Convicted minister resigns

CNN News, March 16, 1999

MIAMI (CNN) -- The Rev. Henry Lyons resigned Tuesday as president of the National Baptist Convention USA, two weeks after being convicted of racketeering.

"He stepped down with tremendous dignity. He said the time has come," defense lawyer Grady Irvin said outside an emergency meeting of the black church group's board of directors at Lyons' church.

Last month, Lyons was convicted by a jury in Clearwater, Florida, on charges of racketeering and theft in a scheme to bilk the group of $4 million

The jury acquitted Lyons' former aide and co-defendant, Bernice Edwards, who had been charged only with racketeering.

Lyons is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31 on state charges, and he is still being charged in a 54-count federal indictment for extortion, tax evasion, and fraud. Edwards faces similar charges.

Lyons' attorneys are negotiating to enter a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney to bring closure to that case.

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