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Not-for-profit leader faces tax evasion, perjury charges

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Byron Alston, a high-profile employee of the anti-crime Ten Point Coalition and founder of the not-for-profit group Save the Youth Inc., is facing four felony counts of tax evasion and one count of perjury after an investigation led by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

Prosecutors say Alston, 50, did not file an Indiana individual income tax return for the years 2008 through 2012, despite receiving payments from both his own organization and the Ten Point Coalition. He was arrested Thursday and booked into Marion County Jail.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said the initial investigation began in late 2012 after Alston said under oath during a probation hearing for a prior conviction that he owned only one vehicle.

"We didn't believe him," Curry said.

A Bureau of Motor Vehicle check revealed a 1985 Cadillac, 2001 BMW and a 2001 Ford registered to Alston. The court asked Alston several questions pertaining to income and assets in an effort to determine whether he was eligible for a public defender, according to court documents. State police and county deputies discovered Alston had purchased the 2001 Ford F-150 on a tax-exempt basis on behalf of Save the Youth, but within three months transferred the vehicle into his name without paying Save the Youth.

The organization's purported mission is to help at-risk youth, but prosecutors allege Alston used much of the money intended for the group for personal gain. The organization won financial support from the city via crime-prevention grants as well as private dollars from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

An investigator digging into Alston's financials found Alston received $128,844 from Save the Youth from 2008 to 2009. Of that amount, $45,248 is undocumented as to why Alston received the money. The bank accounts also show cash deposits of more than $56,000 in which the source of cash is unknown.

Bank records for 2010-2012 were not available, filing documents say.

State police and county deputies executed a search warrant of Alston’s home in February. At the time, he described it as a politically motivated investigation by a prosecutor who is a Democrat targeting an organization (Ten Point) that has supported Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican.

As of Thursday, no date for an initial hearing had been set, Curry said. Alston’s bond is set at $5,000.

“This investigation determined that Byron Q. Alston formed the organization Save The Youth that was suppose (sic) to help at risk youth,” according to court documents in the Marion Superior Court. “Alston applied for grants that were supposed to be used for a specific purpose but documents showed that most of the grant money was used by Alston for his own personal gain.”

Prosecutor's office spokesman A.J. Deer told The Associated Press that Alston pleaded guilty to criminal confinement in 2009 and received a suspended sentence.

An attorney who has represented Alston and the coalition told AP he had no immediate comment on the arrest.

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  • We can and should do better
    IBJ: “Byron Alston, a high-profile employee of the anti-crime Ten Point Coalition and…” How can this be accurate, as the Ten Point Coalition (TPC) does not report having any employees on its payroll over the past five published tax years? Was he being paid by TPC personally or through Save The Youth (STY), by check or cash, as a 1099 contractor? IBJ: “Prosecutors say Alston, 50, did not file an Indiana individual income tax return for the years 2008 through 2012, despite receiving payments from both his own organization and the Ten Point Coalition.” Apparently, STY has not filed a tax return since 2009, had its tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS in May 2013, and was Administratively Dissolved by the Indiana Secretary of State’s office in November 2013. IBJ: “The organization won financial support from the city via crime-prevention grants as well as private dollars from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.” Doesn’t the City or the Pulliam Trust take five minutes to do preliminary vetting on any grant applicant or intended recipient before cutting a check to them? The sourcing of this information (above) is in the public domain and takes about five minutes, if that. Moreover, while we’re at it, let’s look at the TPC: Their IRS Form 990 tax returns, Part IX Statement of Functional Expenses, are void of any meaningful detail on how they spent taxpayer funded grants of more than $700,000 over the prior five years, and should immediately disqualify them from receiving additional funds until there is better disclosure.

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