Inspection of mattresses allowed in suit

Northwest Arkansas Newspapers Online/June 19, 2010

A judge on Thursday granted a New Jersey company permission to inspect 3,500 mattresses at a Booneville warehouse owned by members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.

The mattress’ manufacturer, Tempur-Pedic International Inc., said in a federal lawsuit that the mattresses were meant for needy people, including victims of Hurricane Katrina but were improperly diverted to ministry members and others who attempted to sell them for a profit.

Under an order by U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Marschewski, issued in 2007 in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, the mattresses can’t be moved from the warehouse until the lawsuit is resolved.

In 2008, at least three of the defendants in the case filed for bankruptcy, and proceedings in the case were suspended until the bankruptcies were resolved.

The inspection was requested by Close Out Surplus and Savings Inc., a Roseland, N.J., company that Tempur-Pedic said attempted to buy the mattresses from Action Distributors Inc., a company controlled by ministry members.

Close Out Surplus and Savings said the last inspection of the mattresses was in 2008. It said it had attempted to contact a representative of Action Distributors to request an inspection but had been unsuccessful.

Marschewski directed Close Out Surplus and Savings and Tempur-Pedic to conduct the inventory within 45 business days and report the results to him. He directed Action Distributors to cooperate with the inspection.

Tony Alamo, the leader of the ministry with operations in Fouke, Fort Smith and elsewhere, was convicted last year of taking five underage girls across state lines for sex. He was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Texarkana in November to 175 years in prison.

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