NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The former president of the National Baptist Convention USA has sued the denomination over an election he overwhelmingly lost.
Delegates to the convention, the nation’s largest and oldest predominantly black denomination, last month chose the Rev. Julius R. Scruggs over the Rev. Henry Lyons. He lost to Scruggs on a vote of 4,108 to 924.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Washington, D.C., Lyons alleges fraud and improper vote-counting in the election that decided the new leader of some 7.5 million worshippers.
He contends “many violations of established procedures occurred in the voting process destroying the integrity of the ... election,” according to the lawsuit.
Lyons, pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, wants the court to declare the election “null and void.”
Lyons was forced out as the group’s president in 1999 after an investigation revealed he abused his power and stole about $4 million.
Lyons’ downfall came after his wife, Deborah, set fire to a $700,000 waterfront home he co-owned with a mistress, and the resulting investigation revealed he’d stolen money from the organization.
The couple has since divorced.
He was convicted of racketeering and grand theft in 1999.
He resigned as president and pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax evasion, fraud and making false statements.