CONCORD, N.C. -- One of four former top Jaycee leaders facing trial pleaded no contest Monday to two charges relating to mishandling funds, from the sale of jelly, intended for a state burn center.
J. Harold Herring, who headed the North Carolina Jaycees in 1978 and 1979, entered the no contest plea to one count of misapplication of funds and one count of conspiracy to misapply funds as trial was set to begin for all four men in superior court.
Herring of Mount Olive was indicted along with Robert A. Rushton of Gray, Ga., John L. Fletcher of Concord and Thomas A. Alsop and Maurice Wilson, both of Charlotte, for misapplication of as much as $239,000.
Most of the money was derived from the sale of Jaycee jelly, sold to raise funds for the North Carolina Burn Center at Chapel Hill.
Wilson, former director of the state Jaycees, also has pleaded guilty to 13 charges and is expected to join Herring in testifying for the prosecution.
Rushton is a former national Jaycee president, Fletcher is a former state president and Alsop was once president of the Charlotte chapter.
The men allegedly used the money to pay operating expenses and establish bogus Jaycee chapters to enhance the chances of North Carolina Jaycees winning national recruiting honors.
Rushton also is accused of conspiring with Wilson to spend $22,500 in charity money to send a group of Jaycees on a trip to Las Vegas.
In exchange for his plea, three other charges against Herring will be dropped. The agreement to drop other charges of conspiracy and misapplication of funds also says Herring will testify against the three other defendants.