10/22/08 – Alamo due in court for detention hearing

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October 22, 2008

Alamo due in court for detention hearing

TEXARKANA, Ark. – A federal judge has granted the early release of documents to Tony Alamo, after the evangelist’s attorney argued that seeing evidence about a raid in Fouke was necessary to prepare for a detention hearing.

Alamo’s attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr., planned to argue that his client should be released from prison pending trial. Alamo, 74, is now being held at a federal prison in Texarkana. He is accused of taking a minor across state lines for sex.

The detention hearing was set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Texarkana.

In an order Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant granted Hall’s request for access to documents related to the September raid at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke. Earlier, Bryant ordered that prosecutors release the documents by Oct. 27.

“There is no readily apparent reason not to disclose the search warrant materials to (Alamo) prior to the detention hearing, rather than five days later,” Bryant wrote in his order.

The search warrant and other documents remained under seal.

In a court filing Monday, Hall said the search warrant was based on the assumption that child pornography would be found. Hall says agents did not find any porn. However, the state removed six teenage girls from the compound because authorities concluded the children were at risk of harm.

Alamo is an advocate of allowing girls to marry when they reach puberty but has denied such unions took place within his organization.

In opposing the request, U.S. Attorney Robert Balfe said that one reason the search warrant and other materials were filed under seal was the possibility of retaliation against witnesses.

“That possibility still exists at the time of the filing of this motion, and the compelling need that accompanies that possibility is for the United States to warn these witnesses and allow them adequate time to prepare for possible retaliation,” Balfe wrote.

Also, he said more charges are possible and the release could hurt the investigation.

“There are other ongoing investigations involving other possible co-defendants or defendants in unrelated charges that could be jeopardized by an early disclosure of these materials to the defendant,” Balfe wrote.

After Alamo’s arraignment last Friday, Hall said Alamo could be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet and could be ordered to stay at the Fouke compound. He said he’ll argue that Alamo is not a flight risk. Alamo was arrested Sept. 25 in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Alamo, who is listed in court documents by his real name of Bernie Lazar Hoffman, has pleaded not guilty to the two charges, each of which carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The charging document accuses Alamo of taking a 13-year-old girl across state lines for sex in 2004 and of aiding and abetting her transport across state lines for sex in 2005.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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