Cult Leader Tony Alamo Dies
Tony Alamo died today.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher whose apocalyptic ministry grew into a multimillion-dollar network of businesses and property before he was convicted in Arkansas of sexually abusing young girls he considered his wives, has died in prison. He was 82
The article doesn’t mention the reason I first heard of him, and that is because of the case Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation v. U.S. Department of Labor (1985).
Basically, Tony Alamo had a bunch of people whom he’d saved from their lives of drug addiction and misery and they were working for him in his businesses. He was most famous for selling jackets with bling on them.
However, Tony was not paying his workers minimum wage. That’s because he said they weren’t employees. Instead, they were being paid in room and food. The Department of Labor said they had to be paid minimum wage and Alamo had to otherwise follow wage and hour regulations. The courts (district, appellate, Supreme) all agreed with the Department of Labor.
In the late 1980s, the FBI was hunting him down on child abuse charges. From the LA Times, September 3, 1989:
FBI agents may be hot on his trail, but fundamentalist cult leader Tony Alamo is still selling $600 designer jackets to Melrose Avenue boutiques and to upscale clothing stores nationwide.
Alamo, 54, has evaded arrest on felony child-abuse charges since October. Authorities say he directed the beating of an 11-year-old boy struck with a three-foot wooden paddle more than 140 times at the Saugus commune of the Holy Alamo Christian Church.
But his flight from justice apparently hasn’t prevented Alamo from continuing to make a small fortune on his designer denim jackets, a business former cult members say he operates with some of his about 500 church followers doubling as employees.
To push his jackets in the competitive clothing market, Alamo has maintained an increasingly public life despite the federal manhunt. FBI agents say he has been spotted selling his jackets in Las Vegas stores. And he has even paid a quick visit to Los Angeles City Hall to have his picture taken with Mayor Tom Bradley.
It’s unclear that Alamo was ever brought in on those charges. However, years later, he was convicted on Mann Act charges of taking underage “wives” across state lines. This activity apparently went on for decades. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 25, 2009:
TEXARKANA, Ark. — Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher who built a multimillion-dollar ministry and became an outfitter of the stars, was convicted Friday of taking girls as young as 9 across state lines for sex.
Alamo stood silently as the verdict was read, a contrast to his occasional mutterings during testimony. His five victims sat looking forward in the gallery. One, a woman he “married” at age 8, wiped away a tear.
He was sentenced to 175 years in prison.
More about Alamo at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas:
ETA: The Alamo Fdn v. Dept of Labor case is still good law. Creepy evangelist Ernest Angley was found in violation of federal wage and hour regulations at the end of March 2017. The judge cited the Alamo Fdn case in his opinion (found at the bottom of this article): cleveland.com