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Indictment of Lyons is upheld


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 1998

TAMPA -- A federal judge has rejected a motion to dismiss the Rev. Henry J. Lyons' fraud indictment in the wake of the drug-trafficking arrest of the grand jury foreman in the Lyons case.

A Ministry Questioned: more coverage from the St. Petersburg Times.

In an order released Friday, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. ruled that Lyons, the president of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc., had presented no evidence that the foreman harbored bias or prejudice against him.

The ex-foreman of the grand jury that indicted Lyons, 55-year-old Dale T. Marler of Holmes Beach, made news last August with his arrest on charges of trafficking cocaine and marijuana.

Marler, awaiting trial, is a widely known Manatee citrus dealer.

What was lacking in the case, the judge wrote, was evidence of prejudice against Lyons.

"Defendants offer nothing, except their belief that Marler harbored bias, prejudice or the lack of impartiality against Defendant Lyons, or that he tainted the grand jury or the grand jury process," Adams wrote.

Lyons' attorney, Grady C. Irvin Jr., had made the motion to quash Lyons' indictment part of a broader request for an investigation into the grand jury's conduct relating to Marler. The judge also denied the motion for an evidentiary hearing.

Irvin could not be reached Friday. Nor could the attorney for Bernice V. Edwards, a Lyons co-defendant who joined in the motion.

Edwards, a former public relations director for the National Baptist Convention, Brenda D. Harris, an NBC meetings planner, and Lyons are charged in a lengthy federal indictment with conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud and other crimes.

In separate motions filed Thursday, Edwards sought to have her trial severed from Lyons' and Harris' trial.


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