9/30/08 – Local lawyer on Alamo’s defense team

Texarkana Gazette
September 30, 2008
By: Lynn LaRowe

Local lawyer on Alamo’s defense team

Two Little Rock lawyers and one from Texarkana will make up the defense team for Tony Alamo when he goes to court on charges he transported minors across state lines for sexual purposes.

“He denies everything and we’re going to put the government to its proof. He’s not pleading to anything,” said lead defense attorney John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock. “I met with Pastor Alamo in jail this morning (Monday) in Arizona and we’re already interviewing witnesses.”

Hall’s partner, Patrick Benca, and Texarkana attorney Jeff Harrelson also will be working on Alamo’s behalf, Hall said.

“Based on my preliminary assessment, I figure we need at least three lawyers at this time,” he said.

The FBI arrested Alamo last week in Flagstaff, Ariz. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant of the Western District of Arkansas signed a warrant for Alamo’s arrest based on allegations he violated the Mann Act.

The Mann Act prevents the transfer of minors across state lines for criminal purposes. Alamo is accused of doing so for the purpose of sexual activity, according to a media release issued last week by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas.

Alamo’s arrest came less than a week after a surprise search of his Fouke, Ark., compound on the evening of Sept. 20. The following day, about 1:30 a.m., officials also searched an Alamo compound in the Saugus community of Santa Clarita, Calif. No children were located on the California compound.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services removed six girls, ranging in age from 10 to 17, from the Fouke compound.

Custody hearings were held for the girls Friday and Monday. All six remain in foster care.

Officials won’t say when Alamo will be brought back to Arkansas to face the charges against him. He appeared Friday before a federal judge in Arizona. He waived his right then to preliminary and detention hearings.

Preliminary hearings are only an option for defendants who haven’t been formally indicted by a grand jury. The government must prove that probable cause exists to charge someone at a preliminary hearing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to say whether Alamo has been formally indicted by a grand jury. A federal grand jury convenes today and Wednesday in Fort Smith.

Defendants can ask for detention hearings if they want to request a release from jail while the criminal case against them proceeds through court. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey of Arizona detained Alamo last week because he is considered a danger to the community and a flight risk, the news release issued last week stated.

No hearings have been scheduled in Alamo’s case in the Western District of Arkansas. The federal judges likely to preside include Bryant and U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes. The hearings will beheld in the third-floor federal courtroom on the Arkansas side of Texarkana’s Downtown Post Office.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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