Evangelist Is Given 6-Year Prison Term

The evangelist Tony Alamo, whose church once ran businesses worth millions of dollars, has drawn a maximum sentence of six years in prison on an income tax conviction.

Mr. Alamo, 59, was convicted in June in Federal District Court here for understating his income in 1985 and failing to file tax returns from 1986 through 1988. He was sentenced on Friday by Judge Jon McCalla, who also levied a fine of $210,000.

Mr. Alamo formed a ministry for drug abusers and the homeless more than 20 years ago that eventually grew into a multimillion-dollar enterprise with a string of businesses, primarily in Arkansas, Tennessee and California.

The prosecutor, Christopher Belcher, said the businesses had earned more than $9 million over four years.

He lived lavishly while many of his followers worked for church businesses for subsistence wages or no pay at all, Mr. Belcher said.

Mr. Alamo said the businesses, which included an Arkansas hog farm and a clothing store in Nashville, supplied money he needed to spread the Gospel and feed and clothe his followers.

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This post was last updated: Saturday, December 23, 2006 at 2:13 PM, Central European Time (CET)