March 19, 2007 – Tony Alamo’s Arm Full of Help Charity Implicated in Katrina Donation Scam; Tommy Scarcello Being Sued

Tony Alamo was convicted in July 2009 of 10 Federal Counts of taking underage girls across state lines for sex and he is now serving 175 years in a federal penitentiary.

Southwest Times Record
March 19, 2007

Katrina Gift Fuels Lawsuit

A high-end mattress maker has brought suit in federal court accusing several groups and individuals of illegally selling more than half of the 8,000 mattresses it donated to aid people hit by Hurricane Katrina.

The other half, the manufacturer believes, are sitting in a Booneville warehouse controlled by several defendants, including one purportedly linked to cult leader and convicted felon Tony Alamo.

In Tempur-Pedic International Inc. v. Waste to Charity Inc. et al, filed last month in U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas, the mattress maker seeks recovery of donated goods it values at $15 million. It also seeks damages for breach of contract by Waste to Charity, and costs and damages relating to fraud by all defendants named in the suit.

The Lexington, Ky., corporation states in its Feb. 21 amended complaint that between November 2005 and October 2006 it donated mattresses, slippers and pillows for distribution to storm-stricken areas, and it contracted with the Woodbury, N.J., not-for-profit agency to distribute the goods to charitable organizations responding to Hurricane Katrina. The contract expressly prohibited selling the goods or distributing them for sale.
“Defendants, individually and acting in concert, have misappropriated the donated goods, are attempting to sell them for profit, and have continually made misrepresentations regarding their intentions and knowledge regarding the donated goods,” the complaint states.

The parties attended a show-cause hearing March 5 before U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Marschewski, who on March 9 granted Tempur-Pedic’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

The mattress maker’s attorney, Jason T. Browning, said the injunction prohibits all defendants and anyone doing business with them from doing anything to the nearly 3,000 mattresses in the Booneville warehouse.

Besides Waste to Charity, the defendants are the agency’s president, Jack Fitzgerald of Sarasota, Fla.; Broco Supply Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Broco sales representative Eric Volovic of Hershey, Pa.; Howard Hirsch of Harrisburg, Pa.; Thomas Scarcello of Moffett; and Close Out Surplus and Savings Inc. of Roseland, N.J., its owner, Ernest P. Peia of Morris Plains, N.J., and employee Nelson Silva.

According to Tempur-Pedic’s complaint, Volovic contacted an individual who would later be referred to as “the informant” and offered to sell him 3,300 Tempur-Pedic mattresses at drastically reduced prices. Volovic is said to have given the informant a picture of the inventory, which Tempur-Pedic confirmed were the uniquely packaged donated goods.

Some two months later, Volovic negotiated a deal with the informant and a “consultant” posing as the informant’s partner to sell the mattresses — and after a down payment, he divulged that the mattresses were in Booneville, the complaint states.

Local residents know the building as the former Ace Comb factory.

Tempur-Pedic’s complaint states that the property is owned by S. Ast [Sharon Ast-Kroopf-Hoffman (Alamo)] and E. Mercado [Elizabeth Mercado (aka “Lizzy” Gutierrez)], and that its post office box is registered to a supermarket owned by the Tony Alamo Ministries. Alamo, who has lived in the Fouke area since 1998, was convicted of federal income tax evasion in 1994.

“Alamo is a convicted felon and known associate of defendant Scarcello,” Tempur-Pedic’s complaint states.

The mattress maker alleges that Volovic went to the Booneville warehouse on Feb. 5 accompanied by Hirsch, Scarcello and Silva, and that when the consultant counted only 2,650 mattresses, Silva said the missing 350 were in a warehouse in Fort Smith.

While the parties were at the Booneville warehouse, FBI agents arrived and interviewed the four defendants, the complaint states.

Tempur-Pedic also alleges that on Feb. 20, Peia contacted the mattress maker and said that through his company, Close Out Supply and Service, he had purchased 4,000 mattresses for $500,000 payable to Action Distributors, a company operated by Scarcello.

On Wednesday, Broco Supply filed a counterclaim stating that it acted in good faith when it entered into an agreement with Close Out Supply and had no knowledge of Waste to Charity, Fitzgerald or Scarcello.

Broco also claims to have acted in good faith when dealing with Tempur-Pedic’s undercover consultant, only learning later that the “supposed purchaser … was nothing more than a bogus entity acting on behalf of the plaintiff.”

Attorney Browning said Thursday that the parties are in the midst of “pursuing discovery” in preparation for pre-trial planning meeting. A report on that meeting is due June 4. A bench trial before U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson is set for Jan. 7.

In: 2000-2007, Arm Full Of Help, Cult News

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