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Alamo arrested in Arizona

‘I’m not on the run’ he tells Signal the same afternoon

Posted: September 25, 2008 9:28 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

This undated file photo made available by Tony Alamo Christian Ministries shows Tony Alamo and his wife Susan. The FBI says evangelist Tony Alamo has been arrested in Arizona on suspicion of transporting minors acr...

Moments before FBI agents arrested evangelist Tony Alamo in Flagstaff, Ariz., Thursday, he completed an interview with The Signal.

“I’m not on the run,” Alamo said by phone Thursday from a desert location he would not specify. “I was on my way to Santa Clarita but I got stranded here.”

FBI special agents arrested the charismatic church leader without incident.

Alamo said his vehicle had broken down and that he was waiting for the proper replacement part to get back on the road.

 “I don’t want to get arrested on false charges. But I’m not worried,” he said with a laugh. “The Lord says ‘Don’t worry.’”

Alamo said he wasn’t worried because it was his understanding no warrant had been issued for his arrest.

United States Magistrate Barry A. Bryant issued a federal arrest warrant Thursday for Bernie Lazar Hoffman, aka Tony Alamo, for transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.

Agents raided Alamo’s compounds in Fouke, Ark., and in the Santa Clarita Valley during the weekend.
Agents arrested Alamo as he was leaving the Little America Hotel located at Interstate 40 and Butler Road in Flagstaff.

Alamo is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff today to determine if and when he will be returned to Arkansas.

Arkansas investigators removed computers from the compound there, said Alamo. Details on the Santa Clarita-area raid have not been revealed.

“They won’t find anything and they never will. They say I’m a pornographer. They can take all the computers they want, they won’t find anything,” Alamo said minutes before his arrest. “There’s nothing on there that I know of. I can’t operate a computer. I don’t touch them.

“Everybody here knows that.”

Most of Alamo’s recent troubles began when a 35-year-old man working in the kitchen at his Fouke compound wanted to marry a 13-year-old girl who worked in Alamo’s office.

“They left the church because I wouldn’t marry them. I told them I wouldn’t let anyone else marry them,” Alamo said. “He left and shortly after that, she left.”

Alamo made an audio recording with “the girls” in which he asked them direct and pointed questions about sex at the compound.

“I ask them, ‘Did I ever have sex with you?’ and they would be laughing (and) said, ‘No, sir.’ And I asked them, ‘Did I ever molest you?’ And they said, ‘No, sir.’ I asked, “Did we ever have sex together?’ And they said, ‘No, sir.’”

Alamo said federal authorities are making accusations to distract media attention away from the ongoing financial news of bailouts and bankruptcies.

The current allegations leveled against him are the latest in 44 years of harassment, he said.
In 1967 Tony and his wife, Susan, set up the Tony and Susan Christian Foundation at a site on Sierra Highway worth of Canyon Country.

In 1994, he started servimng a four-year prison sentence for tax evasion at a federal correctional facility in Texarkana.

“They say I’m brainwashing people,” Alamo said Thursday.

Alamo is seldom photographed without his sunglasses.

“I don’t want to scare anyone,” he said.

About 1:30 a.m. Sunday, FBI agents with the Los Angeles field office and county protective services agents raided Alamo’s church on Sierra Highway.

No children were involved in the operation and no children were removed from the local church, said Louise Grasmehr, spokeswoman with the Department of Children and Family Services.

Staff Writer Brian Charles contributed to this story.


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