Community activist target of grand jury search warrant

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INDIANAPOLIS – Byron Alston is a well-known community activist with a criminal history who walks some of Indianapolis’ toughest neighborhoods in search of peace and information.

Tuesday morning Alston told Fox 59 News that federal agents, state troopers and sheriff’s deputies raided his north side home with a Marion County Grand Jury search warrant.

“I can say that as part of an ongoing investigation, a search warrant was executed at his residence,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told Fox 59 News.

“We have heard stories about this investigation,” read a statement from Mayor Greg Ballard’s Communications Director Marc Lotter. “Should it be found that this individual has committed a crime, we are confident it will be handled appropriately through the judicial system.”

Alston told Fox 59 News he was not arrested and does not know if he is the target of the investigation or merely a witness.

For several years Alston has been a member of the Ten Point Coalition, a faith-based organization that walks city neighborhoods after crimes have been committed preaching restraint and gathering intelligence about suspects and killings.

Alston previously operated “Save the Youth,” a north side organization that was shut down after his arrest on criminal confinement charges following a complaint by a young woman in his program.

Alston is currently on probation. He is a convicted felon who served time decades ago on a robbery charge.

Since his prison release, Alston has counseled troubled youth and gang members in an attempt to avoid crime retaliation and summer street violence.

Alston said investigators seized his computer and financial records of the “Save the Youth” organization dating back to 2007 in an apparent search for his funding sources. He was told his computer would be returned once investigators downloaded its information.

Alston and other sources confirm investigators raised the figure of $3 million during their raid and asked the activist, “Did a republican offer you a large sum of money?”

Alston said he was also asked whether the coalition had ever been the target of an extortion attempt.

During a funeral last month, Alston told Fox 59 News that he was approached by an unknown person who asked him about $3 million that his organization supposedly received and his rebuff of another ministerial group that requested half the funds.

Alston said investigators thumped his walls in what he perceived as an attempt to find false walls or possibly money stashed in the structure.

Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition supplied Fox 59 News with documentation confirming that Alston is a Street Outreach Coordinator paid a salary of $961.53 every two weeks.

Harrison also provided financial documents confirming the Coalition has received $811,808 in funding from various public, private and charitable entities since 2008.

$343,000 of that funding came from Mayor Ballard’s Crime Prevention Grants.

$300,000 came from Public Safety funding., including $50,000 in 2012 when Ten Point was shut out of Crime Prevention Grant money and received funding only after a scrambled search for sources by the mayor and then-Public safety Director Frank Straub which did not come to fruition until a week before the annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration when faith-based street workers walked downtown in an effort to bring peace to the event.

“As Mayor Ballard has often said,” reads Lotter’s statement, “the Ten Point Coalition is an invaluable partner in helping to protect our community and reduce violence. They work side-by-side with the men and women of IMPD as partners.

“Stories about investigators asking questions about the generic term ‘Republicans’ are very disturbing. Hopefully Prosecutor Curry’s office can elaborate on the rationale for this seemingly politically motivated line of questioning to dispel rumors that this is just politics as usual. We’ve seen that kind of action too many times at the federal level and don’t need that occurring here locally.”

The involvement of Indiana State troopers in the investigation may indicate the participation of ISP’s public corruption investigators.

Rev. Harrison decried the Grand Jury probe as a, “democratic witch hunt,” aimed at the republican mayor whom the Ten Point Coalition supported during his 2011 re-election too much criticism of Marion County democrats.