October 4, 2007
by Jim Williamson
Federal grand jury indicts minister
Allegations involve trafficking in counterfeit Nike shoes, music CDs
TYLER, Texas—A federal grand jury returned indictments Tuesday charging Leslie Ray “Buster” White, the associate pastor of Tony Alamo Ministries, with trafficking in 1,475 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes and trafficking in counterfeit labels of copyrighted compact music discs.
White is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven at 11 a.m. today in the Texarkana federal courthouse to enter a plea to the indictments.
The FBI also confiscated about $109,185 in cash from a safe in the Great American Outlet Mall on New Boston Road in Texarkana, Texas. The indictments are based on sales of the counterfeit shoes and CDs at the outlet mall.
“He is being railroaded because he goes to my church,” said Tony Alamo.
During appearances before the Fouke City Council meetings, White has been referred to as the associate pastor of Tony Alamo Ministries. However, Alamo said White was “just a member” of the ministries.
If convicted, White could receive a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $2 million for trafficking in counterfeit goods.
He could also receive a maximum of five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for trafficking in counterfeit labels, said Davilyn Walston, public information officer for U.S. Attorney John L. Ratcliffe of the Eastern District of Texas.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Jackson.
“The federal government is threatening Buster, saying he is going to prison and then say the whole thing will go away if he stops going to my church and makes false accusations against me,” said Alamo in a telephone interview.
White was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.
A radio program broadcast by the ministries, dated June 15, discussed the initial investigation and was listed as “Program 395.” The Gazette listened Wednesday to the recorded program available to the public over the Internet on the ministry’s Website.
During the program, White said FBI agents “stole $110,000 from my safe and $55,000 to $60,000 of inventory.”
Also on the radio program, White alleged one officer with no badge told him, “You know we can make all this go away.”
White said, “What do you mean go away?”
White said the officer told him, “We know Alamo is in a money-laundering scheme.”
White then said, “That’s a lie.”
White also claimed in the radio program he was “harassed at our home.”
“People standing on the corner taking pictures. They got our trash and scattered it,” he said. “After weeks and weeks of harassment at my home, my attorney said the prosecutor told my attorney, ‘We could come to some reasonable conclusion,’” said White on the radio program.
“When they found out I wasn’t going to lie on you or your ministry, they had a change of heart,” White told Alamo during the radio program.
“I told everyone involved in this, ‘You can take my business, my homes, cars, but you can’t take my soul,’” said White in the program.