4/16/2013 – TG: Judge: Six Alamo properties can be sold to help satisfy judgment

Texarkana Gazette
April 16, 2013
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette

Judge: Six Alamo properties can be sold to help satisfy judgment

A federal judge ruled Monday six properties associated with imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo can be sold to partially satisfy a $30 million judgment owed to two former members of Alamo’s controversial ministry.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant found the real estate sought has been under the complete control of Tony Alamo.

“He chose the name Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and made the decision to change the name of the church on Windsor Drive from Gloryland Christian Church to TACM. … He made decisions regarding the operations of the church without any input from other members,” Bryant’s order states. “He also made the decisions to actually purchase property.”

A jury found Alamo guilty of battery, conspiracy and outrage at the end of a jury trial in a lawsuit filed by Texarkana lawyer David Carter on behalf of Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna. Alamo owes each man $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the abuses they suffered as children raised in Alamo Ministries.

Alamo is serving a 175-year federal sentence assessed him by a jury in a 2009 criminal trial for bringing women he wed as children across state lines for sex.

Carter and Irving, Texas, lawyer Neil Smith argued earlier at a hearing this month that the properties they seek to sell were held in the names of Alamo loyalists, including Steve Johnson, as part of a scheme to avoid such judgments by Alamo. Johnson is listed as an owner on all six of the properties Carter and Neil seek to liquidate as partial recompense for Alamo’s debt to Ondrisek and Calagna.

Typically, the names of one or two followers are placed on a deed. At the same time, the members listed sign blank quitclaim deeds kept in the Alamo Ministries office.

If a property-owning member falls from Alamo’s grace, the quit-claim deed is backdated and filed, transfering ownership to a member in good standing.

“The complex and fraudulent scheme designed to insulate Alamo from judgments is unraveling,” Carter said. “We know who participated in the scheme and will continue make sure it is completely exposed.”

In excerpts from depositions of Johnson discussed at a hearing April 2, Johnson claims no ownership of the properties and claims they belong either to Alamo or Alamo Ministries.

Alamo’s lawyer, John Rogers of Clayton, Mo., argued at the hearing the properties actually belong to the ministry, not Johnson or Alamo.

“Plaintiffs argue Tony Alamo Christian Ministries is merely a fiction,” Bryant’s order states. “Defendant (Tony Alamo) argues this property is being held for TACM or the individual members of TACM.”

Bryant’s order points out an unincorporated entity, such as Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, cannot own property under Arkansas law.

Bryant’s order directs Carter and Smith to coordinate with the U.S. Marshals Office and file a proposed order for the sale of the properties within 10 days.

“We will move swiftly to coordinate with the U.S. Marshals Office to have the properties sold,” Carter said.

The six Fort Smith, Ark., properties sought in the writ include the church building, a gym building, a warehouse, a restaurant parking lot, a restaurant and a residential house. Smith and Carter are only seeking to take Johnson’s interest in the properties at this point in the litigation.

In: 2013, Breaking News

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  1. Dyann Says:

    Hahahaha! Doh! Thank you Lynn ;-)

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