Indictment expected in Alamo case today

Arkansas Democrat Gazette/October 17, 2008

An indictment likely will be unsealed against Tony Alamo when he makes his first appearance today in an Arkansas courtroom, his attorney said Thursday.

"He has been indicted," John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock said Thursday before departing for Texarkana. "They don't unseal the indictment until after arraignment." The evangelist will plead innocent, likely to charges he violated the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes, said Hall, who has been told of the indictment but said he hasn't seen it.

At the hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. before U. S. Magistrate Barry Bryant in the federal building in downtown Texarkana, Alamo will ask for a detention hearing, which Hall said could take place as soon as next week. At a detention hearing, Alamo can argue for his release pending trial.

Debbie Grooms, an assistant U. S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas, declined to comment on today's hearing or on whether Alamo has been indicted.

Last month, in a news release, the U. S. attorney's office said Alamo should be detained until trial because he was a flight risk and a continued threat to the public.

The news release was issued after Alamo's Sept. 25 arrest as he left a hotel in Flagstaff, Ariz., on a warrant charging him with violating the Mann Act.

He was held in an Arizona jail until beginning his journey back to Arkansas earlier this month. Alamo took a circuitous route back to the state, according to Hall. From Flagstaff, Alamo went to Phoenix for several days before he was flown to Oklahoma City where he spent another few days. He took a bus to Texarkana, Hall said.

Alamo's arrest came days after more than 100 law enforcement officers and other officials raided the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Fouke as part of a two-year child pornography investigation. Six girls, ages 10 to 17, were removed from the compound during the Sept. 20 raid. All the girls are now in foster homes.

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