8/21/13 – TG: Hearing expected to focus on Tony Alamo properties

Texarkana Gazette
August 21, 2013
By Lynn LaRowe Best – Texarkana Gazette

Hearing expected to focus on Tony Alamo properties

A federal judge is expected to address motions concerning properties associated with Tony Alamo at a hearing early next month. In July, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant scheduled a hearing to address a writ of execution he signed previously giving the go-ahead to sell six properties to partially satisfy a $30 million judgment owed by Alamo to two men raised in Alamo’s controversial ministry.

Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna are owed $3 million each in actual damages and $12 million each in punitive damages. Alamo is serving a 175-year federal prison sentence for bringing five women he wed as children across state lines for sex.

Earlier this year, Bryant found that the properties, which are held in the names of loyal Alamo followers, are actually bought, sold and used at Alamo’s direction and for his benefit. Ondrisek’s and Calagna’s lawyers, David Carter of Texarkana and Neil Smith of Irving, Texas, argued at earlier hearings that Alamo uses a “quitclaim scheme” to attempt to shield assets. The properties are placed in the names of loyal followers who immediately sign a quitclaim deed that is left undated and held in the ministry’s office.

If a member falls from grace, the deed is dated, notarized and filed, transferring ownership to a member in good standing with Alamo. Alamo has denied an ownership interest in the properties.

Since Bryant signed the writ of execution, a large number of Alamo followers have claimed ownership of the properties with the help of Clayton, Mo., lawyer Patrick Kilgore. Besides filing claims in the Ondrisek and Calagna federal case, Kilgore has filed an action in state court in Sebastian County, Ark., where the properties are, asking that the properties be declared owned by the ministry or collectively by its members.

Carter and Smith filed a motion in federal court asking the defendants be kept from trying to get a state court to intervene in an action over which a federal court has already asserted jurisdiction. An Aug. 13 docket entry in Ondrisek and Calagna’s case notes Bryant intends to hear arguments on the writ of execution and the request for an order prohibiting state court action at the hearing September hearing.

Bryant is expected to hear arguments from both sides in an Arkansas-side courtroom in Texarkana’s downtown federal building at 10 a.m. Sept. 6. In his July order, Bryant noted anyone with a claim to the properties should appear or risk dismissal of their claim.

The properties at issue include the church building, a gym building, a residential house, a restaurant, a restaurant parking lot and a warehouse in Fort Smith, Ark.

Carter and Smith have filed requests to sell additional properties in Miller and Sebastian counties that have not been addressed by the court to date. The U.S. government has also filed documents seeking the sale of a large number of properties associated with Alamo it hopes to use to satisfy the $500,000 in restitution owed to each of the five victims listed in Alamo’s criminal case.

In: 2013, Breaking News

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