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Sham food program nets conviction for former SCLC chair

  • Written by NNPA News Service
  • Published in News

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Former Southern Christian Leadership Conference Board Chairman Raleigh Trammell has been convicted on all 51 felony charges filed against him in Dayton, Ohio in connection with a sham home-delivery food program loosely modeled after the successful meals on wheels federal program. He remains free on $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be sentenced June 27.

Trammell, 74, was ousted as chairman of SCLC on Nov. 13, 2009 along with treasurer Spiver Gordon of Eutaw, Ala. The two were suspected of operating unauthorized bank accounts that siphoned off more than $500,000 from the civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Trammell and Gordon went to court in Atlanta seeking reinstatement but lost that challenge.

Tramel-Mugshot-175In the Ohio case, Trammell was accused of stealing $50,000 of taxpayer money from 2005 to 2010 that was intended to go into programs helping the poor and the elderly. Trammell claimed to be serving meals to Oscar Davis, a longtime friend, residing in the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center nursing home.

Witnesses testified that they never signed up for the program, had not received any food deliveries and did not meet the requirement that they be at least 60 years old.

According to invoices submitted by Trammell in 2008, his group served hundreds of meals to Mary Frances Davis and Charlotte Mercedes Garrett. There was only one problem – the prosecutor produced death certificates showing that Davis died August 19, 2007 and Garrett died May 5, 2004.

Trammell's attorney tried to dismiss those offenses as accounting errors. But Montgomery County Prosecutor Ward Barrentine offered the court a different explanation: "That's intentional fraud," he said. "Dead people don't eat meals. I don't need to tell you that."

When sentenced later this month, Trammell could be staring at the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars.

If Trammell is imprisoned, it won't be his first time behind bars. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Trammell "went to prison in the 1970s for cheating a county welfare department in Ohio."

Former SCLC national treasurer Spiver Gordon also served time in federal prison for voter fraud. He pleaded guilty in 1999, admitting that he had asked a person who lived outside of Greene County, Ala. to fill out an absentee ballot that listed a false county address. Gordon was sentenced to six months in prison, fined $2,000 and given three years of supervised probation.

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