SCLC battered women’s shelter had little occupancy for years

Raleigh Trammell’s group received nearly $745,000 in taxpayer money to run Safehouse in Jefferson Twp.

But Montgomery County records indicate that since mid-2006, very little water has been used in the home at 5170 Derby Road in Jefferson Twp.

In fact, the property has not been a consistent user of water since June 13, 2006, said Greg Merrill, director of environmental services for Montgomery County. Records show no water usage at all from August 2007 to July 2008, he said.

Yet the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been providing an annual infusion of money for the shelter since 2004, and the state or county has kicked in money for the shelter since at least 1999. All told, nearly $745,000 in taxpayer money has gone to the SCLC Safehouse and its domestic violence program since 1999, according to government records and SCLC tax forms.

The SCLC’s 2010 funding application, signed by Trammell’s daughter Angela Goodwine, claimed the organization had served 225 women and children since 1988.

RELATED: SCLC received tax money for closed shelters, programs

Efforts to reach Trammell, chairman of the Dayton SCLC, were not successful, and Goodwine declined comment.

The FBI raided SCLC’s Dayton offices and the homes of Goodwine and Trammell on Feb. 11 and have asked to meet with officials at the United Way of Greater Dayton, which administers the federal funds Trammell’s groups received.

National SCLC member Art Rocker, who met with FBI agents from Ohio and Georgia last week in Atlanta, said the probe involves the SCLC’s use of federal funds.

Tammy Slater, who lives directly behind the purported shelter in the Derby Road neighborhood, said she has seen little activity there.

“I grew up out here and I’ve never known anything to be there,” Slater said. “The most I’ve ever seen there was people mowing the lawn. I thought it was vacant all this time. It’s been years.”

Slater said battered women need more services, but it doesn’t seem that Trammell is providing them. “He’s getting all this money,” she said, “and it’s sad he isn’t using it to do good.”

RELATED:  Monitoring lax on tax money given to SCLC

Part two:

SCLC battered women’s shelter had little occupancy for years

In mid-June of last year, the Rev. Raleigh Trammell’s local Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapter received two electronic transfers of federal money totalling $17,250 for a battered women’s shelter the group claimed to operate in Jefferson Twp.  

Within two weeks of the transfers, water was turned off at the 5170 Derby Road shelter for non-payment of a $341 bill, said Greg Merrill, Montgomery County director of environmental services. In June, Vectren disconnected gas at the house, which is owned by Trammell’s church.  

Even so, the SCLC in August accepted another $5,750 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for the Safehouse, a shelter that was supposed to house 19 women and children a week.  

A Dayton Daily News examination raises new questions about the shelter, a federally funded program to fight domestic violence, a food pantry and a meals program that the SCLC or the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance operate with taxpayer funds. For example:  

• County records show little water usage at the shelter property since mid-2006 and no water service between August 2007 and July 2008, Merrill said. SCLC received nearly $200,000 in federal money for the shelter and domestic violence programing since 2006, and at least $743,361 since 1999. 

• Most of the “community stakeholders” the SCLC listed on the applications it submitted to successfully secure federal funding for its Teen Relationship Abuse Program said they had never heard of the program, which purports to fight teen violence. Listed stakeholders include the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the county Department of Job and Family Services, Miami Valley Hospital, the Dayton Public Schools, the YMCA and the YWCA. The program’s paid staff included Trammell’s two adult daughters and a son-in-law.  

• A former SCLC receptionist who first worked for the organization in 2001 said the shelter was closed when she was rehired in 2004. After seeing photographs of damage inside the vacant house, she said she was shocked when she heard that Trammell’s organization was getting FEMA money. “I was like, the Safehouse is not even open and they’re getting money?” said Dionne Jones of Dayton.  

• The SCLC and IMA listed some of the same clients for separate programs that provide home-delivered meals to the elderly — one funded by the county human services levy and the other by FEMA. When a Daily News reporter told Montgomery County Administrator Deborah Feldman about the records, she said she would cut levy funding to the two organizations. 

 While it is unclear from the documentation if the groups double-billed for meals, Feldman said mounting controversy surrounding Trammell prompted her to act to halt the $40,000 in annual levy funding. She said the county will find another agency to serve the nine elderly people now being fed by the two groups using levy funding.  

“I think the information that has come to light from the last several days (and) weeks raises questions about all the documentation we have received from the SCLC,” Feldman said.  

Trammell did not return phone calls seeking comment.  

Trammell is chairman of the national SCLC and its Dayton chapter, and executive director of the IMA. His local activities came under scrutiny after national SCLC officials accused Trammell and national treasurer Spiv-er Gordon of embezzling $569,000.  

Both the local SCLC and IMA have since lost funding over concerns about how the money was spent. On Feb. 11, the FBI raided the local SCLC offices and the homes of Trammell and his daughter Angela Goodwine. That same day, Feldman said she was eliminating nearly $52,000 in annual funding to the SCLC for a counseling and case management program through the Dayton Urban League. Feldman said the SCLC couldn’t prove it had provided the services. 

Last week, after learning that the SCLC’s Derby Road shelter and a food pantry operated by the IMA had quietly closed, the Montgomery County Emergency Food and Shelter Policy Board rejected $87,979 in 2010 FEMA funding for the shelter and the IMA’s food programs, which included the pantry, home-delivered meals and a feeding program at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church.  

The church has been feeding elderly people five days a week for 26 years, said its pastor, the Rev. Junior Greenlee. Greenlee is listed on SCLC letterhead as the group’s treasurer, although he said he hasn’t been treasurer for 10 or 15 years.  

He said it’s “ridiculous” that the board rejected funding. 

‘We are not partners’ 

A Daily News tally found the county, state and federal governments have given the Dayton SCLC and IMA about $3.7 million in taxpayer money since 1999 for a variety of local programs.  

One of them was SCLC’s Teen Relationship Abuse Program, headed by Good-wine, which collected more than $120,000 in federal tax money to talk to kids about preventing violence, according to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, which administers the TRAP program.  

Most of the organizations listed by the SCLC as partners had no idea they were included on the group’s application for the money.  

“We are not partners with this TRAP thing at all,” said Bonnie Weyrauch, assistant to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. “This is news to us.”  

“I have called every department I know of and no one knows about this program,” said Jill Moberley of the Dayton Public Schools.  

“I’ve never heard of this program,” said Tim Helm, president and chief executive of the YMCA of Greater Dayton.  

As project manager, Goodwine was paid $29 an hour. Also on the TRAP payroll were Goodwine’s husband, Virgil, and Trammell’s other daughter, Cheryl Spencer, an employee of Montgomery County Job and Family Services.  

County officials are looking into Spencer’s connection with TRAP because she did not seek permission to work there as required by her department’s conflict-of-interest rules, said Ann Stevens, spokeswoman for JFS. 

 State officials recently shut down the program and halted payments of more than $50,000 after finding Good-wine couldn’t prove how the money was being spent.  

Reached Friday, Good-wine said she had no comment. 

A ‘multitude’ of services 

Since 2004, FEMA spent $134,033 on the Derby Road Safehouse, which provided clients with a “multitude” of domestic violence services, including counseling, case management and job placement, according to SCLC’s 2009 funding application. 

The 2010 application, submitted by Goodwine, says the shelter has been open since 1988 and served 225 women and children.  

Water and gas remain disconnected there, and records indicate that annual water usage since mid-2006 has been far less than that of an average family of four, according to Merrill. Usage also was low in 2004 and 2005.  

Moreover, the Safehouse is virtually unknown among local officials who assist victims of domestic violence. None of those interviewed made referrals to it.  

“I have never heard it mentioned,” said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl. “It certainly appears very unlikely that we ever referred anyone there as a victim.”  

Trammell signed invoices claiming the promised shelter services had been provided, according to documents for 2006-08 on file at the United Way of Greater Dayton. Documents for 2009 are not yet due.  

Jayne Klose, senior vice president of United Way of Greater Dayton, which administers FEMA money for the Virginia-based United Way Worldwide, said Trammell called Friday and asked how to appeal the policy board’s decision to cut off funding.  

“We are obviously extremely distressed by these findings and will work with the appropriate authorities to rectify this serious violation of the community’s trust in this SCLC program,” Klose said.  

She said the FBI called her Friday asking to meet with United Way officials. 

Scarce resources 

The discoveries made during probes into the activities of Trammell’s organizations have been unsettling for others who run community programs for those in need.  

“Resources in this and every community are very, very scarce,” said Patti Schwartztrauber, executive director of the Artemis Center in Dayton, which provides domestic violence resources.  

“It gives a bad impression of nonprofit organizations, as if they’re not monitored or not trustworthy. It’s just incomprehensible to me that they were able to get by like that.”

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