicted on one count of grand theft and 25 counts each of forgery and tampering with government records.
The alleged crimes occurred from 2005 to 2010 and involve the local chapter's meal delivery program. The charges involve meals that the county paid Trammell for and that were not delivered, according to prosecutor's spokesman Greg Flannagan.
Montgomery County government officials asked the prosecutor's office in March to investigate the Home Delivered Meals program operated by Trammell and the SCLC and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Flannagan said. Trammell, on behalf of those organizations, entered into contracts with Montgomery County Job and Family Services to deliver nutritious meals to low-income senior citizens.
"This defendant abused his position of trust and hid behind his title and position in order to perpetrate these crimes," Prosecutor Mathias Heck Jr. said in a statement. "Not only did he steal taxpayer money, but he denied meals as promised to elderly and frail citizens in our community."
The local SCLC and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance lost all of their county funding as a result of the actions, Flannagan said.
A warrant was issued Wednesday for Trammell's arrest. Numbers were not immediately available for Trammell, the Dayton branch of the SCLC or the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. A message was left Wednesday at the office of the national SCLC in Atlanta.
Trammell lost his leadership positions at the local and national SCLC levels last year after a dispute among factions at the national level.
The SCLC was co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957 and was a leading voice in the civil rights movement and the struggle for racial equality. The organization has lost members and prominence in the decades since King's death in 1968 and has faced financial difficulty in recent years.
Infighting has compounded the SCLC's woes and landed the group in court last year as a judge had to decide control of the organization.
Associated Press Writer Errin Haines in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference: http://www.sclcnational.org
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