By Editorial Staff
Published January 10, 2001
The FBI Secretly Recorded The Doctor And His Lawyer Threatening To Bankrupt Marion County In A Lawsuit
By Pedro Ruz Gutierrez of The Sentinel Staff
OCALA — Jurors in the attempted extortion trial of an Orlando abortion doctor watched a secretly recorded video on Tuesday showing him and his attorney talk about wrecking the finances of Marion County government with a lawsuit.
“We are going to go for a verdict of over $100 million,” said Roy Lucas, the attorney who filed the 1998 suit seeking police protection for Dr. James Scott Pendergraft’s newly opened abortion clinic. “They better come up with some money or they are going to get burned. We’ll try to bankrupt the county.”
“Not try. We will bankrupt the county,” said Pendergraft, raising his voice toward the end of the 69-minute video recorded by the FBI. “And I promise you that I’ll put a statue of myself that says Dr. Pendergraft brought freedom to Ocala.”
Pendergraft then added: “That will make Cretul shiver in his pants.”
County Chairman Larry Cretul had authored a 1997 letter asking Pendergraft to reconsider opening the Ocala clinic.
Cretul later went to the FBI, which secretly taped phone calls in which the doctor and his real-estate associate Michael Spielvogel offered to stay out of the county for payments ranging from $500,000 to $1 million.
Pendergraft and Spielvogel are accused of conspiring to extort, mail fraud and scheming to defraud. Spielvogel also faces charges of filing a false affidavit and lying to the FBI.
Lucas has not been charged. Prosecutors say Pendergraft and Spielvogel merely used him in their financial scheme.
The 1999 sting operation, facilitated by an attorney who represented Marion County at the time, is considered crucial by assistant U.S. attorneys, who say Pendergraft and Spielvogel lied about supposed threats made by Cretul. Virgil “Bill” Wright, an attorney representing Marion County and Cretul in the 1998 suit, testified on Tuesday that he agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office after the FBI explained Cretul’s role and let him listen to tape recordings.
Taxpayers would have had to pick up the tab for any damage payments arising out of a lawsuit, Wright said.
Pendergraft and his lawyer won a preliminary court order that allowed off-duty police to guard Pendergraft’s clinic, but the complaint seeking damages was later dismissed by District Judge W. Terrell Hodges.
Hodges, who is also presiding at Pendergraft’s criminal trial, suspended testimony after lunch Tuesday after a juror fell outside the courthouse and was hospitalized with head injuries. It was not clear whether she could return.
The accident was the latest of several unusual incidents at the federal building, including two electrical blackouts during playback of the surveillance video and two more Friday. Hodges blamed a circuit breaker.
Defense attorney Jacob Rose fell in the dark on Friday and reinjured a knee. He is walking on crutches this week.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
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.)
“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.)
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.)
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.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)