Angela Goodwine, 53, of Dayton pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to stealing $70,000 in taxpayer money that was supposed to help battered women.
The conviction was the second related to social services programs operated by the Dayton chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Montgomery County. Goodwine’s father, the Rev. Raleigh Trammell, was convicted last year in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court last year on felonies involving a separate taxpayer-funded program.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Rose accepted Goodwine’s plea on one felony count of theft from a program receiving federal funding. Rose freed Goodwine on her own recognizance and set sentencing for Aug. 6.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Goodwine likely would receive eight to 14 months in prison, attorneys for both sides said, though she could be sentenced to anything from probation to 10 years in prison. She also could be fined up to $250,000, Rose said.
“The people these funds were ultimately intended to help are people who are severely disadvantaged and in desperate need of help,” said Brent Tabacchi, assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district. “I think that fact makes the theft in this case particularly egregious.”
Goodwine was subdued in court, dabbing at her eyes and quietly answering Rose with “yes, sir” and “no,sir,” without elaborating. She would not comment as she left court.
“She accepts responsibility for this offense and wants to move on,” said her attorney, Mia Wortham Spells. “It’s just unfortunate that Miss Goodwine and her family are defined by this.”
In February 2010, the FBI raided the offices of the SCLC and the Dayton homes of Trammell and Goodwine, seizing financial records and other documents. Trammell, former head of the national and Dayton chapters of the SCLC, has not been federally charged and Tabacchi said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation.
Trammell last year was convicted on 51 state felony counts for misuse of taxpayer money in a home-delivered meals program for needy elderly people. He was sentenced to 18 months in state prison but after a short stay in prison was released pending his appeal.
A Dayton Daily News investigation in 2010 found evidence that the battered women’s shelter and a food pantry operated by the SCLC and funded by FEMA did not exist. The SCLC had received nearly $200,000 in taxpayer funding since 2006 for the non-existent shelter. Goodwine told a local funding board that the shelter had been open since 1988 and served 225 women and children. The shelter was purported to be located in a house owned by and adjacent to her father’s Central Baptist Church in Jefferson Twp.
In an affidavit in support of a search warrant obtained for the 2010 raid, the FBI said it received information from a confidential informant that the shelter “was often vacant” but that Goodwine and Trammell allowed family members to live in the home “to create the appearance of a functioning shelter.”
The confidential informant said, “Trammell and/or Goodwine” would then submit invoices for payment “and claim the family members were legitimate clients of the shelter.”
The informant said Goodwine, who managed the shelter’s bank accounts, “often pays personal expenses and provides allowances to her children from the Stop The Violence funds,” according to the affidavit.
As director of the SCLC’s Stop the Violence Campaign, Goodwine received more than $70,000 in grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency between 2006 and 2009 to fund a battered women’s shelter, according to the statement of facts signed by Goodwine and read aloud by Tabacchi in court.
“To obtain this funding, Ms. Goodwine submitted or caused to be submitted to FEMA records that falsely documented the number of individuals who had stayed at the shelter during this period,” Tabacchi said. “Contrary to Ms. Goodwine’s representations to FEMA, the purported shelter rarely housed any guests between 2007 and mid-2009.”
Tabacchi said between July 2008 and July 2009 FEMA released more than $20,000 to Goodwine’s organization.
“Rather than using this money as promised, Ms. Goodwine diverted the money from the organization and used it for her own personal benefit,” according to the statement of facts.
Interviewed later outside the courtroom, Tabacchi said officials believe Goodwine mostly used the money for living expenses.
He said the felony charge in the case references just the period between July 2008 and July 2009, but Goodwine is admitting to the theft of the full $70,000 and has agreed to repay the entire amount to the federal government.
The U.S. attorney’s office agreed there would be no further criminal charges against Goodwine for violations during the time period covered in the bill of information outlining the felony charge and the statement of facts.
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