SCLC received tax money for closed shelters, programs

Officials say questions about SCLC programs prompt changes.

DAYTON — Midway through 2009, the federal government gave the Rev. Raleigh Trammell’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference Dayton chapter an $11,500 infusion of stimulus money for a battered women’s shelter in a Jefferson Twp. home owned by his church.

That was on top of $23,000 for the shelter the SCLC won from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the beginning of the year.

The only problem is that for at least the last five months of the year, and possibly more, there was no shelter. Nor was there a food pantry that FEMA also funded.

“I think it is unconscionable that they did not contact us when they closed,” said Jayne Klose, senior vice president of United Way of Greater Dayton, which administers the money.

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She said there is no way to know if the shelter and pantry were open at all last year because monitoring documents from the SCLC are not yet due. The agency learned that the shelter and pantry were closed when the Dayton Daily News raised questions about the existence of the facilities. United Way investigated and was told by SCLC officials that both closed in August, Klose said. 

The money for the pantry was included in the $90,058 in FEMA money awarded last year to the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance for feeding programs, including home-delivered meals.

Trammell is chairman of the Dayton and national SCLC and executive director of the IMA. All three groups are nonprofits.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, FBI agents raided local SCLC headquarters at 2132 W. Third St. along with Trammell’s home and that of his daughter, Angela Goodwine. The FBI said only that it is investigating SCLC financial activities and would not comment on whether that involves the local or national SCLC. Authorities say no one has been criminally charged in that case.

Trammell faces allegations from SCLC national officials that he and Spiver Gordon, national board treasurer, embezzled $569,000 from the national civil rights group. Local chapter employee DaMisha Douglas in November also filed a sexual harassment claim against Trammell and made a complaint to the national SCLC that he had been having sexual contact with her.

Trammell and Gordon have denied the allegations.

His groups have received FEMA money since 2001. Trammell sits on the local FEMA policy board. He and Goodwine were also the official contacts for the pantry and shelter, along with several other taxpayer funded programs the IMA and SCLC operate in Dayton.

Trammell and Goodwine did not respond to repeated requests for comment, nor did the Rev. Wilburt O. Shanklin, who is president of the IMA, and to whom Trammell referred questions about the FEMA feeding programs.

Members of the FEMA board, which allocates the money, said they had no idea they were funding a shuttered pantry and shelter.

“Where are the people who know these things who haven’t stepped up and said so?” said Burma Rai, a board member and chief executive of The Foodbank.

The local United Way administers the program for United Way Worldwide, which is the fiscal agent and is reporting Trammell’s groups to FEMA for a possible fraud investigation, Klose said. An audit will also be done.

FEMA spokesman Clark Stevens said he could not comment.

Lax oversight

The Dayton Daily News found lax oversight by government and funding agencies and incomplete and contradictory financial accounting of programs by the SCLC and IMA. The two groups received about $3.7 million since 1999, including $922,277 in 2008 and 2009.

The bulk of the money they get for local programs comes from Montgomery County. One program, funded by the county through the Dayton Urban League, went largely unwatched for the last two years.

The county has been sending money to SCLC and IMA since 2004 for the counseling and case management program for poor families. In 2008 and 2009, the two groups received $184,260.

When the Daily News last month asked for monitoring documents for the program, county officials realized there were no documents covering the last two years because the program hadn’t been monitored. Subsequently the county discovered the Urban League had failed to properly monitor the program as well, and the SCLC had little proof that they had provided the service, said Montgomery County Administrator Deborah Feldman.

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A stack of 150 client case management logs obtained by the newspaper showed that SCLC employee Allen Lattimore, Trammell’s grandson, claimed numerous clients served in October had gotten exactly the same basic services in the exact same order. The log sheets mostly reported that the clients were mailed letters, contacted for interviews and were seeking employment.

Feldman announced Thursday that the SCLC was being dropped from the program and that the Dayton Urban League would not be paid for monitoring activities until it developed a new plan for monitoring in consultation with the county.

In addition, the county department of job and family services will institute a new quality assurance plan for its own monitoring effort and immediately review all 250 funded programs, Feldman said.

“Obviously, we are very concerned about this issue and we are taking immediate corrective action,” said County Commissioner Judy Dodge.

Questionable documentation

The county also demanded a full financial accounting from Trammell before he will continue receiving the $40,000 awarded annually to the SCLC and IMA for a home-based meal delivery program that serves nine people.

The Daily News found questionable documentation in that program, including financial records that do not match the county’s accounting of funding going to those groups. For 2003, the county accepted two federal tax forms from the SCLC that reported completely different numbers. The county also did not question why the SCLC and IMA in most years did not list payroll taxes paid on employees who were being paid with taxpayer money.

Despite the questionable financial documents, the county agreed in 2008 to waive a requirement that the groups submit annual audits to receive funding for the feeding program. County files contain no audits of the SCLC or IMA since 2005. Feldman now says that was a mistake.

State officials also found problems with documentation in January when they inspected SCLC’s books for a criminal justice services grant to serve battered teens — problems so serious the state shut down the program and put on hold $53,000 for 2010.

The Dayton SCLC was picked for the program over several applicants that had been given higher rankings by the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Council, according to Joe Spitler, the council’s executive director.

“I don’t mean this disrespectfully,” said Spitler, “but if (state officials) are going to make decisions this contrary to our recommendations, it’s silly for us to spend the time (making the rankings).”

The money was cut off after an inspector found the SCLC had failed to document program expenditures in 2009. The state also cited the SCLC because Goodwine was the only person handling the money.

Distressing situation

Amidst all the problems and allegations surrounding Trammell’s groups, Feldman last week ended the practice of sending welfare recipients to work at SCLC as part of their public assistance obligation.

She said the entire situation with Trammel’s organizations is distressing because the county’s department of job and family services has long funded them and thought they were properly monitored.

“Clearly, we are not pleased that the policies and procedures that we had in place at JFS were not being followed,” said Feldman. “In this situation we could have done better, but I believe overall we do a very good job of managing the public’s money.”

She defended the county’s decision to fund programs headed by Trammell even though he was convicted of stealing from the county welfare department when he was deputy director in the 1970s.

“He went to jail. He served his time. He has since then been a very active member of the community representing an extremely important organization in this community and this country,” said Feldman. “The money was not going directly to Raleigh Trammell.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-7455 or lhulsey@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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