By Editorial Staff
Published October 3, 2000
By Rick Cundiff, Staff Writer, Ocala Star Banner
OCALA — An FBI videotape of a meeting between Marion County officials and the doctor who operates an Ocala abortion clinic may be admitted as evidence in the doctor’s upcoming extortion trial, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones ruled against a motion by attorneys for Dr. James Scott Pendergraft and his co-defendant, Michael Spielvogel, to suppress the videotape of the meeting at which Pendergraft and Spielvogel allegedly threatened to bankrupt Marion County by asking for a $100 million jury verdict in Pendergraft’s civil suit against the county.
Pendergraft and Spielvogel’s lawyers asked Jones to rule out the videotape under a section of U.S. law that prohibits statements made in civil settlement conferences from being used later in criminal matters under certain circumstances. Jones ruled that the statements made by Pendergraft and Spielvogel on the tape didn’t meet the criteria for exclusion under that rule.
Jones, however, didn’t rule out the possibility that U.S. Senior District Judge William Terrell Hodges could exclude part or all of the tape when the case comes to trial, under standard rules of evidence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux also raised the possibility that Pendergraft could be facing more criminal charges in Orlando, an allegation Pendergraft and his attorneys denied afterward.
“We know nothing about that,” said Pendergraft’s attorney, Jacob Rose.
Devereaux raised the issue in regard to Spielvogel’s attorney, Daniel Brodersen. Devereaux alleged that Brodersen represents Pendergraft in a pending criminal matter in Orlando, and that could compromise his defense of Spielvogel. Saying the investigation is still pending and no charges have been filed against Pendergraft in Orlando, Devereaux declined to be more specific in open court. He could not be reached for comment after the hearing.
In addition to the Ocala facility, Pendergraft operates abortion clinics in Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
Brodersen later said he doesn’t currently represent Pendergraft in any criminal matter. Pendergraft and Spielvogel declined to comment. Pendergraft’s spokeswoman, Marti MacKenzie, called Devereaux’s comments part of a “witch hunt” and a “smear campaign.”
“If they can’t pull a rabbit out of their hat, they’re going to pull a rat out of their hat,” MacKenzie said. “I think it’s entirely inappropriate that he would bring something up in open court.”
Pendergraft and Spielvogel, his Orlando-based real estate advisor, were indicted on June 13. The five-count indictment alleges that Pendergraft and Spielvogel conspired to extort millions of dollars from Marion County government by making false and fraudulent statements in a civil lawsuit Pendergraft filed in December 1998. Hodges dismissed that suit last December.
The criminal indictment alleges Pendergraft and Spielvogel lied in that suit by saying County Commissioner Larry Cretul threatened Spielvogel and the clinic. The indictment also alleges that Pendergraft and Spielvogel, through attorney Roy Lucas, threatened to bankrupt the county with a $100 million lawsuit.
Cretul and Virgil “Bill” Wright, who was acting as the county’s attorney for the civil suit, agreed to meet with Pendergraft and Spielvogel in March, 1999, at the request of the FBI. Devereaux argued that the meeting wasn’t actually a settlement meeting for the civil suit because Cretul and the county would not settle, and would not have met with Pendergraft and Spielvogel without the FBI request.
Attorneys for Pendergraft and Spielvogel argued that their clients met in good faith with the county officials to try to settle Pendergraft’s lawsuit, and that the tape therefore couldn’t be used.
Pendergraft and Spielvogel are both charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, lying under oath and mail fraud. Spielvogel faces additional charges of offering false testimony and making false statements to FBI investigators. Both men pleaded not guilty July 6.
If convicted, Pendergraft faces up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, while Spielvogel could face up to 40 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.
The case is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 5, but Jones noted Monday that it’s likely to be delayed due to motions by both sides. Pendergraft and Spielvogel’s attorneys also have filed motions for outright dismissal, and to move the trial to Orlando. Hodges is expected to rule on those motions sometime this week.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — 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.)
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.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)