6/28/13 – TG: Alamo’s lawyer says FBI affidavit is speculation on property holders

Texarkana Gazette
June 28, 2013
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette

Alamo’s lawyer says FBI affidavit is speculation on property holders

In a response opposing the government’s bid to seize 27 properties associated with Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, Tony Alamo’s lawyer argues three points.

John Rogers of Clayton, Mo., first takes issue with an affidavit penned by FBI Special Agent Timmy Akins attached to a writ of execution seeking forfeiture of properties in Texarkana, Fouke and Fort Smith, Ark.

“Whether or not Special Agent Akins believes in these generalities as a matter of his personal opinion, they are factually false and are based solely in speculation on his part and/or hearsay accounts by individuals with no personal knowledge of the matter asserted,” the response filed Wednesday states.

In the FBI affidavit, Akins describes Alamo Ministries’ practice of frequently transferring ownership of properties from the name of one follower to another by use of undated quit claim deeds.

When property is placed in the name of one or more Alamo loyalists, the listed owner signs a quit claim deed, which is left undated and kept in the ministry office.

If a member listed as an owner falls from Alamo’s favor, the deed is dated and filed, transferring ownership to a member in good standing.

Akins describes the listed members as “straw owners” and alleges that the properties are actually bought and sold at Alamo’s direction and controlled by Alamo for his benefit and profit.

In a civil suit involving two men raised in the controversial group, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant ruled that properties held in the name of Alamo followers are truly controlled by Alamo. Bryant recently ruled that six properties in Fort Smith can be sold to help satisfy a $30 million judgment owed by Alamo in that civil case.

Rogers denies that Alamo owns or has any interest in the properties in his response.

Rogers also takes a stab at the Federal Debt Collection Procedure Act, which has been used by the government to take assets from a defendant to pay restitution in other cases. Alamo owes $500,000 in restitution to each of the five victims he was found guilty of bringing across state lines for sex while still underage, as well as assessments to the government.

Rogers’ response states that the law can be used to collect debt to the government, but not to third parties, such as victims.

In his final point, Rogers complains that issuing an order permitting seizure of the properties before having a full hearing involving the listed owners is improper.

“Such proceedings would allow government agents to attempt to take property to satisfy restitution awards with impunity, so long as the agent had a good faith (even if totally unreasonable) conviction based on hearsay or speculation that a property really belonged to the defendant, despite its title in another individual,” the response states.

The properties at issue include churches, houses, businesses, an apartment complex, a mechanic shop and more.

A hearing to address the property issue in Alamo’s criminal case hasn’t been set.

Alamo, 78, is serving a 175-year prison term at a federal lockup in Tuscon, Ariz.

In: 2013, Breaking News

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