November 27, 2014
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette
A federal judge in Texarkana recently denied a motion to vacate imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo’s conviction involving the sexual abuse of young girls.
Earlier this month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant recommended that Alamo’s conviction should remain intact in a 41-page opinion handed down in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas.
Alamo, 80, was convicted in July 2009 of all 10 counts in a federal indictment accusing him of bringing five women he wed as children across state lines for sex. Later that year, Alamo received a 175-year federal prison sentence.
Alamo has appealed his conviction and sentence before, and those appeals have been denied.
In his motion to vacate, Alamo argued his trial and appellate lawyers were ineffective, that the government withheld information that might have helped his case and that he was denied the constitutional right to testify in his own defense.
Bryant examined all of Alamo’s claims in depth and determined them to be without merit.
Since Alamo’s conviction, former wives and others who claim they were harmed by life in Alamo’s closed society have sued and won millions in damages. The suits have led to the sale of Alamo properties in Fouke and Fort Smith, Ark., to help satisfy the judgments.
Alamo’s followers lived on properties owned by the ministry and most worked as “volunteers” for the group. Members weren’t allowed to amass savings or communicate with outsiders, except to attempt to recruit them.
Witnesses at Alamo’s trial and in civil cases testified that children and adults were publicly beaten at Alamo’s direction and taught to fear authority and the government.
Alamo, whose given name is Bernie Lazar Hoffman, is being held at a federal lockup in Tucson, Ariz.