7/01/09 – TG: Government denies use of wiretaps

Texarkana Gazette
July 1, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Government denies use of wiretaps

Prosecution admits recordings of jailhouse visits, says defense has copies

The U.S. government denied it has any secretly recorded conversations of Tony Alamo but admits recordings of jailhouse visits and phone conversations exist, according to a Monday response to a defense motion filed earlier this month.

“No wire taps were utilized in this case,” the response states. “Defendant’s visitation with female residents of his household have been recorded beginning March 28, 2009.”

In the June 19 defense discovery motion, copies are requested of any recorded statements Alamo has made with “third parties” either with or without notice, including any that might have been acquired clandestinely.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also answered a defense motion for evidence, termed exculpatory, that could work in Alamo’s favor.

The judge will meet privately with the lawyers in his chambers July 10, according to a docket entry made Tuesday.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, is scheduled for trial July 13 in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas before U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes.

The 74-year-old evangelist is accused of bringing young girls across state lines for sex and could face life in a federal prison if convicted.

The government’s filing indicates jail visit recordings have been provided to Alamo’s attorneys and will continue to be as they occur.

“The government has provided in discovery computer discs containing telephone calls made by defendant from the Bowie County Correctional Center to his residence,” the reply said.

This includes all recorded phone calls made October 2008 through May 6, 2009.

The defendant’s recorded telephone calls will be provided to his lawyers as the calls are made available to government officials.

The government’s response addressed a number of other defense requests made in the discovery motion.

The government doesn’t plan to use any DNA, blood evidence, fingerprints or analyzed handwriting during the trial.

Since no experts are on the government’s list of witnesses, a request for information about that won’t require an answer, the response states.

The defense’s motion for discovery requested psychiatric and mental health records of government witnesses.

The government has no such records in its possession, according to the reply, which also mentioned medical privacy laws.

The government has agreed to provide the defense with copies of witness statements and witness criminal histories a week before trial, but the law doesn’t require such until after a witness has testified.

The government’s list of exhibits will be given to the defense July 10, so long as the trial begins July 13.

In the government’s response to the defense’s request for information that might help Alamo’s case, compliance as the law requires was promised but the government wants copies of notes made by investigators or of the personnel files of involved members of law enforcement kept private.

The defense also requested the name of a confidential informant mentioned in affidavits.

“Information pertaining to a confidential source must be revealed only when that confidential source was an eye and ear witness to the crime charged in the indictment,” the government’s reply said.

The government denied any law enforcement officials worked undercover during the investigation of Alamo’s alleged wrongdoing.

The government has not yet responded to a June 19 defense motion asking for more detailed information about how and when Alamo allegedly broke the law and to a June 23 motion asking the court to suppress evidence collected during a raid of ministry properties in Fouke, Ark., Sept. 20, 2008.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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