By Editorial Staff
Published January 30, 2001
By Frank Stanfield, Sentinel Correspondent
OCALA — Did an abortion doctor’s adviser agree to become the “fall guy” in a federal case accusing the doctor and the adviser of extortion? Or were both guilty of trying to extract a payoff from Marion County in return for keeping a women’s clinic out of the conservative community?
“Absolutely not,” Dr. James Scott Pendergraft said of the “fall guy” question.
“Are you looking for the truth?” the doctor fired back at Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux during his second day of testimony in federal court Monday.
Devereaux pulled out the Orlando doctor’s business records and noted that Pendergraft’s consultant, Michael Spielvogel of Orlando, was receiving $2,400 per month for his services until April 1999. That’s when Pendergraft realized that the real estate broker was being questioned by the FBI.
And then payments to Spielvogel shot up to $4,500 per month, according to records.
It was mere coincidence, the doctor said.
Spielvogel had built up additional expenses by that time, and was even owed a brokerage fee for one of the five clinics Pendergraft operates, including two in Orlando, he said.
It’s the Ocala Women’s Center, however, that is the center of the doctor’s trial, in which he and Spielvogel are accused of making false sworn statements and filing a potentially costly lawsuit to try to force County Commission Chairman Larry Crutel to pay them off to leave the area.
Pendergraft didn’t know it, but Crutel was wired for sound by the FBI.
Crutel was trying to trap him with words like “payoff”’ and “extortion,” Pendergraft testified.
Quoting from one transcript of the recordings, he pointed out that the Marion County chairman asked him if he wanted the money “in a brown paper bag.”
Under questioning by his attorney, Larry Colleton, Pendergraft cited parts of the transcript that showed him insisting the proposed sale of the clinic was a “straight business deal.”
Pendergraft testified Friday that when he went to a March 1999 conference with a lawyer for Marion County, he had no idea his then-lawyer Roy Lucas and Spielvogel would be demanding big bucks in damages to settle a pending lawsuit.
Pendergraft has insisted that the legal action was taken to push protesters away from his clinic and to get local government officials to provide off-duty police officers to guard his practice on Pine Street.
Spielvogel has become a fall guy during the trial, saying the doctor did nothing wrong. The real-estate broker even confessed that he pretended to receive a threatening phone call from Crutel so that Pendergraft would decide not to open a clinic in Ocala.
Today, jurors in federal Judge Terrell Hodges’ courtroom will hear closing arguments. Then, they will decide whether Pendergraft and Spielvogel are guilty of conspiring to commit extortion, mail fraud and making false statements. If convicted, each could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)