6/24/09 – TG: Tony Alamo’s defense team file motions

Texarkana Gazette
June 24, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Tony Alamo’s defense team file motions

Tony Alamo’s defense team filed motions Tuesday asking the court to keep evidence collected during September’s raid on ministry properties out of his criminal trial next month.

The defense also wants the names of informants who allegedly provided officials with incriminating information about the controversial evangelist.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, is scheduled for trial next month before U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas. The 10-count federal indictment alleges he brought young girls across state lines for sex.

“Such evidence will include but not be limited to computers and the information thereon, business records and photographs, both seized and taken by the agents,” said the motion to suppress evidence.

Tuesday’s motions were filed by Texarkana attorney Jeff Harrelson. Don Ervin of Houston is representing Alamo as well.

The motion to suppress and a supporting brief assert that the search warrant executed by the FBI on Sept. 20, 2008, contained information that was too old to be used as probable cause to search the Fouke properties.

The search warrant indicated officials believed pornographic photos of children would be found. “There is no probable cause to believe that these pictures would still be in a locked cabinet in defendant’s bedroom five to eight years later,” the motion to suppress said.

The defense refers to case law that calls information “fatally stale” if a significant lapse of time occurs between an allegation and a search.

Specifically, the motion mentions a description of one alleged victim of sexual abuse. The victim, now 17, was between 9 and 12 years old when the alleged abuse occurred.

The defense’s motions further argue the search warrant was flawed because the dates informants were interviewed are missing, as is any explanation as to why those giving the information should be trusted.

Harrelson and Ervin also want the court to order the government to reveal the identities of those who secretly passed information to investigators.

“Defendant can clearly show that any alleged confidential informant utilized in their case is a key witness for the government and, therefore, the informant’s privilege should give way to the defendant’s right to disclosure,” the motion said.

Acting U.S. Attorney Debbie Groom of the Western District of Arkansas said the government is working on responses it will file soon to the defense’s motions.

Alamo is jailed in downtown Texarkana. At a detention hearing in October, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant ruled the 74-year-old should be held without bail because he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.


In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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