2/8/14 – TG: Alamo followers testify in hearing over property sales ***COMMENTS*** Photo added

Texarkana Gazette
February 8, 2014
By: Lynn LaRowe – Texarkana Gazette

Alamo followers testify in hearing over property sales

Staff photo by Evan Lewis The parents of Seth Calagna, one of two men owed a $30 million judgment by Tony Alamo, walk with other Alamo loyalists into the federal courthouse Wednesday for a hearing concerning properties in Fouke, Texarkana and Fort Smith, Ark.

Staff photo by Evan Lewis The parents of Seth Calagna, one of two men owed a $30 million judgment by Tony Alamo, walk with other Alamo loyalists into the federal courthouse Wednesday for a hearing concerning properties in Fouke, Texarkana and Fort Smith, Ark.

A federal judge heard from more than 20 followers of Tony Alamo on Wednesday at a hearing to address properties in Fouke, Texarkana and Fort Smith, Ark., that a federal judge previously ordered can be sold to partially satisfy a $30 million civil judgment Alamo owes.

Lawyers for Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek, two men who were beaten, starved and denied education as children raised in the ministry questioned a bevy of Alamo loyalists who claim the properties at issue really belong to the members of Tony Alamo Ministries, not Tony Alamo, as U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant ruled previously.

Seventy-eight Alamo loyalists filed claims to the 11 parcels of real estate at issue. Of those, only 26 answered questionnaires the court sent to the claimants. Of those 26, only 24 showed for Wednesday’s hearing. Bryant said he will consider all 78 of the claims but asked if the members claiming ownership interest present at Wednesday’s hearing wanted to add to their answers. Most did.

Seth Calagna’s mother, Barbara Calagna, vehemently condemned the judgment her son stands to collect.

“He had gotten so angry at another child,” Barbara Calagna said. “That’s why he was spanked. He doesn’t deserve to be rewarded.”

Bryant told Barbara Calagna the case has already been decided by a jury and that comments about the facts of the case are irrelevant to the property issue. Alamo was found guilty of conspiracy, battery and outrage in the civil case filed on behalf of Ondrisek and Seth Calagna by Texarkana lawyer David Carter. Each man is presently owed $15 million, and Carter and Neil Smith of Irving, Texas, hope the property sales will help satisfy what the men have coming.

Anthony Calagna, Seth Calagna’s father, testified that he was kicked out of the group multiple times by Alamo.

“It was Tony who said, ‘You’re outta here,’ and it was Tony Alamo who approved you coming back?” Carter asked Tony Calagna.

“Yes,” Calagna replied.

Anthony Calagna admitted he was never asked to leave the group by any other person and that Alamo had the final say when it came to who could stay or be kicked out of the communal living system.

All of the members who testified lamented that they have put their life’s work, labor, money and time into the ministry collectively and that if the properties are sold, they’ll have no means of support and no place to live.

“I don’t follow Tony Alamo. I follow Jesus Christ,” said member Alan Johnson. “The church has guaranteed they’ll take care of us the rest of our lives. If they take this property away from me, I’ll have nothing.”

Johnson said he joined the ministry in 1972 as a young man and has contributed labor and time to it since.

“The body of Christ owns the property,” Johnson said. “We (the church members) are the body of Christ. … I shouldn’t have my rights taken away because I don’t have some paperwork.”

Anna Marie Moan, who said she joined Alamo’s followers at age 18 in 1972 after being raised in “the Catholic cult,” told Bryant she hopes all people will follow Alamo’s teachings and escape “the pits of hell like us.”

Alamo is serving a 175-year federal prison sentence for bringing five women he wed as children across state lines for sex.

Albert Krantz, whose parental rights to six children were terminated because he refuses to find work and housing outside Alamo’s ministry, joined the controversial group in 1972, he tesitified.

“I was on drugs. I was a thief. I was a liar,” Krantz said. “These houses that are being taken away are being taken away from widows. … Now they will be a burden on the state.”

All the members who testified agreed Alamo has the final say on who stays and goes in the church and where those who live on properties he controls get to reside and that if they are kicked out of the group by Alamo, their communal right to property ownership goes with them.

The properties currently at issue include six in Miller County: a church and gym complex, a gym and several residences in Fouke, Ark., as well as a house on Locust Street in Texarkana, Ark. Others ordered by Bryant for sale include five in Fort Smith: an apartment complex, a playground area next to the apartments, a warehouse, a house, lots next to the apartment complex and a mechanic’s shop.

Other testimony centered on mechanic’s liens some members recently filed against six properties up for sale in a previous writ. Some of those properties were sold while a hold was court-ordered on some because of the mechanics liens. Several who testified admitted that they had never contracted with the church to be paid for their work and created invoices seeking monetary amounts only after the court’s ruling in November, which determined members had no standing to assert ownership claims in the first six properties to be sold.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathon Ross addressed the court concerning the government’s forfeiture proceedings against six of the properties. He indicated the forfeiture proceedings would remain in place pending Judge Bryant’s ruling on this group of properties.

Judge Bryant indicated he would rule within the next two weeks.

In: 2014, Breaking News

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  1. Rocky Hagan Says:

    The cult has money stashed away, no doubt about it, I know those truck loads and warehouses full of stuff that they sold and got for free from a supposed to be nonprofit charity organization that is really 100% profit made them billions, when I was a kid I rode on there trucks and witnessed there drivers selling loads for 40,000 dollars and also rode in a van with a member that had a duffel bag full of money, so if they want to say these properties is all they have I wouldn’t believe them!

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