DAYTON, Ohio – The former national chairman of an Atlanta-based civil rights organization turned himself in Friday to face charges including grand theft involving a meal program for low-income older people in southwest Ohio.
Civil rights leader the Rev. Raleigh Trammell declined comment as he was escorted by Montgomery County prosecutors. The former local president and national chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was indicted Wednesday on 51 charges — one count of grand theft and 25 counts each of forgery and tampering with government records. Last year, he denied misusing public funds.
Trammell, 73, surrendered one day after a nationwide arrest warrant was issued.
Trammell's attorney, Martin Pinales, did not immediately return calls for comment. An assistant at Pinales' Cincinnati office said he was out of town.
In light of the charges, the Dayton chapter of the group co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is urging public patience. Current chapter president Bishop Richard Cox said as the group remembers King this weekend, people should look at all that the group has accomplished in the fight for civil rights and the work it continues to do.
Cox also said he is praying for Trammell's family.
"I was saddened. It's not what we stand for," he said, adding that he nor the community should judge Trammell yet.
"But what you have to understand is that Rev. Trammell did some great works in this community and we have to let what happened play out in the courts," Cox told The Dayton Daily News.
The alleged crimes in 2005-2010 involve meals that the county paid Trammell for that weren't delivered, according to prosecutor's spokesman Greg Flannagan. The SCLC had a contract for delivery of nutritious meals to low-income senior citizens.
Trammell lost his leadership roles at the Dayton and national SCLC levels last year after a dispute among factions at the national level.
The SCLC began in 1957 and was a leading voice in the civil rights movement. The organization has lost members in the decades since King's death in 1968 and has faced financial difficulty and infighting in recent years.
Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com
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