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  • Rev. Lyons to bless police chief's nuptials

    By TIM ROCHE

    ©St. Petersburg Times, published July 22, 1997


    ST. PETERSBURG -- When the city's police chief gets married next month, the Rev. Henry J. Lyons will perform the ceremony.

    Despite highly publicized revelations about Lyons' lifestyle and finances, Chief Goliath Davis III said Monday that he and his fiancee have no plans to find a new minister.

    "In my profession, you don't judge a person based on allegations when there hasn't been a conviction," Davis said. "The jury is still out."

    Lyons is the minister at Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church, where the chief's fiancee, Teresa Anderson, is a member. Davis attends another church, but he said he was following custom by using the bride's pastor for the ceremony, which is scheduled for Aug. 9.

    "I intend to honor my fiancee's wishes," Davis said during Monday's meeting of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. "I intend to allow Rev. Lyons -- if he is still with us -- to perform the ceremony."

    After the meeting, Davis said the Police Department is not investigating Lyons. But several agencies, including the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, are beginning to look at his business dealings.

    Deputies continue to collect information about a $700,000 Tierra Verde house, which Lyons owns with a woman who is a convicted embezzler. The minister's wife, Deborah Lyons, was arrested July 6 after detectives said she set fires inside the Tierra Verde house because she suspected her husband was having an affair with the other woman.

    Investigators also are reviewing the mortgage on the Tierra Verde house, including records on which Lyons indicated he was not married.

    Last week, sheriff's detectives also learned that a woman claiming to be Lyons' secretary cashed $28,000 worth of checks belonging to the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. Lyons is president of the convention, which is the nation's largest group of African-American churches.

    The donations were converted to cash at a check-cashing store in Webb's Plaza in St. Petersburg. The Sheriff's Office is investigating the cashed checks, even though the store is in the city limits.

    Davis said his department is not involved in the investigation because it did not receive the initial complaint about the cashed checks. In fact, he said, his department has received no complaints about Lyons.

    "If we get one, we will do what we customarily do with all complaints," Davis said. "We'll accept it, and we'll look at it."

    Davis said he would consider turning any complaints received by the Police Department over to another agency to investigate. Although Davis said he personally had no problems with investigating Lyons, he said he would want to avoid "any perception of impropriety."


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