By Editorial Staff
Published January 25, 2001
By Rick Cundiff, Staff Writer, Ocala Star Banner
OCALA — From the witness stand Wednesday, Michael Spielvogel did his best to do what he said has always been his top priority in Ocala — protecting an innocent Dr. James Scott Pendergraft IV.
During the day, Spielvogel admitted he lied to Marion County Commissioner Larry Cretul about Pendergraft’s plans for an Ocala abortion clinic and about threats allegedly made by Cretul.
Spielvogel acknowledged that he faked the telephone call in which he repeated the threats Cretul allegedly made for Pendergraft to hear.
Spielvogel also testified he didn’t tell Pendergraft, Pendergraft’s lawyers, or even his own lawyer, that he faked that call until sometime in the past 16 days — after the federal trial had started in Ocala.
But he adamantly insisted Pendergraft didn’t know about his lies and that his co-defendant had done nothing wrong.
“I’m the scumbucket, dirtbucket, if you want to call it that,” Spielvogel said angrily. “If I go to prison and he goes free, that’s the right thing, if I did anything wrong.”
Spielvogel’s outburst, just before the trial recessed for the day, came after more than an hour of intense, aggressive questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux. Moments before, Devereaux had asked Spielvogel if he knew what it meant to “take the fall for somebody.”
Devereaux repeatedly quizzed Spielvogel about the faked phone call. Speaking loudly to overcome Spielvogel’s partial hearing loss, Devereaux’s tone was icy and frequently sarcastic.
Spielvogel called his picking up a telephone in Pendergraft’s office and repeating comments he alleged Cretul made to him a “re-enactment.”
“Was it a true-life re-enactment, like MacArthur’s return to the Philippines?” Devereaux asked. “Was this a faked re-enactment or a real re-enactment?”
Earlier in the day, Spielvogel admitted that Cretul did not make threats against Spielvogel’s wife or the clinic and did not mention an Alabama clinic bombing during a telephone call between the two men on Jan. 29, 1998.
Devereaux and Pendergraft attorney Jacob Rose sparred briefly near the start of Devereaux’s cross-examination. Rose objected twice to Devereaux’s habit of pointing with his arm toward Pendergraft as he questioned Spielvogel. The second time, Rose and Devereaux exchanged words briefly.
At that, Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges slammed his fist down on the bench.
“You will not address each other!” he declared loudly. “Your objection, Mr. Rose, is overruled. Sit down.”
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, which perform abortions.
The FBI began investigating Spielvogel and Pendergraft in October 1997, after Spielvogel called Cretul, shortly after the County Commissioners sent a one-paragraph letter to Pendergraft asking him to reconsider his plans to open the Ocala clinic.
In that call, Cretul testified, Spielvogel allegedly 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.
Cretul, at the FBI’s direction, taped subsequent phone calls between himself and Pendergraft or Spielvogel.
Spielvogel testified repeatedly Wednesday that his sole purpose in talking to Cretul was to try to persuade Pendergraft that the doctor shouldn’t open a clinic in Ocala.
“I was scared at the possibility of the clinic’s opening in Ocala and my wife going up there and Dr. Pendergraft’s safety and the staff’s safety,” he said. Spielvogel’s wife, Mary, is a clerical employee in Pendergraft’s Orlando clinic.
Pendergraft didn’t share his concerns, Spielvogel said.
“Dr. Pendergraft just shut me down,” he testified. “I told him I was scared about him going to Ocala, that I was scared for his staff going to Ocala.”
Around the time of the January 1998 telephone conversation between Spielvogel and Cretul, Spielvogel’s father was dying of cancer in Houston, Spielvogel said.
With the stress of his father’s pending death, the Birmingham clinic bombing and a comment from Cretul that he believed protest letters Pendergraft was receiving from area churches were “gonna be mild,” Spielvogel did feel threatened, he said.
“It was just a total buildup in my head of what was happening,” he said.
After that conversation with Cretul, Spielvogel called the FBI himself to ask to for protection from Cretul’s alleged threats. Later that evening, he went to the Orlando Women’s Center and made a brief telephone call from Pendergraft’s unoccupied office to a relative.
As Pendergraft entered the office, Spielvogel still had the phone in his hand. He began saying things as if he were talking to Cretul and repeating comments Cretul was making, loud enough for Pendergraft to hear.
Spielvogel later repeated his allegations in an affidavit filed in the lawsuit. Pendergraft filed a second affidavit saying he believed Spielvogel, because Spielvogel repeated the threats while he was on the phone with Cretul.
“I didn’t mean to deceive anybody on this affidavit,” Spielvogel said Wednesday. “I believed what I signed to be correct and true, as to my feelings.”
Attorney Roy Lucas, who has since disappeared, attempted to use those affidavits in March 1999 to seek a financial settlement from Marion County in the lawsuit. Lucas came up with the idea of trying to collect monetary damages, Spielvogel said. Hodges dismissed the lawsuit in late 1999.
An FBI videotape of a meeting of Lucas, Pendergraft, Spielvogel, and the county’s lawyer, Virgil “Bill” Wright III, shows Spielvogel repeating the allegation that Cretul threatened him, his wife and the clinic.
The trial is scheduled to continue this morning, with Spielvogel returning to the witness stand to face more cross-examination by Devereaux.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
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.)
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.)
“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.)
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — 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.)