Alamo defense granted access to documents
Over the objections of prosecutors, a federal judge on Tuesday said Tony Alamo should have immediate access to documents related to the search of Alamo’s religious compound in southwest Arkansas.
The Sept. 20 search in Fouke involved more than 100 federal and state police officers and child protective services caseworkers. It resulted in the removal of six girls, ages 10 to 17, who authorities say were sexually or physically abused and who are now in foster care. Alamo, 74, was arrested in Arizona five days later on charges that he transported a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activity.
Prosecutors filed the search warrant and supporting documents under seal, citing the need to protect an ongoing FBI investigation.
But Alamo’s attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr., said in a court filing that he needed the documents to help him prepare for a hearing today on whether Alamo should be released on bond.
While the ruling gives Hall access to the documents, they remain off-limits to the public. Under an earlier ruling from Bryant, they will remain sealed until at least Nov. 24.
Prosecutors Fight Alamo Attempt To Get Documents
TEXARKANA — Prosecutors said Tuesday giving Tony Alamo early access to evidence against him would interfere with the child-sex investigation continuing as Alamo seeks his freedom until a trial.
“The defendant makes no specific showing or even allegation as to how the search warrant materials requested in his motion would help him prepare for the detention hearing in this case,” wrote Western District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney Robert Balfe.
Balfe said in the motion one reason the search warrant and other material were filed under seal was the possibility of retaliation against witnesses.
“That possibility still exists at the time of the filing of this motion, and the compelling need that accompanies that possibility is for the United States to warn these witnesses and allow them adequate time to prepare for possible retaliation,” Balfe wrote.
Also, he said more charges are possible and the release could hurt the investigation.
“There are other ongoing investigations involving other possible co-defendants or defendants in unrelated charges that could be jeopardized by an early disclosure of these materials to the defendant,” Balfe wrote.
Hall said he is not asking for the information to be unsealed for public access, at least until after he sees it. He is also requesting information from a government visit to an Alamo ministries property in Santa Clarita, Calif.
Alamo seeks search warrant material
TEXARKANA, Ark. – Evangelist Tony Alamo, accused of transporting a minor across state lines for sex, is seeking documents that detail evidence the government has against him ahead of a Wednesday hearing on whether he can be released from custody pending trial.
Alamo is charged in federal court with violating the Mann Act, which prohibits children being moved from one state to another for sexual purposes. He also faces a count of aiding abetting the violation.
In a court filing Monday, Alamo attorney John Wesley Hall Jr. said the search warrant served Sept. 20 at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke was based on the assumption that child pornography would be found. Hall says agents did not find any porn. However, the state removed six teenage girls from the compound because authorities concluded the children were at risk of harm.
Alamo is an advocate of allowing girls to marry when they reach puberty but has denied such unions took place within his organization.
After Alamo’s arraignment last Friday, Hall said Alamo could be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet and could be ordered to stay at the Fouke compound. He said he’ll argue that Alamo is not a flight risk. Alamo was arrested Sept. 25 in Flagstaff, Ariz. He is now being held in the federal prison at Texarkana.
Hall also complains in the filing that the child pornography allegation has gotten wide notice because it was contained in a government e-mail that was mistakenly sent to media before the raid. Agents moved up the date of the raid because the secret investigation had been revealed and they had to act quickly.