Longtime Ten Point Coalition activist resigns

Had been investigated by a grand jury in February

INDIANAPOLIS - A 15-year member of the Ten Point Coalition has resigned from the activist group.

Rev. Charles Ellis of the Ten Point Coalition announced Tuesday that Byron Alston, a street outreach worker for the group, resigned Friday. 

Alston has been with the coalition since 1999, Ellis said.

"The board of directors of Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition appreciate Alston's many years of service and hard work in order to make Indianapolis a safer place," Rev. Ellis wrote. "We wish him well in all his future endeavors."

Alston's resignation comes just a few months after he was investigated by a grand jury. We've gotten no indication that the two items are related, but here's what happened.

A grand jury investigation in February raised questions about the community activist and the anti-crime group that he works for.

The Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition raised questions of its own about the motivation of the Marion County prosecutor’s investigation into one of its members.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed back in February that grand jury investigators served a search warrant on the home of Alston.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office filed criminal charges against Alston after their investigation. Charges of tax evasion and perjury were filed on May 29, 2014.

The organization and the mayor’s office believe there may be more to the case than just a criminal investigation.

Sources familiar with the investigation said that police ripped through walls of Alston’s north-side home in search of large sums of money, while at the same time, asking Alston about the Coalition’s relationship with the local Republican Party.

"The possibility of Mr. Alston laundering money through the Ten Point Coalition, that's absurd. And for us, it seems to be a direct attack on the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition," Ten Point Coalition President Rev. Charles Harrison said.

The Ten Point Coalition employs convicted felons as outreach workers to respond to homicides and incidents of extreme violence; among them, up until Friday, was Alston, a two-time convicted felon.

"That's what we do, try to calm down the temperature and get the crowd to understand what's going on and let the police do their job," Alston said.

Last year, the Ten Point Coalition was one of several community organizations to receive modest grants awarded by the city to help police fight crime.

"We're very concerned. And we're trying to understand the connectivity of what they're doing with Mr. Alston, and then of course, somehow trying to insinuate that the Ten Point has something to hide. And we have nothing to hide," Rev. Clarence Moore said.

"Stories about investigators asking questions about the generic term 'Republicans' are very disturbing," Mayor Greg Ballard's office said in a statement.

The statement asked Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry to elaborate on the seemingly politically motivated line of questioning to dispel rumors that this is just politics as usual.

"For us then, that's an abuse of power by our prosecutor and that's what concerns us," Harrison said.

"We are offended by the suggestion of the mayor's office that this investigation is politically motivated. It is an insult to not only the integrity of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office but to our law enforcement partners. We have made great strides in the last three years to restore trust and integrity to this office and to suggest otherwise is unwarranted and inflammatory," Curry said in a statement.

Alston was a paid outreach worker who makes $25,000 annually. He remains on probation for a 2011 felony conviction for criminal confinement.

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