12/20/2013 – TG: Marshals asked to step in. Motion accuses Alamo followers of gutting property up for auction.

Texarkana Gazette
December 20, 2013
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette

Marshals asked to step in

Motion accuses Alamo followers of gutting property up for auction

Alamo Ministry members are gutting six properties in Fort Smith, Ark., in anticipation of a public sale of them scheduled Jan. 22, a motion filed Wednesday in federal court states.

And lawyers representing those who are supposed to benefit from the sale want the U.S. Marshals Service to put a stop to it.

Six Fort Smith properties: an Alamo Ministries church building, gym, warehouse, restaurant, restaurant parking lot, and a house, were found to be bought and maintained for Alamo’s benefit and profit. This ruling was made by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant in a case involving two men raised in the controversial group.

Bryant ordered the six properties could be sold after granting a writ of execution sought by Texarkana lawyer David Carter and Irving, Texas, lawyer Neil Smith on behalf of Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna.

A jury found that the public beatings, starvation, forced unpaid labor and lack of education directed by Alamo amounted to conspiracy, battery and outrage. The civil jury trial was in Bryant’s court in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas.

“Plaintiffs have received evidence that the properties are being damaged, including but not limited to waste, removal of fixtures, and other forms of property damage, thereby reducing the value of the property.

Specifically, plaintiffs have learned through prospective buyers who repeatedly visit the properties that certain fixtures, for example air conditioning units, are being removed from the properties. Plaintiffs believe that defendants will continue to damage the properties subject to the writ of execution,” the motion states.

Sources close to the ministry said burnings of computer equipment and other digital, data-containing devices have occurred in the recent past as well.

“Accordingly, plaintiff asks the court to order the U.S. Marshals Office to immediately secure the six properties described in the writ…to prevent further removal of fixtures, waste, or any other damage to the six properties to be sold between now and the date of auction,” Carter’s and Smith’s motion states.

Bryant granted the motion to secure the properties the same day it was filed.

“Between now and the date of auction of these properties, the U.S. Marshals Office is ordered to secure the six properties described in the writ…to prevent further removal of fixtures, any further waste, or any other damage to those properties,” Bryant’s order states.

Alamo currently owes Ondrisek and Calagna $15 million each in damages plus interest, which to date remain unpaid.

The properties in Fort Smith being sold are meant to partially satisfy that judgment. A second writ filed by Carter and Smith involving more properties in Fort Smith and Fouke, Ark., is pending.

Alamo, 79, whose given name is Bernie Lazar Hoffman, is currently serving a 175-year term in federal prison for bringing five women he wed as children across state lines for sex.

Carter and Smith are expected to begin arguing a civil case filed on behalf of the victims listed in Alamo’s federal criminal case and other women before a jury in El Dorado, Ark., next month.

In: 2013, Breaking News

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