Alamo’s lawyer needs more time to prepare
U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes reset Alamo’s trial to begin on May 11. The trial had been scheduled to begin on Feb. 2, but Alamo’s lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. objected to the start date, saying he needed more time to prepare.
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Prosecutors had argued that federal law requires cases involving child witnesses to be expedited.
Alamo, 74, has denied all accusations in the 10-count federal indictment he faces. The pastor remains held without bond pending trial.
A total of 36 juveniles linked to Alamo’s organization have been taken by state Department of Human Services officials since a Sept. 20 raid on the ministry’s Fouke compound.
Ex-Alamo follower gets home detention
TEXARKANA, Texas – A man who once described himself as an associate pastor of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was sentenced Thursday to six months of home detention and two years of probation for selling fake Nikes and CDs with counterfeit labels at his store in Texarkana, Texas.
The charges against Leslie Ray “Buster” White, 58, stem from a March 1, 2007, raid by the FBI on The Great American Outlet Mall, a discount store that sells everything from furniture to toys to canned goods.
Assistant U.S. attorney Alan Jackson said the investigation was sparked by a tip from an investigator with the recording industry or one of the brandname manufacturers. The case wasn’t related to an FBI investigation that led to Alamo’s indictment last year on charges of transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes, Jackson said. Asked whether the store has any connection to the ministry, Jackson said, “I can’t address that.”
Alamo’s name wasn’t mentioned at the hearing, but White once identified himself as an associate pastor of the ministry.
He was a fixture at Fouke City Council meetings, speaking up for Alamo when the preacher’s name came up, said Mary Coker, founder of the anti-Alamo group Partnered Against Cult Activity.
After White’s indictment on Sept. 11, 2007, Alamo told the Texarkana Gazette, “He is being railroaded because he goes to my church.”
After White’s sentencing Thursday, his attorney, David Botsford of Austin, Texas, said his client is no longer associated with the church.
Judge orders couple to rein in video
TEXARKANA, Ark. — Two followers of jailed evangelist Tony Alamo must try to get back a video of their daughter’s interview with a state child welfare official, even though the footage is on the Internet and a copy was mailed to the White House, a judge ruled Thursday.
Miller County Circuit Judge Jim Hudson’s order comes hours after a federal judge sentenced a man who once identified himself as an associate pastor at Alamo’s Fouke church to house arrest after pleading guilty to trafficking in counterfeit compact discs. Meanwhile, another judge delayed Alamo’s upcoming trial on charges he took young girls across state lines for sex.
Hudson ordered the man and woman, who are married, to contact a man who posted the video online, Tom Friess, and try to recover the copy they sent to President George W. Bush. They also must supply the court with documents that illustrate their efforts.
The interview was conducted less than 24 hours after two of the couple’s children were seized by Arkansas Department of Human Services workers following a raid on the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke. The children were among six juveniles seized in the Sept. 20 raid. Since then, a total of 36 juveniles linked to Alamo’s organization have been taken by the state.
At the start of the hearing, DHS attorney Misty Bowen Eubanks expressed concern about five other videos of interviews with seized children that were sent anonymously to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which posted them online with the children’s faces obscured.
DHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell said other motions were filed at the same time, with Hudson and Circuit Judge Joe Griffin, the other judge handling Alamo-related custody cases, to try to pre-empt any further disclosure of videos that are supposed to be confidential.
Munsell said no action would be taken against the Democrat-Gazette or Google, where the original video appeared.