January 31, 2014
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette
Properties associated with imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo didn’t go up for auction last week as planned.
“Before the court is another attempt by Tony Alamo to avoid responsibility and escape his creditors,” states a motion to enforce a federal judge’s order to sell a church and gym building in Fort Smith, Ark., which was scheduled to occur last week.
Six properties, including the church and gym, were to be sold per U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant’s finding that the properties are actually owned, controlled and operated for Alamo’s benefit and profit despite being placed in the names of Alamo loyalists.
Five members of Alamo Ministries filed mechanics’ liens against the two properties, claiming they are owed money for work on the real estate.
“These liens are fraudulent and should be declared invalid for three reasons. First, there was no valid contract between the lienholder and the owner of the property. Second the church members are filing these liens on behalf of Tony Alamo; the property owner. Third, if the court finds that the liens are legitimate, they should not be afforded priority because the claimants have failed to be diligent in bringing their claims,” states the motion filed by Texarkana lawyer David Carter and Irving, Texas, lawyer Neil Smith.
Four other properties in Fort Smith were sold last week as partial recompense toward a $30 million judgment Alamo owes two men who were abused as children raised in the ministry. A jury found Alamo guilty of battery, conspiracy and outrage in a civil case brought by Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna. Alamo is currently serving a 175-year prison term for bringing five women he wed as children across state lines for sex. A suit involving the women’s suffering is pending in state court.
Next week, Bryant is scheduled to hear arguments concerning properties in Fouke, Texarkana and Fort Smith, Ark., which Carter and Smith want to sell as well to partially satisfy Alamo’s debt to Ondrisek and Calagna. As with the Fort Smith properties already ordered for auction, members of Alamo’s flock are claiming they are the true owners of the properties, not their jailed pastor.
Bryant found in the case of the first six properties that Alamo’s practice of putting property in the names of his loyalists was nothing more than a scheme to avoid possible loss because of Alamo’s sexual and physical abuse of children and shady business practices.
In their motion, Carter and Smith point out that the same five members who now want the court to enforce liens on the Fort Smith church and gym are among those whose claims of ownership of the properties was previously denied.
“These claimants are members … who are once again doing Tony Alamo’s bidding,” the motion states. “The court untangled the web of deception that Tony Alamo spun to avoid his creditors. This most recent maneuver is just another example of the control he wields and the lengths to which he will go to avoid any responsibility for the judgment.”