Sex abuse testimony ends Alamo’s long crime career
July 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Sex abuse testimony ends Alamo’s long crime career By DEBORAH HASTINGS The Associated Press 7/26/09
Of all the horrid accusations against evangelist Tony Alamo – and the list is long – it was the testimony of formerly loyal subjects, recounting “marriages” between their cult leader and girls as young as 8, that may end his 40-year rule and send him to prison for life. Born Bernie Lazar Hoffman, the 74-year-old faces up to 175 years behind bars following his conviction Friday on 10 counts of transporting young girls across state lines for sexual purposes.
Some jurors wept while women described being molested by and forced into sex with their decades-older pastor. Among many who’ve watched Alamo’s handiwork since the 1970s – which produced allegations including kidnapping, brainwashing, child abuse, tax evasion and threatening a federal judge – there was never any doubt the street-hustler-turned-pastor should be locked away for good. Their question is, what took so long?….Bernie Hoffman of Joplin, Mo., a self-admitted petty criminal, arrived in Los Angeles in the 1960s, claiming he was a music promoter with clients including the Beatles. In a bar, he met a chain-smoking aspiring actress named Susan Lipowitz….The Alamos built a congregation from runaways, drug addicts, and drifters that littered Hollywood Boulevard. They started businesses, including making rhinestone-studded denim jackets that fetched $500 or more. They promised eternal salvation and free room and board.
In exchange, they demanded total control of their followers’ money, communication and sex lives. The congregation swelled to 700 or more and the Alamos grew rich….But defections started. Former members carried tales of corporal punishment, forced marriages and being refused food for days.
Sex abuse testimony ends Alamo’s long crime career – Part two
In 1987, brothers Carey Miller and Bob Miller fled the California compound, leaving three sons. When the men came back one night to take the boys, they found that 11-year-old Justin had been paddled. Authorities said he had been beaten for “misbehavior” including asking a science question in history class, punished with 140 blows from a 3-foot board while Alamo gave orders via speaker phone….
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office charged him with felony child abuse and the FBI launched a manhunt. Alamo was arrested in 1991 in Florida, where he’d been living under an assumed name and running local businesses. The IRS also charged him with tax evasion, and he was sentenced to six years for refusing to pay taxes totaling $7.9 million. While he was incarcerated, Los Angeles prosecutors dismissed their case against Alamo.
After Alamo left federal prison, he started another compound in the tiny town of Fouke, Ark., near the Texas border, with about 100 followers. He still preached that Armageddon was around the corner and young girls made the best wives.
Until last September, when more than 100 agents, including state police and the FBI, raided his Arkansas property…..Women were talking – on an Internet site and to state police, who alerted the FBI. They were tired of being abused, they said. They’d been given to Alamo as teenagers. They’d seen others handed over at ages 8, 9 and 10.