FEMA Money at Center
of FBI’s Trammell Investigation
Ex-SCLC leader allegedly sought money for closed food pantry, shelter.
By Lynn Hulsey, Staff Writer
January 20, 2011
The Rev. Raleigh Trammell failed to prove he properly spent $123,558 in Federal Emergency Management Agency money awarded in 2009 to two social service groups run by him, documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News show.
The Daily News requested the information last June from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In the documents, which arrived Wednesday, United Way Worldwide last May ordered Trammell to return the FEMA money if he could not document spending. Sal Fabens, spokeswoman for United Way Worldwide, which administers the FEMA money, said Wednesday that neither Trammell nor anyone from his organizations has re sponded.
The FBI is investigating Trammell’s handling of the money .
Trammell is the former chairman of the Dayton Southern Christian Leadership Conference and executive director of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which received money for a meals program, a domestic violence shelter and a food pantry. Last February the Daily News reported the shelter and food pantry were closed. Two months later, in April 2010, United Way received a check for $11,500 drawn on a Dayton account for “SCLC Women.”
The groups lost the funding last year.
Since 2001 nearly $730,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding went to the two local social service groups that were once headed by the Rev. Raleigh Trammell.
The money was supposed to be used for a meals program for the needy, a food pantry located in a dilapidated garage behind the headquarters of the 2132 W. Third St. former headquarters of Dayton Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a domestic violence shelter at 5170 Derby Road, Jefferson Twp.
The Dayton Daily News found last year that the pantry and shelter had been closed, even as Trammell sought more FEMA money from the Montgomery County Emergency Food and Shelter Board. The board, which Trammell was a member of until late 2009, awards the money and is overseen by United Way of the Greater Dayton Area. Trammell did not notify the board that the pantry and shelter were closed until he was confronted with the Daily News findings early last year.
Trammel is former chairman of the Dayton SCLC, which received money for the shelter, and is executive director of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which accepted the FEMA money for the feeding program and pantry. He has denied wrongdoing. His attorney, Martin Pinales of Cincinnati, has not returned repeated phone calls.
All public funding to the SCLC and IMA was withdrawn last year after the Dayton Daily News found that the pantry and shelter were closed, raised questions about a county-funded home-based meals program and found major problems with the financial accountability of both groups.
Trammell is being arraigned today in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on 51 felony counts — including grand theft, forgery and tampering with government documents — related to the county-funded feeding program.
The FBI is also investigating Trammell’s handling of the FEMA money, according to those who have been questioned by agents.
Trammell said the pantry and shelter closed in August 2009. However, officials at The Food Bank, which supplies local pantries, said SCLC had not been a member since 2007. And a Dayton Daily News examination of water usage at the shelter found there was very little used since mid-2006 and no water service between August 2007 and July 2008. SCLC received FEMA money for the shelter in those years and claimed in applications that it housed 19 women and children each week.
The water service was cut off last summer for nonpayment of the bill. Gas service too was shut off. The building is owned by Central Missionary Baptist Church, where Trammell is pastor.
In May, United Way Worldwide, the fiscal agent for the FEMA money, ordered Trammell to provide documentation that the services were provided or return the entire $124,558 award for 2009. Sal Fabens, spokeswoman for United Way Worldwide, said Wednesday there has been no response from the SCLC or IMA.
In April the “SCLC Women” submitted a check to United Way Worldwide for $11,500, which is the amount of federal stimulus money SCLC received from FEMA in 2009. The signature on the check was blacked out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which cited privacy laws.
Trammell said last year that he had reimbursed some FEMA money.