9/15/09 – TG: Convicted child abuser Alamo has sentencing date set

Texarkana Gazette
September 15, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Sentencing date set for Alamo

Convicted child sex abuser Tony Alamo will appear for sentencing in his criminal case next month.

U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes has scheduled the hearing for Oct. 23. It will be held on the Arkansas side of Texarkana’s downtown federal building.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, was convicted July 24 of 10 counts of bringing young girls across state lines for sex. The controversial ministry leader faces 175 years if sentenced to serve the maximum on each count consecutively.

At the federal level, courts usually follow established guidelines when determining punishment.

Alamo’s previous felony conviction for tax evasion, his lack of cooperation with authorities and the nature of the crimes he committed are likely to be factors that may push the recommendation prosecutors make away from the low end of the sentencing guidelines.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Plumlee said his office can’t comment on what the suggestion for Alamo’s sentence will be.

The five Jane Does listed in Alamo’s indictment testified they were made to marry the “prophet” as children. The youngest of Alamo’s brides, Jane Doe no. 2, was 8 when she exchanged vows with her pastor.

She is now 18. Alamo will turn 75 on Sunday.

Witnesses and former followers have described Alamo as exercising absolute control over his flock. Forced fasts, beatings, daily religious services, isolation from the outside world and long hours of work as volunteers were part of the routine.

In an interview with the Texarkana Gazette the week following his conviction, Alamo said he doesn’t care if Barnes sentences him to “200 years or 2,000” because he’s now part of an “exclusive club” of prophets who’ve gone to jail for the gospel.

The “world prophet” who once designed rhinestone-studded apparel for Hollywood stars has spent almost a year occupying a cramped, one-man cell in the Bowie County Correctional Center in downtown Texarkana. After sentencing, officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons will determine where Alamo will be housed.

Shortly after the jury’s verdict was read, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner, one of Alamo’s prosecutors, said she believes Alamo will “… spend the rest of his natural life in prison.”

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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