Lawyer has 90 days to find alleged Alamo enforcer
LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge has given a lawyer who filed a civil lawsuit against Tony Alamo 90 days to find a man alleged to have worked as an enforcer for the jailed evangelist.
U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes issued an order Wednesday setting the deadline for finding John Erwin Kolbeck.
The lawsuit by Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek names Kolbeck and Alamo as defendants. The suit claims the two suffered beatings and abuse as teenagers in the church by Kolbeck on Alamo’s orders. The two are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Teens given longer time to serve suit
A judge’s ruling Wednesday gives two teenagers an extra three months to find the man they say beat them while they were members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and serve him with a copy of their lawsuit.
But the teenagers’ attorney, W. David Carter of Texarkana, Texas, said he doesn’t expect to wait that long to move forward with the lawsuit, which seeks damages against the ministry’s leader, Tony Alamo, and John Kolbeck, whom authorities have identified as Alamo’s “enforcer.”
If he can’t find Kolbeck in the next month, Carter said, he’ll ask U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes for permission to serve Kolbeck by publishing a notice of the lawsuit in newspapers in Texarkana and Fort Smith. Kolbeck would have 30 days after the notice is published to respond or risk having a judgment entered for the teenagers by default.
“Since he’s on the run and not going to show himself, apparently, voluntarily, that’s typically the best way to get reasonable notice to them that they’ve been sued,” Carter said.
In the lawsuit, Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, who were both 18 when the suit was filed in November, say Kolbeck, 49, beat them with a board, at the direction of Alamo, on multiple occasions while they were in the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Fouke and Fort Smith. Both teenagers left the ministry last year.
Kolbeck is wanted on a second-degree battery charge in a beating that police say Calagna received at a ministry warehouse in Fort Smith last year and on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is being sought by the FBI, Fort Smith police and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Under federal court rules, the teenagers had until March 25 to serve Kolbeck with the suit. In January, Carter asked the judge for the deadline to be extended by four months, saying the teenagers hoped Kolbeck “will be apprehended by law enforcement officials during that time and will be available for personal service of process.”
In an order Wednesday, Barnes extended the deadline, but by a month less than Carter had requested.