OH jury finds civil rights group's ex-chair guilty

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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- The former chairman of an Atlanta-based civil rights organization was convicted Friday on 51 felony charges, including grand theft, involving a meal program for older poor people in southwest Ohio.

A jury in Dayton found the Rev. Raleigh Trammell, 74, guilty of charges involving a home-delivered meals service run from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Dayton chapter's headquarters, Montgomery County Prosecutor's spokesman Greg Flannagan said in an email.

The SCLC chapter had a contract for delivery of nutritious meals to low-income senior citizens, and the prosecutor's office said the crimes involved meals that county officials paid for but weren't delivered.

Attorneys for Trammell, who did not take the witness stand, argued that he and the rest of the Dayton chapter were guilty of nothing more than accounting errors, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Prosecutors said the county reimbursed $38,000 to the Dayton group for 7,000 meals that were not delivered between 2005 and early 2010. Two of the people whom Trammell claimed to feed were dead, two had never heard of his program and three were in long-term care facilities and were not receiving extra meals, according to prosecutors.

Defense attorney Candace Crouse said in court that she could not explain how the two dead individuals, or the two people who said they did not know they'd been signed up, ended up on invoices, the newspaper reported.

Trammell was in charge of securing grants for programming and delegated program operations to others, she said.

The former president of the Dayton chapter was indicted in January 2011 on one charge of grand theft and 25 counts each of forgery and tampering with government documents.

Crouse said Friday after the verdict that Trammell will appeal and that the prosecution did not provide evidence to support the charges.

Trammell lost his leadership roles at the Dayton and national SCLC levels in 2010 after a dispute among factions at the national level.

The Atlanta-based SCLC, co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957, 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.

Trammell's sentencing is set for June 27.