4/7/09 – Lawyer added to Alamo defense team

Texarkana Gazette
April 7, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Lawyer added to Alamo defense team

A third lawyer was added Monday to Tony Alamo’s defense team.

Houston, Texas, attorney Don Ervin joins Danny Davis of California and Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, is scheduled for trial next month in the Western District of Arkansas’ Texarkana division.

The 74-year-old is facing a 10-count federal indictment alleging he brought young girls across state lines for sex. Ervin was part of the team that represented televangelist Jim Bakker after his sentencing for television fraud. Ervin worked with Alan Dershowitz on Bakker’s appeal. Bakker and his wife, Tammy Faye, were well known for their PTL, Praise The Lord, religious station.

Neither Ervin nor Davis, Alamo’s lead criminal defense attorney, could be reached for comment Monday evening.

The Beverly Hills attorney is best known for his work defending Raymond Buckey in the McMartin preschool molestation trial. Buckey, along with the school’s owner and other employees, was accused of sexual misconduct with hundreds of young children.

Buckey was ultimately acquitted and a television movie was made in which James Woods played Davis.
Harrelson said he expects to meet with Ervin later this week. “At this point we haven’t determined exactly what everyone’s role is going to be,” Harrelson said of himself, Davis and Ervin. “But Mr. Davis is still lead counsel.”

Alamo still needs to find at least one more lawyer.

Last month, after Alamo replaced him with Davis in the criminal case, Little Rock attorney John Wesley Hall, Jr., also withdrew as the church leader’s lawyer in a civil suit filed by two former members. U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes, in whose court both the criminal and civil cases are pending, gave Alamo 30 days March 18 to find a new attorney to represent him in the civil case.

Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, both 18-year-old men who once lived on ministry property, allege they were starved, beaten and forced to work unpaid.

Alamo and John Kolbek, a fugitive, are named as defendants in the suit. Kolbek is currently wanted by Sebastian County authorities for Calagna’s alleged beating in Fort Smith, Ark. and federal officials issued a warrant for him for unlawful flight from prosecution.

In California Monday, Alamo follower Douglas Christopher was given a new court date to appear on 21-year-old child abuse charges. He is accused of helping hold 12-year-old Justin Miller as he was beaten on church property in California.

Christopher, who authorities believe is actually Matthew Rehn, has been unable to post bond on his $100,000 bail and remains locked up in California. He returns to court April 30.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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