FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Evangelist and convicted tax evader Tony Alamo waived his right to fight extradition to Arkansas after his arrest on charges that he took minors across state lines for sexual purposes.
Alamo appeared briefly Friday in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff. It will be at least a week before he is moved to Arkansas, said Debbie Groom, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office there.
The one-time rock promoter and street preacher was arrested by the FBI while leaving a Flagstaff hotel Thursday on charges of violating the Mann Act, usually used in interstate prostitution cases.
Federal prosecutors sought Alamo’s arrest after interviewing six girls taken into state custody during a raid of his southwestern Arkansas compound Saturday.
An Arkansas judge ruled Friday there was probable cause to keep two of those six girls in foster homes, according to Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services. Custody hearings for the other four girls are scheduled for Monday.
Alamo told U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey he had legally changed his name to Tony Alamo from his birth name, Bernie Lazar Hoffman. He also said he was legally blind.
Court documents in the case were sealed.
Alamo was represented by a federal public defender but said he planned to hire his own attorney. The defense lawyer was then released from the case. He declined to comment.
Alamo has said that the age of consent is puberty and that there’s a mandate in the Bible for girls marrying young.
“In the Bible it happened. But girls today, I don’t marry them if they want to at 14-15 years old,” Alamo told The Associated Press after the raid. “We won’t do it, even though I believe it’s OK.”
Federal agents and Arkansas state police who raided the headquarters of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in the town of Fouke removed six girls ages 10 to 17. They said they were seeking evidence that children there had been molested or filmed having sex.
Alamo and his wife, Susan, formed a commune near Saugus, Calif., in the 1960s after preaching in Los Angeles. Susan Alamo died of cancer in 1982, and Alamo claimed she would be resurrected, keeping her body on display for months.
Alamo was convicted of tax-related charges in 1994 and served four years in prison after the IRS said he owed the government $7.9 million.
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