Alamo promises to pay $5 million to satisfy wages owed to Foundation members

Southwest Times Record
June 16, 1992
By Dave Hughes

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FAYETTEVILLE – – Evangelist Tony Alamo on Monday promised a U.S. District Court judge he would pay $5 million by mid-1994 after once complaining he couldn’t comply with court orders to pay employees back wages.

Attorneys for Alamo signed a consent judgment saying Alamo will pay $2 million by Sept. 1 and make six quarterly payments of $500,000 each from March 31 to June 30, 1994, to satisfy his debt to the Labor Department.

The payments will mark an end to the department’s 15-year battle against Alamo over demands he pay minimum wages and overtime to foundation employees who worked at foundation businesses.

During the long life of the lawsuit, Alamo was declared in contempt of court for fleeing without paying the judgments in the case. He was captured July 5 in Florida, returned to Arkansas and was released on $250,000 bond in October. He said Monday he was living in Los Angeles.

Talking to reporters outside the federal courthouse here Monday, Alamo said he didn’t believe he owed the $5 million but said he decided to agree to the judgment to stay out of jail.

‘I don’t feel we owe it but I don’t want to go to jail.” Alamo said.

“There comes a point in time where you have to accept what has happened, right or wrong, and move on,” his attorney, Jeffrey Dickstein, said. Moving on means getting Alamo back into a ministry and business. Dickstein said he and his client hope that will raise money to pay off some of the debt.

The judgment says the motions for a bench warrant and contempt of court citation will be dismissed and the Labor Department’s claims against Alamo will be satisfied if Alamo makes the payments as set down in the judgment.

The judgment says Alamo “shall pay” to the Labor Department $2 million from the proceeds of selling three plots of foundation real estate in Saugus, Calif.

Dickstein said Monday the three parcels still were under liens by the internal Revenue Service and Pete Georgiades, an attorney for the Miller family, former Alamo foundation members who sued Alamo in 1988. When asked how he would get around the liens to sell the land, Dickstein said the land was worth more than the liens against it. He would sell the land, satisfy the liens and use the rest of the money for the judgment payment.

Dickstein said getting clear control of the Saugus land would be his next order of business.

To raise the other $3 million, Dickstein said, Alamo would form Tony Alamo Enterprises Inc. According to the judgment, Tony Alamo Enterprises Inc. “shall assume the assets and liabilities of Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation, Music Square Church Inc and Twentieth Century Holiness Tabernacle Inc.”

Those entities, U.S District Judge Morris Arnold has ruled, were alter egos of Alamo and his foundation.

Alamo said the only source of money he had as of Monday was the Alamo Defense Fund, formed to raise money for his legal defense since his capture. He said the fund emptied as soon as any money went into it because of his heavy legal expenses.

When asked when Alamo may begin opening up businesses again, Dickstein said he would not allow Alamo to work until he clears up IRS and other liens that would attach any Alamo income. He acknowledged it would be difficult to overcome the IRS liens and raise $3 million. But the only thing Dickstein could do is try to remove the legal barriers arrayed against his client, he said.

He wanted to remove the barriers, Dickstein said, because Alamo is good at raising money.

In 1977, the Labor Department took Alamo and his Foundation to court for not paying minimum wages and overtime to associates who worked at foundation businesses. In finding against the foundation, the court awarded $266,000 in back wages to some foundation employees who testified in the trial.

Ending another legal fray, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered in January that non-testifying foundation associates who worked at foundation businesses be paid more than $4.8 million.

Monday’s judgment ended the oldest case against Alamo but there are others pending:

• The lawsuit of six members of the Miller family who sued Alamo for allegedly breaking up their family when they were foundation members, and for ordering the paddling of one of the children in a public display of punishment at the foundation’s Saugus compound.
The Millers were awarded more than $2 million against Alamo and his foundation and other holdings were broken up and sold at auction to satisfy the judgment.

• Related to the beating, a criminal child abuse charge pending against Alamo in Los Angeles.

• A lawsuit in Crawford County Chancery Court by Christhiaon Coie, trying to force Alamo to turn over to her the body of Susan Alamo, Coie’s mother and Alamo’s wife.
Alamo successfully defended himself in September when a U.S. District Court jury in Fort Smith acquitted him of a criminal charge of threatening a federal judge.

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