Early this month, national officials of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference requested criminal investigations by authorities in Georgia and Alabama, alleging embezzlement from the civil rights organization by Dayton’s Rev. Raleigh Trammell, the national board chairman, and SCLC Treasurer Spiver Gordon.
Today, Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized a computer and several boxes from the home of Reverend Raleigh Trammell, according to Dayton police.
Agents searched the Dayton offices of the SCLC looking for any information or evidence that could like Trammell to the alleged misuse of the group’s funds. They also raided the home of Trammell’s daughter Angela Goodwine, taking boxes and a computer from her house as well.
Trammell declined comment after the agents left his home. However, neighbor John Wilkins said: “After all of the accusations, I’m not surprised (by the searches). I feel sorry for the family that they have to go through this. Mrs. Trammell is a very nice person and I feel sorry that she has to go through this — she and her husband both.”
According to reports, the group’s treasurer, Spiver Gordon of Alabama, is also under investigation for involvement in the case.
U.S. Justice Department spokesman Fred Alverson said the searches are in relation to an investigation in to SCLC financial activities. No criminal charges have been filed.
“I don’t have any reaction to that nonsense,” said Trammell, chairman of the board of SCLC’s Dayton chapter. “I have nothing to do with the finances of the organization.”
He said the SCLC finance committee is investigating the allegations.
“I’m sure when they make their report it will clearly exonerate me. Until then I’m just prepared to say it’s a bunch of hogwash,” said Trammell, who also is executive director of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance in Dayton.
Trammell and Gordon are accused of unauthorized expenditure of SCLC funds in excess of $560,000 since 2006, according to a Jan. 29 letter to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. The letter was written by Dexter M. Wimbish, who is on temporary paid leave as SCLC general counsel.
“The embezzlement includes the use of a board account with Citizens Trust Bank (in Georgia) whereby personal expenses have been paid as well as loans to Raleigh Trammell,” Wimbish wrote in the letter.
“As these persons have been reinstated, there is a fear they will continue to mismanage funds and destroy or alter records to cover up their theft and conversion.”
According to an internal review of the SCLC national board account obtained by the Dayton Daily News in a report issued earlier this month, SCLC officials questioned payments of more than $27,000 to Trammell and the Dayton SCLC chapter he leads between 2006 and 2009, including two wire transfers to a Trammell-controlled National City Bank account.
“I’ve never been paid any $27,000,” Trammell said.
In a Jan. 19 interview he denied the allegations and said “I have absolutely no knowledge” of transfers of SCLC funds to his control and “I don’t believe any such bank accounts exist.”
In a phone interview, Gordon said he only signed checks from the national SCLC account after the expenditures were approved with vouchers signed by other officials, including Trammell.
“Some of the allegations that are being made are just ridiculous,” Gordon said.
In presenting the documents in Alabama, Rocker said he was joined by Wimbish and Ron Woods, who is on temporary leave as SCLC executive director.
The two were placed on leave by the Fulton County judge who on Jan. 20 granted a temporary restraining order restoring Trammell and Gordon to their jobs until the SCLC board could meet. Trammell and Gordon had agreed last year to step aside while the SCLC investigated complaints of financial impropriety against them.
Three SCLC board members, including Rev. Wilburt Shanklin of Dayton, sought the restraining order after the investigation was publicly announced in December. Shanklin is president of the IMA and a member of Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell’s Leadership Council.
The Dayton SCLC and IMA in 2009 received at least $304,952 in taxpayer funding for local programs, including money from the Montgomery County’s human services levy; county job and family services money funneled through the Dayton Urban League and federal funding for food and emergency shelter, a program administered by the United Way of Greater Dayton.
Every choice has a consequence. Keep in mind people are innocent until proven guilty. However, where there is smoke there is fire…so if guilt is established there will likely follow a prison sentence.
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