5/1/14 – TG: Alamo followers don’t appear at court hearing on property claims. One man sends letter saying proceedings doing nothing ‘more than leaving us homeless.’
May 1, 2014
By: Lynn LaRowe
Alamo followers don’t appear at court hearing on property claims.
One man sends letter saying proceedings doing nothing ‘more than leaving us homeless.’
Followers of Tony Alamo did not show for a court hearing Wednesday to address claims of ownership to properties in Fouke and Texarkana, Ark., that a federal judge has ruled can be sold.
Earlier this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant nixed claims to properties in Fouke and Fort Smith, Ark., made by more than 70 Alamo loyalists on properties associated with imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo. However, Bryant said he is willing to consider additional evidence concerning the claims of two men whose names appear on titles for houses in Fouke and Texarkana.
One of the men, Douglas Brubach, who has a claim to a Fouke house on Redcut Road, sent Bryant a letter explaining his absence. Brubach referred to prior proceedings concerning the properties as resulting in nothing “more than leaving us homeless with our life’s work in shambles.”
“I do not intend to be on hand for more of the same on the April 30, 2014, hearing,” Brubach’s letter states. “It appears to me our entire congregation has been tried and convicted with Pastor Alamo because we don’t believe he is guilty of all the abominable acts he has been accused of.”
Bryant previously ruled a number of properties associated with the controversial group are held for the benefit and profit of Alamo even though title to the real estate is held in the names of individual Alamo Ministry members. Ownership is routinely transferred from member to member via quitclaim deeds. Lawyers representing Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna—David Carter of Texarkana and Neil Smith of Irving, Texas—argued the quitclaim transfers are a scheme to shield Alamo from liability for his misdeeds.
Alamo owes Ondrisek and Calagna each $15 million in damages ordered in a civil suit. Alamo was found guilty of conspiracy, battery and outrage in that case. Ondrisek and Calagna were beaten, starved, forced to labor unpaid and denied education as children raised in Alamo Ministries. Bryant has ruled many Alamo properties can be sold to partially satisfy Alamo’s debt to the two men.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Bryant said Brubach’s letter serves as notice of his election not to attend the hearing while Wattles’ absence equates to a failure to appear. Wattles’ name appears on a title to a house in the 200 block of Locust Street in Texarkana, Ark.
Bryant said he will issue an order concerning the Texarkana and Fouke houses in a day or two.
Carter asked Bryant to take notice of testimony Brubach and Wattles gave at prior hearings during which each conceded that while their names appear as record title holders, they believe they are actually holding the parcels for all members of the church.
Alamo is being held in a federal lockup in Tuscon, Ariz., where he is serving a 175-year prison term for bringing five women he wed as children across state lines for sex.