Former Clayton NAACP official faces theft charges

A former treasurer of the Clayton County branch of the NAACP is awaiting her day in court after being charged with stealing from the organization.

Donna Hall Lemons, 51, faces three counts of theft by taking for allegedly withdrawing money in 2004, 2005 and 2006 from an NAACP account without authorization, according to an accusation filed in Clayton County Superior Court by District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson. The accusation says the alleged thefts were not discovered until July 27, 2006.

Lemons entered a not guilty plea Monday, according to court documents, and was granted $5,000 bond, her attorney, Willie Davis, said.

In October 2006, Jonesboro Police sought an arrest warrant against Lemons, alleging she had withdrawn $1,500 from an NAACP account at the South Main Street Wachovia bank without authorization. "Ms. Lemons is the former treasurer of the NAACP ... who had access to the account, but was not authorized to remove these funds. The withdrawal was made with a ‘counter' withdraw slip," then-Jonesboro Detective Sgt. Tim Jessup wrote in the warrant application.

It's not clear why the formal accusation, filed in December 2009, was not filed sooner.

Davis maintains that his client would not have been able to withdraw money from the account without a second person's signature. He said the matter ultimately stems from a dispute over an unaccounted for $600, but that further probing by NAACP officials turned up more allegedly missing money.

In an interview Tuesday, he questioned the organization's numbers and said any discrepancies should have been discovered during routine annual audits.

"Why would it take three years for you to discover that?" Davis said. "Even though Ms. Lemons is supposed to be the one on trial, the NAACP is going to end up the one on trial."

Clayton NAACP President Dexter Matthews could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Lemons' case is set to go to trial March 15, Davis said.