A civil lawsuit filed Monday in Miller County could be the first step in collecting a $3 million judgment owed to two former Tony Alamo Christian Ministries members by fugitive and alleged enforcer John Kolbek.
The suit, filed by Texarkana attorney David Carter on behalf of former members Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek, seeks the invalidation of deeds transferring property titles from John Kolbek to other ministry loyalists. One of the deeds covers the ministry compound in Fouke.
Kolbek has been wanted by state and federal authorities since 2008 for beating Calagna with a 6-foot long wooden paddle at a Tony Alamo Christian Ministries-run warehouse in Fort Smith, Ark. Kolbek is wanted by federal authorities for unlawful flight from prosecution.
Calagna and Ondrisek filed suit against Alamo and Kolbek in November 2008 alleging battery, false imprisonment, outrage and conspiracy in the Texarkana division of federal court in the Western District of Arkansas.
U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes awarded $1,500,000 each to Ondrisek and Calagna after Kolbek failed to respond to the suit. Barnes severed the cases of Alamo and Kolbek and ruled that Kolbek's failure to answer amounted to an admission of guilt. A date for trial in Ondrisek and Calagna's case against Alamo hasn't been set.
Carter filed a petition in Miller County Circuit Court to have six "quit claim deeds" executed by John Kolbek and his wife, Jennifer Kolbek, declared fraudulent. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Joe Griffin.
Named as defendants are John and Jennifer Kolbek, Jeanne Estates Apartments, Inc., and Thomas and Merry Anne Barnett.
The suit alleges that the deeds, five of which were filed in Sebastian County, Ark., and one of which was signed in Miller County, Ark., are invalid because they were made with the "…actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud…"
"Specifically the purported transfers were made after plaintiffs' claims against John Kolbek arose and were made without receiving a reasonable equivalent value in exchange for the transfers, which were made to other entities and persons affiliated with Tony Alamo Christian Ministries," the petition states.
Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, was found guilty in 2009 of bringing five young girls he wed as children across state lines for sex. He is currently serving a recently-affirmed 175-year sentence in federal prison.
Kolbek, at Alamo's bidding, beat Calagna and Ondrisek while they were living on ministry property as children. Through live testimony and affidavit the men described in graphic detail repeated, brutal assaults by a 6 feet 4 inch, 250- pound Kolbek that left them bruised, bleeding and disfigured.
The men were forced to labor unpaid for as many as 70 hours per week, were forced to fast and were beaten "ritualistically," Carter said.
Carter said he'll be seeking liquidation of the properties identified in the petition so John Kolbek's interest in the proceeds can be used to satisfy the $3 million owed to Calagna and Ondrisek for their suffering.
Among the properties named on the deeds in the suit is one for the main Tony Alamo Christian Ministries church in Fouke, Ark., at 1005 Highway 71. The quit claim deed on that property states the Kolbeks received $1 for relinquishing ownership to the Barnetts. Another deed lists property in Fort Smith known as the Jeanne Estates Apartments. Four other Fort Smith properties are listed as well.
"We will be asking the Court to void at least six deeds which attempt to transfer Kolbek's interests in real estate to other Alamo insiders," Carter said. "The deeds were filed of record after my clients brought suit against Mr. Kolbek, and are an apparent attempt to fraudulently avoid the judgment against him."