12/27/08 – Plea bargain allows CD trafficker [Buster White] to attend Alamo religious services

Texarkana Gazette
December 27,2008
By Jim Williamson

Plea bargain allows CD trafficker to attend Alamo religious services

A man described as a former associate minister for the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Fouke, Ark., is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 8 in federal court on charges of trafficking in counterfeit musical compact discs.

Leslie Ray “Buster” White, 58, of Texarkana, Texas, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Folsom in the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division.

White pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to one count of trafficking in counterfeit musical CDs.

The federal court’s probation department has completed a background check on White which delayed the sentencing. White reached a plea bargain agreement with federal prosecutors and was released from custody so he could attend Tony Alamo Christian Ministries religious services in Fouke. That request was part of the plea bargain agreement because Alamo is a convicted felon. When a person is convicted of a felony, federal criminal guidelines restrict their association with other convicted felons, said Folsom.

White asked for the exception through his attorneys, David Botsford of Austin and Texarkana attorney Craig Henry, during the Sept. 2 court proceedings.

Alamo was sentenced to six years in federal prison in September 1994 after he was convicted in U.S. District Court in Memphis of willful failure to file an income tax return.

He was also fined $210,000 and ordered to remain on probation for a year after his release, according to court documents. Alamo ended his federal sentence in the Texarkana, Texas, Federal Correctional Institution and was released in December 1998.

The agreement asks for an exception to the rule and allow White to “attend organized religious church services of Tony Alamo.”

The eight-page plea agreement, signed by White’s attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Jackson, also allowed White to “consult with his minister Tony Alamo.”

White originally pleaded innocent on Oct. 4, 2007 to federal charges of trafficking in 1,475 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes and 1,894 CDs.

The charges were filed after a federal grand jury in Tyler, Texas, indicted White.

He was allegedly selling the shoes and CDs from the Great American Outlet Mall on New Boston Road in Texarkana, Texas.

White told Folsom he had owned the outlet mall for about nine years.

The judge asked why he was entering the plea. White said it was because he was guilty.

White could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. He could also be sentenced to three years of supervised probation after being released from federal prison.

The plea agreement also requires White to pay restitution of $21,775.81 to the Record Industry of America for royalties he failed to pay by selling counterfeit CDs.

He will also be required to pay $6,224.19 to ISC, a private investigation firm used to determine the CD sales. White will also forfeit $28,000 to the federal government.

The FBI conducted the investigation and confiscated about $109,185 in cash from a safe in the Great American Outlet Mall.

Jackson said the payments to the Record Industry of America, ISC and the federal government will be paid from the money the FBI confiscated. The federal government will return about $53,000 to White from the $109,185 originally confiscated.

Jackson said the shoes and CDs were forfeited and have been destroyed by federal authorities.

The investigation started from a “tip to the FBI,” said Jackson.

During appearances at Fouke City Council meetings, White has been referred to as the associate pastor of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. However, Alamo referred to White in radio broadcasts as “just a member” of the ministries.

Since White’s Sept. 2 guilty plea, Alamo has been arrested on federal criminal charges accusing him of bringing minor girls across state lines for sex. Alamo also allegedly engaged in polygamy and is accused of having taken brides as young as 8, according to court documents and testimony from custody hearings concerning children removed recently from ministry properties in Fouke.

Arkansas law does not permit the marriage of girls below the age of 15 or boys below the age of 16.

In: 2000-2007

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