By Editorial Staff
Published January 26, 2001
By Rick Cundiff, Staff Writer, Ocala Star Banner
OCALA — Dr. James Scott Pendergraft IV testified Thursday he would still seek a $100 million judgment against Marion County if that was what it took to ensure his rights and those of the women of the county.
Pendergraft — owner of the Ocala Women’s Center, which provides abortions — took the witness stand in his own defense at his federal extortion trial. Co-defendant Michael Spielvogel concluded his testimony earlier in the day.
In a March 1999 meeting of Pendergraft, his then-attorney Roy Lucas, Spielvogel and Virgil “Bill” Wright, a lawyer for the county, Lucas threatened to bankrupt the county by asking for a $100 million civil judgment.
Pendergraft vowed to bankrupt the county and place a statue of himself in the center of the county saying he “brought freedom to Ocala.”
A videotape of that meeting, secretly recorded by the FBI, forms the basis for the conspiracy-to-commit-extortion charge Pendergraft and Spielvogel are facing.
Soft-spoken and deliberate, and frequently looking toward the jury box, Pendergraft didn’t back down Wednesday from his statement on the videotape.
“If that was what it took to prevent this from happening to anyone else in the country,” he said, “if that was the message to be sent out, then I was for that, if it was something I deserved, or the Ocala Women’s Center deserved.”
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 clinic, on Pine Avenue, and four other clinics, in Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, which also perform abortions.
At the time the Ocala clinic opened in July 1998, Pendergraft requested that off-duty Ocala police officers or Marion County sheriff’s deputies be allowed to work security details at the clinic. Then-Sheriff Ken Ergle and Ocala Police Chief Morrey Deen both refused permission.
The clinic needed help, Pendergraft said Thursday, because at the time anti-abortion protesters were blocking the driveway entrance, blocking the doors and getting as close as five feet from staff members and patients.
“We knew we needed protection from the protesters,” Pendergraft said. “Because we didn’t appear to be getting anywhere with the police, I turned to Mr. Lucas.”
The intent of the lawsuit was to force the protesters back far enough to allow staff and patients safe access and to require Deen and Ergle to allow their officers to work as clinic security, Pendergraft said.
Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges issued a preliminary injunction requiring the city to allow off-duty officers to work at the clinic but dismissed the lawsuit in December 1999, after Lucas failed to pursue it. Hodges is presiding over the criminal trial.
Wednesday’s testimony began with Spielvogel on the stand, under continued cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux. Although the exchanges between them began on a relatively civil note, mutual hostility quickly became evident.
Spielvogel and Devereaux clashed repeatedly throughout the cross-examination. On Wednesday, Spielvogel had mentioned an allegation made by some of Pendergraft’s supporters that Devereaux once referred to Pendergraft in a pre-trial meeting as a “head-crusher.”
Asked about Spielvogel’s remark Thursday, Devereaux first declined to comment, then said the statement came “from a liar.”
He added: “There’s nobody in this courtroom who would believe Mr. Spielvogel.”
On Wednesday, Devereaux asked Spielvogel if he knew what it meant to “take the fall.” On Thursday, he asked, “Have you ever heard of a bag man, the guy who goes out and does stuff for the bad person?”
“I’m not a bag man,” Spielvogel responded.
The FBI began investigating Spielvogel and Pendergraft in October 1997, after Spielvogel called County Commissioner Larry Cretul. The commission had sent a one-paragraph letter to Pendergraft asking him to reconsider his plans to open the Ocala clinic.
In that call, 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.
Cretul, at the FBI’s direction, secretly taped subsequent phone calls between himself and Pendergraft or Spielvogel.
Pendergraft testified Thursday he bought the property for the Ocala clinic after determining there was a need for reproductive health services in Marion County.
Spielvogel didn’t understand why he wanted to open the clinic, Pendergraft said.
“I told Michael that I was not interested in anyone buying my facility, that I was coming to Ocala because there was a need there. I told him I didn’t care if I made one dime there.”
A substantial number of Marion County patients were traveling to his Orlando facilities, Pendergraft said.
Spielvogel was afraid of Ocala from the start, Pendergraft said.
“When it came to Ocala, he just had this fear, this terror that something bad was going to happen up here,” Pendergraft said.
Spielvogel acknowledged Wednesday 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. After that call, Spielvogel called the FBI, alleging Cretul threatened him.
He also said that, after calling the FBI, he drove to one of Pendergraft’s two Orlando clinics and faked a call. He pretended to repeat threats Cretul was making as Pendergraft was walking into the room.
Spielvogel also said Wednesday that he didn’t tell his lawyer, Pendergraft’s lawyers or Pendergraft that the call was staged until 17 days ago, after the trial started.
In March 1999, Lucas filed two affidavits, one from Spielvogel and one from Pendergraft. Spielvogel’s documented the threats Cretul was falsely accused of making, and Pendergraft’s said he believed Spielvogel, based on the staged phone call.
Lucas used those affidavits as the basis for his demand for a settlement from the county. Pendergraft testified Thursday that Lucas proposed the settlement and he was relying on the lawyer’s advice.
Pendergraft said Thursday he was “very angry, but forgiving” about Spielvogel’s deception.
Pendergraft is scheduled to return to the witness stand this morning. The trial is expected to conclude next week.
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Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
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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
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This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
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“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).
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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.
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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
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