WASHINGTON (Mar. 2)
A Florida jury has convicted the president of the National Baptist Convention USA of racketeering and grand theft, in part for stealing close to $250,000 donated by the Anti-Defamation League.
The Rev. Henry Lyons was found guilty on Saturday of stealing a $244,500 donation from the ADL to rebuild black churches that had been destroyed in a wave of arson attacks.
After newspaper reports unveiled the theft, the ADL requested that Lyons account for the money. When he could not, Lyons returned the money to the ADL, which then redistributed the funds through another avenue.
“From everything that I know, it’s an appropriate verdict,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL.
“We’re doubly satisfied,” because the money eventually went to churches in need and justice was served, he said.
Prosecutors accused Lyons of stealing more than $4 million from other companies seeking to sell products to members of the black church group.
Lyons and the group’s public relations director, Bernice Edwards, who was acquitted in the state trial, face a federal trial later this year on tax evasion, extortion, money laundering and fraud.
Under state sentencing guidelines, Lyons faces three to seven years in prison.