6/04/09 – TG: Federal judge grants motion to serve fugitive [John Kolbek] via newspaper notice

Texarkana Gazette
June 4, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Federal judge grants motion to serve fugitive via newspaper notice

A federal judge has granted a motion from the attorney representing two former Tony Alamo Christian Ministries followers to serve a fugitive defendant with notice of a civil lawsuit in the newspaper.

The suit, filed Nov. 25 by Texarkana lawyer David Carter on behalf of Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, alleges the men were subjected to beatings, forced fasts and other inhumane treatment while living as children on ministry property.

Tony Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, and John Kolbek, an alleged enforcer, are named as defendants.

Kolbek’s whereabouts have been unknown since before the suit was filed. He is wanted by authorities in Sebastian County, Ark., for second degree battery. The charge is connected to allegations of the use of a 6-foot-long wooden paddle hand-crafted to beat Calagna until he was bruised and bleeding. Federal officials have issued a warrant for Kolbek for unlawful flight from prosecution.

“We’ll get the warning order published as soon as we can,” Carter said. “The first day it’s published, a 30-day period for him to file an answer of some kind begins.”

Under federal law, defendants in a civil suit must be served with notice of the suit within 120 days of filing.

Kolbek’s status as a fugitive has made it necessary for Carter to first request an extension to serve Kolbek and now permission to serve him in a newspaper. The notice will be published once a week for two weeks.

If Kolbek doesn’t answer, Carter will move forward anyway.

“If he doesn’t answer, we’ll likely ask the court to allow us to proceed with a default judgment against Kolbek and serve that from the case against Alamo,” Carter said.

Carter was able to serve Alamo with notice of the suit in jail.

The evangelist has been in custody since October. He is facing a 10-count federal indictment in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas alleging he brought young girls across state lines for sex. At a detention hearing last year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant ruled the 74-year old is a flight risk and presents a threat to the community.

Alamo is being represented in the civil suit by Florida attorney Phillip Kuhn. Jury selection in his criminal trial is scheduled to begin July 13.

If Kolbek doesn’t respond to the public notice, Carter will ask Barnes to allow separation of the suit into two actions and take steps to acquire a default judgment against Kolbek.

If the court rules in Ondrisek’s and Calagna’s favor with respect to Kolbek, Carter will then attempt to collect.

“If we locate property in his (Kolbek’s) name, we can get a writ of execution to seize it,” Carter said. “We could then sell it at public auction and the proceeds would be applied against any judgment awarded my clients.”

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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