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Lyons' federal trial scheduled to start April 7


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 1999

A Ministry in Question: more Times coverage of the Rev. Henry Lyons

TAMPA -- Jury selection in the federal trial of the Rev. Henry J. Lyons and two of Lyons' associates will begin April 7, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. has decided.

The trial, expected to last four to six weeks, dwarfs Lyons' recently concluded state case in its scope and the number of charges against Lyons, the president of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc.

Lyons faces 54 counts of money laundering, mail fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, extortion and tax evasion.

By comparison, Lyons faced one count of racketeering and two counts of grand theft in state court. He was found guilty of all three and faces three to eight years in prison when sentenced. If convicted in federal court of all 54 counts, his sentence could be nearly 20 years.

Bernice V. Edwards, the former public relations director for the NBC who was acquitted on a single count of racketeering in state court, faces 25 federal charges.

The third person who will go on trial in the federal system is Brenda D. Harris, the NBC conventions and meetings director who faces eight counts of money laundering, bank fraud and false statements.

Defense attorneys declined to comment Tuesday on the pending federal charges. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office also declined to comment.

In his order, Judge Adams also denied a number of motions by Lyons to investigate the operations of the grand jury that indicted Lyons, Edwards and Harris.

The grand jury foreman, Dale T. Marler, was arrested on drug trafficking charges last year, shortly after Lyons was indicted. An attorney for Lyons claimed the grand jury was prejudiced against Lyons.

Adams signed his order Friday, but it was only made public Tuesday.


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