Delegates to the National Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to elect the Rev. Julius R. Scruggs of Huntersville, Ala., to lead the nation’s largest black religious organization.
In electing Scruggs president, the group handed a resounding defeat to Tampa pastor Henry Lyons, who sought to regain the presidency after serving time in prison for embezzling millions of dollars from the organization.
Lyons received just 924 votes of 5,032 ballots cast, or about 18 percent. Scruggs receive 1,408 voted.
Lyons tried suing to stall the election, but a judge ruled against him.
Some delegates to the convention were quoted as saying the vote was a matter of trust, not forgiveness.
Lyons, was forced out as convention president in 1999 after an investigation revealed he stole about $4 million from the denomination. He used the money to buy luxury homes and jewelry and support his mistresses. Lyons eventually was convicted and served almost five years in prison.
Scruggs, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, had served as the convention’s vice president at large. Both men are reported to be 67 years old.
The convention president earns $100,000 a year for a five-year term.