Tony Alamo is a fugitive on the run

1989-10-09 - Arkansas Democrat - Alamo on the run
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Arkansas Democrat
October 9, 1989

Alamo On The Run

Fundamentalist, preacher Tony Alamo on Sunday failed to make good on his claim that he would turn himself into federal authorities over the week end.

A spokesman for Alamo, the Arkansas-based fugitive wanted by the FBI on child abuse charges in California, told the Arkansas Democrat on Saturday that Alamo wanted to surrender in Florida either Saturday or Sunday. But he said the preacher feared the FBI would kill him.

On Sunday, another Alamo spokesman said the FBI approved Alamo’s reasons for putting off his surrender.

Alamo, an eccentric 54-year-old multimillionaire and former administrator of a conservative religious empire, has gained notoriety over the years for his claims that the federal government is a puppet of the Roman Catholic Church.

“The reason Tony Alamo has not turned himself in yet is the FBI in Los Angeles gave Tony Alamo several days to turn himself into California,” said Steve Lovette, a Fort Smith associate of Alamo’s who read Sunday from a prepared statement.

“They said that it would be all right for Tony to travel to California so that he would not have to spend so many days in jail.”

“If he were to turn himself in Florida he would have to sit in jail for 20 days for extradition and he didn’t want to do that,” said Lovette, speaking from Alamo headquarters near Alma (Crawford County). “They said it’s all right to come in to California and turn himself in to California.”

But a spokesman for the FBI bureau in Jacksonville, Fla., which has been contacted by Alamo representatives, said Sunday he knew of no such dialogue between the FBI and Alamo.

“All I know is we’ve heard the individual claimed he was going to surrender and I don’t know anything beyond that,” said the spokesman.

The charges Alamo faces stem from an investigation triggered by an interview of a child removed by court order from an Alamo compound in Orange County, Calif.

The compound was raided by police March 31, but they could find no trace of him. Four men were arrested during the raid, however, and several people were detained on unrelated charges ranging from probation violations to traffic warrants.

The FBI became involved in the case after Alamo fled California.

Alamo, born, in Joplin, Mo., founded his church in California in 1969 and moved its headquarters to Crawford County, Ark., in 1975. It originally served as a street-corner ministry to assist drug addicts and the homeless.
Together, Alamo and one of his former wives, Susan, created a religious empire. Critics said it was a cult-business erected on the backs of its members, who provided free labor in exchange for housing, food and clothing.

At its height, the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation owned dozens of businesses, including nationally recognized clothing store at Nashville, Tenn., a restaurant at Alma and numerous construction and service-related companies.

The empire began to crumble after Susan Alamo died of cancer in 1982. The Internal Revenue Service revoked the organizations tax exempt status in 1985. Alamo lost a number of court battles that could force him to pay back wages and taxes totaling millions of dollars.

Several of his Crawford County businesses have been closed or sold but his property holdings are still valued in excess of $4 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

In: 1980-1989

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