5/30/13 – TG: Magistrate postpones hearing over properties associated with Alamo

Texarkana Gazette
May 30, 2013
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette

Magistrate postpones hearing over properties associated with Alamo

A hearing scheduled for this morning in federal court in Texarkana to address ownership claims of properties associated with imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo has been canceled.

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant granted a request for a postponement filed Tuesday by Clayton, Mo., lawyer Patrick Kilgore.

Kilgore filed notice the same day that he is now representing 64 Alamo Ministry members who claim joint ownership of six Fort Smith properties that Bryant has given the green light to sell.

On Wednesday morning at the Alamo Ministries compound in Fouke, Ark., just outside of Texarkana, numerous cars and vans filled the church parking lot. The properties have seen little traffic since many members fled in light of orders from Arkansas judges to take the children of Alamo followers into state custody amid allegations of widespread physical and sexual abuse in late 2008.

Last month, Bryant ruled that six properties in Fort Smith, Ark., can be sold to par- tially satisfy a $30 million judgment owed by Alamo to two men, Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek, who were raised in the controversial group. A jury in the civil suit found Alamo guilty of battery, conspiracy and outrage.

Earlier this month, Calagna’s and Ondrisek’s lawyer, David Carter of Texarkana, filed a request for the court’s permission to sell 12 additional Alamo associated parcels in Texarkana, Ark., Fouke and Fort Smith.

Since Bryant granted permission to sell six Fort Smith properties, numerous followers of Tony Alamo have filed claims of ownership in the federal case. All of the claimants were supposed to appear at today’s now canceled hearing. A new date for the hearing hasn’t been set.

Tuesday, Kilgore filed a civil complaint in Sebastian County, Ark., circuit court on behalf of Alamo Ministries and eight Alamo loyalists asking that the state court declare that the six Fort Smith properties and the 12 others being sought by Carter are actually the property of Alamo Ministries or, alternatively, part of a trust making them the property of all ministry members.

In the Sebastian County complaint, Kilgore describes Alamo Ministries as an “unincorporated nonprofit association” that operates under an agreement of its members “for the purposes of spreading the gospel, providing for the needs of its members and performing charitable acts for the benefit of the community.”

Carter said he doesn’t believe Alamo Ministries meets the criteria for a nonprofit.

“We will be filing a motion in the Ondrisek case that explains that this Court has already exercised jurisdiction over the properties, and that the followers who filed the new suit in Fort Smith should not be allowed to proceed with that action,” Carter said.

During Alamo’s criminal trial in July 2009, witnesses testified that Alamo controlled all aspects of life for ministry members, including how much toilet paper they could have, where their children would live and whether they would eat on any given day.

In Bryant’s recent order granting permission to sell the six Fort Smith properties, he found that properties were bought at Alamo’s direction, that ownership was placed in the names of his followers to protect him from financial liability and that the properties were actually held for the benefit and profit of Alamo.

Alamo is serving 175 years in federal prison for bringing women he wed as children across state lines for sex.

Alamo’s lawyer, John Rogers of Clayton, Mo., filed a response Tuesday in opposition to Carter’s motion seeking permission to sell the 12 properties in Texarkana, Fouke and Fort Smith.

Rogers claims that Arkansas law recognizes the right to own property of an unincorporated nonprofit organization.

“After four years of litigation, and as the sale of the properties approaches, the ‘Ministry’ has now morphed into a ‘nonprofit’ association,” Carter said. “We intend to take them out of that business permanently.”

In: 2013, Breaking News

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