Feds Target Jailed Evangelist Tony Alamo's Property

(Evan Lewis/The Texarkana Gazette/AP Photo)

Nearly four years after evangelist Tony Alamo was convicted of transporting minors across state lines for sex, the federal government has filed a suit to seize his Arkansas properties to compensate his victims.

Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced in a statement Monday that the government is seeking property, including 27 pieces that are either owned or controlled by Alamo.

Alamo, 78, was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman. The Jewish-born Hoffman converted to Christianity and became an evangelical pastor, establishing the Tony Alamo Christian ministries in Fort Smith, Ark. From 1994 to 2005, he transported five victims younger than 18 from his home in Arkansas to molest them. He was convicted in November 2009 and is serving a 175 year prison sentence.

The court ruled in January 2010 that Alamo owed the victims a total of $2.5 million in restitution, which he has failed to pay. The government wants to liquidate Alamo's property and give the money for the victims.

"We will use every tool at our disposal to see that Tony Alamo pays the $2.5 million he owes to the victims in this case," U.S. Attorney Eldridge said in the statement. "The victims in this case suffered from horrendous abuse at his hands. We will do all we can to ensure that they receive the restitution that was ordered."

The properties that the government has filed to seize are under the control of Alamo, even though they are listed as being owned by individual members of the Christian ministry, Eldridge said.

The Alamo Christian Ministries has not responded to requests for comment.