Judge Rules Jailed Alamo Can’t Have Cellular Phone : Courts: The cult leader, awaiting trial in Arkansas on a charge of threatening a judge’s life, can meet with his followers three days a week.
A federal judge has ruled that jailed cult leader Tony Alamo cannot have a cellular phone in his jail cell in Fort Smith, Ark.
U. S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele ruled that Alamo can meet with followers in the Crawford County Jail for five hours a day, three days a week, but for security reasons he cannot have a phone.
Alamo is scheduled to go on trial Friday on charges of threatening the life of U. S. District Judge Morris S. Arnold of Fort Smith in two telephone conversations. Alamo is also charged in Los Angeles with child abuse, stemming from the alleged beating of a child at his church’s now-defunct commune in Saugus.
Alamo wanted a cellular phone in his cell so he could make calls to raise money for his defense. Eisele pointed out that Alamo said in an affidavit in federal court in Tampa, Fla., that he had an income of $25,000 a week from the sale of decorated denim jackets, which are much in demand in some fashionable stores. Alamo’s attorney, Jeffrey Dickstein, however, said Alamo had been unable to make any money while in jail.
Alamo, 56, was arrested July 5 in Tampa after eluding authorities for two years. On July 22, he pleaded innocent and was denied bail.
If convicted of threatening Arnold, Alamo faces a maximum five-year sentence and a $5,000 fine. He also faces a civil contempt charge and the California charge.
Arnold had issued a civil warrant in Fort Smith against Alamo because Alamo did not respond to a civil suit brought by a family of former Alamo followers, leading to an order by the judge liquidating the foundation’s assets in Arkansas and in Tennessee to satisfy a $1.4-million judgment.
Alamo and his wife at the time, Susan, who is deceased, set up a religious sect, known for its anti-Catholic preachings, in Hollywood in the 1970s.
Headquarters for the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation were later established at Alma in northwestern Arkansas.