Jay Rogers
Director:
Jay Rogers

Recent Posts

The Forerunner

Spielvogel takes stand in Pendegraft trial

By Editorial Staff
Published January 24, 2001

By Rick Cundiff, Staff Writer, Ocala Star Banner

OCALA, FL — Jurors in the extortion trial of Michael Spielvogel and Dr. James Scott Pendergraft IV heard the details of Spielvogel’s life Tuesday, going back as far as high school.

Spielvogel and his wife, Mary, testified for the defense Tuesday. In doing so, they bared details of their life and marriage in open court.

Speaking softly, and in a near-monotone for nearly two hours, Spielvogel spoke of being threatened and persecuted throughout much of his life, starting when he was one of only five Jewish students attending a predominantly Catholic high school on Long Island.

Spielvogel also testified that when he was a teen-ager, federal agents temporarily relocated his family from New York to California after his father, a pharmacist, reported what turned out to be a hijacked truck full of medical supplies.

He later spoke of having a gun pointed at his head while trying to renovate a hotel, and of a 1970s kidnapping threat against his four children.

Under questioning by his attorney, Daniel Brodersen, Spielvogel also told jurors about his work history, ranging from having his own insurance agency to the real estate development career that began when he met Robert Wood Johnson III, an heir to the Johnson and Johnson medical supply fortune.

Pendergraft and Spielvogel are charged with conspiring to extort millions of dollars from Marion County government by making fraudulent statements in a lawsuit Pendergraft filed in December 1998.

Pendergraft owns the Ocala Women’s Center on Pine Avenue and four other Florida clinics that perform abortions.

The case stems from an investigation the FBI opened in October 1997, after Spielvogel called Marion County Commissioner Larry Cretul.

Earlier in the trial, Cretul testified Spielvogel said the county could expect “violent protests and firebombings” if the Pine Avenue clinic opened, but the problems could be avoided if the county bought the clinic property.

At the time, Spielvogel had started working as an adviser to Pendergraft while he and his wife were in the middle of a three-year separation. Mary Spielvogel is a clerical employee in one of Pendergraft’s Orlando clinics.

“My original goal in going to work with Dr. Pendergraft was to get my wife back,” Spielvogel testified. “To me — that was my goal.”

Unknown to Spielvogel, Cretul, at the FBI’s direction, secretly taped calls between Spielvogel and himself after that first call.

Spielvogel’s recollection of that first, unrecorded call was substantially different from Cretul’s.

Spielvogel testified he called Cretul in October 1997, about two weeks after Marion County commissioners sent a one-paragraph letter to Pendergraft asking him to reconsider his plans to open the Ocala clinic.

“I couldn’t comprehend a county official writing such a letter to this business,” Spielvogel said. “I took great offense to the letter.”

Even before making the call to Cretul, Spielvogel believed Marion County was not a good place for Pendergraft to place a clinic, he said.

“I thought it would be a very bad idea to open up after getting a letter like that,” he said. “I said to (Pendergraft) that it would not be a good idea to go and open a practice where you’re not welcome.”

Referring to Ocala twice as a “village,” Spielvogel testified he also was concerned about the conservative nature of the county, the distance from a major city, and that “I just thought it was an area of the state that was not friendly to his race.” Pendergraft is African American.

Spielvogel volunteered to call Cretul, who, as County Commission chairman, had signed the letter.

“My only objective was to see if he would retract the letter, just by seeing what kind of man Dr. Pendergraft was,” Spielvogel said.

Spielvogel testified that Cretul said the clinic would bring controversy to the county and he denied it would. After Spielvogel told Cretul that his wife worked for Pendergraft, Cretul allegedly said he wouldn’t have his wife working in the Ocala clinic.

Cretul also told Spielvogel the community would rally the churches to protest the clinic, Spielvogel testified.

“I was appalled a county official would say those things would happen,” he said.

According to Spielvogel, Cretul brought up the 1989 firebombings that destroyed an earlier abortion clinic in Ocala.

Cretul, the trial’s first witness, testified that Spielvogel was the one who brought up the firebombings and violent protest.

Toward the end of the call, Cretul allegedly asked what could be done to prevent the clinic from opening. Spielvogel suggested that someone buy the property.

“I had not talked to Dr. Pendergraft about anything,” Spielvogel said Tuesday. “The first thing that came to mind was have someone, a friend of the county, to buy the property. It just came out.”

Two days after that call, Cretul reported it to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, which referred him to the FBI.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Mary Spielvogel contradicted statements her husband made during a meeting the FBI videotaped in March 1999. At that meeting, Spielvogel told the county’s lawyer, Virgil “Bill” Wright, that Mrs. Spielvogel heard him repeat threats Cretul allegedly made in a phone call to Spielvogel.

The FBI audiotape of the only known call between Spielvogel and Cretul on Jan. 29, 1998, contains no such threats. Mrs. Spielvogel testified Tuesday that she could not remember being in the room during any conversation between her husband and Cretul, let alone one that happened on Jan. 29 — her birthday.

Over repeated objections from Pendergraft’s and Spielvogel’s lawyers, Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges allowed prosecutor Judy Hunt to ask whether Mrs. Spielvogel knew her husband had relationships with other women during the couple’s separation. Mrs. Spielvogel quietly answered yes.

Hunt said the question raised the issue of how much Mrs. Spielvogel knew about her husband’s day-to-day life, including the nature of the work he did for Pendergraft, during the separation.

At the end of Mrs. Spielvogel’s testimony, attorney Brodersen asked Hodges to allow Mrs. Spielvogel to remain in the courtroom for the rest of the trial, to support her husband. Hodges left the decision to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux, who refused.

Devereaux declined to comment on the decision after court recessed for the day. Pendergraft spokeswoman Marti Mackenzie condemned the prosecutor’s action.

“The prosecutors were perfectly willing to delve into every painful aspect of their marital life and that they have reconciled and that they are obviously going through a very difficult time,” she said. “When the judge gave Devereaux the power to allow Mary to stay in the courtroom . . . he refused the Spielvogels that decent, kind allowance. There’s nothing legal about that. That’s just mean.”

The trial is scheduled to continue this morning, with Spielvogel again on the witness stand.


Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »

Your comments are welcome!

Textile Help

Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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.)

Click here for more information


The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Go Stand Speak (DVD)

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.)

Click here for more information


Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

Share |

Search this site:
View CCNow Cart/Checkout
View CCNow Cart/Checkout

RSS
Subscribe to
The Forerunner

Have The Forerunner Weblog sent straight to your inbox!

Enter your email address:

YouTube
The Forerunner Channel on YouTube


Promote Your Page Too

Featured Product
If you like the articles on this website, you may also be interested in:

Featured Articles

Live Seminar!

Real Jesus
The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
continued ...


View My Stats