7/21/09 – Alamo: I should be putting them on trial

Texarkana Gazette
July 21, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Alamo: I should be putting them on trial

As an FBI special agent testified in Tony Alamo’s trial Monday, the evangelist blurted profanity and bashed the federal agency in open court.

Alamo continued his derisive speech as he was being led from the courthouse.

“The FBI likes to burn Christians,” Alamo said. “I should be putting them on trial, not them on me.”

Alamo also mentioned the events surrounding the Branch Davidian tragedy near Waco, Texas, and uttered “bulls—” on several occasions.

“The judge asked me to ask him to cool it, which I did,” said defense attorney Phillip Kuhn. “But clients have not followed my advice before.”

Kuhn said he isn’t sure if Alamo will testify.

“If he gets on the stand, it’ll be against my advice,” Kuhn said. “It’s purely the defendant’s choice.”

Kuhn said the defense will begin putting on the first of its witnesses today and that testimony will focus on the interstate trips Alamo is accused of taking with young girls for sexual purposes.

The government is expected to rest its case this morning after playing excerpts of recordings from Alamo’s jailhouse conversations.

The 74-year-old is facing a 10-count federal indictment. A conviction could mean as many as 30 years for three counts, up to 15 years on three others and up to 10 years on four.

If Alamo is found guilty, U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes will sentence him and has the option of ordering him to serve the sentences consecutively, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Plumlee.

That means Alamo could receive 175 years in federal prison.

Monday, FBI Special Agent Randall Harris told the jury his agency first began investigating Alamo and his ministry in 2006. Other witnesses testified they’d been interviewed by state authorities or FBI in other states in 2001 and 2003.

Kuhn questioned the time lag between law enforcement’s awareness of alleged criminal conduct and Alamo’s arrest.

Harris said he could speak only for the FBI.

Kuhn asked Harris if he’d told the five Jane Does, all of whom claim to have been married to Alamo as minors, what to say in court.

“In a manner of speaking,” Harris said. “I told them to tell the truth because no matter what they ask you, or how they ask a question, the truth is always the truth.”

Harris also testified about items found in Alamo’s Fouke, Ark., residence when it was searched Sept. 20, 2008.

Although the bottle of Viagra found in Alamo’s bathroom was prescribed to Tommy Scarcello, prosecutor Kyra Jenner elicited testimony alluding that it was Alamo who used the drug.

Scarcello is a high-ranking member of Alamo’s organization who lives in Fort Smith, Ark., Harris said.

Witness after witness testified that men were rarely allowed in Alamo’s residence, were never allowed to spend the night and would not have had access to his bathroom.

Harris said a Polaroid camera and film were also discovered in Alamo’s lavatory, though pictures the Jane Does claim he kept of them were not recovered during the raid. Jane Doe No. 2 testified last week Alamo would destroy the photos at times for fear of authorities.

Also to testify Monday was a woman who said she worked as a bookkeeper in Alamo’s organization.

Armenia Rodriguez said that as Alamo instructed her and other ministry administrators to cook the books for Action Distributors, one of the church’s businesses that had “made too much money that year,” 8-year-old Jane Doe No. 2 stroked Alamo’s legs.

Rodriguez said that when Alamo noticed her expression, he said, “Do you think I’m not a man of the Lord, that I’m doing something dirty?”

Also testifying Monday was a lifelong member who said she ran away from the church at 15 after being caught using a phone without “authorization” for the second time in several weeks.

Nicole Farr said she feared a beating because Alamo had smashed her face into a bookshelf after catching her the first time.

“I knew to stay away from the highway because they’d be looking for me,” Farr testified.

She said she ran through woods near the 15-acre Fouke outpost for five hours before chancing upon a house where she was able to get help.

“I was taught he was a man of God, one of the two witnesses and that what he said came from God,” Farr said. “He was the ruler over everything.”

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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