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Clinic owner indicted for extortion, 6/15/2000

By Editorial Staff
Published June 15, 2000

By Rick Cundiff, Staff Writer, Ocala Star-Banner

OCALA — The owner of a local clinic that performs abortions has been indicted in federal court on extortion charges.

The five-count indictment, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, alleges that Dr. James Scott Pendergraft and his Orlando-based real estate adviser, Michael 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.

That lawsuit named the county, the city of Ocala, police chief Morrey Deen, Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean, former sheriff Ken Ergle and a dozen anti-abortion activists as defendants, alleging that the city and county failed to provide adequate protection to the Ocala Women’s Center at 108 N. Pine Ave. U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges dismissed that suit last December, after Pendergraft and attorney Roy Lucas failed to pursue it.

The new 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 Lucas, threatened to bankrupt the county with a $100 million lawsuit.

Pendergraft and Spielvogel now are subject to arrest if they do not turn themselves in to federal officials, U.S. District Court spokesman Steve Cole said late Wednesday. Once in custody, they will be subject to a bond hearing before a federal magistrate, Cole added.

Reached at his Fort Lauderdale clinic Wednesday afternoon, Pendergraft said he was unaware of the indictment.

The indictment calls statements Spielvogel made against Cretul in sworn affidavits “false, fictitious and libelous,” and calls the entire civil suit “a scheme to extort the payment of money from Marion County.”

On Feb. 24, 1999, Spielvogel signed an affidavit alleging that Cretul said in a telephone conversation that he knew Spielvogel’s wife worked for Pendergraft and that he (Cretul) “wouldn’t send any of his family members to Ocala if he were in my situation.”

The same affidavit also alleges that Cretul “pointedly and threateningly reminded (Spielvogel) of the earlier fire bombings in Ocala at (a previous abortion) clinic that had been twice destroyed by ‘unsolved’ arson,” and that “it’s not an ‘if,’ but a ‘when’ that this new clinic is bombed that concerned him.”

Spielvogel also alleged in the affidavit that Cretul referred to a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic bombing that killed one man and seriously wounded a nurse, and said it was “nothing compared to what will happen in Ocala.”

The affidavit went on to state that Pendergraft was in the room with Spielvogel when he allegedly spoke with Cretul, and could attest to Spielvogel’s “terror and reaction.”

The criminal indictment alleges Pendergraft and Spielvogel repeated those statements in March 1998, in a letter to Virgil “Bill” Wright III, the attorney who represented the county in the civil case, and in an injunction demand filed days later in federal court.

Spielvogel also allegedly repeated the comments about Cretul at a meeting in Wright’s office in March 1998, at which time Pendergraft said he was present at Spielvogel’s home during the alleged telephone conversation between Spielvogel and Cretul. At that meeting, Pendergraft and his attorney, Lucas, reportedly said they would “bankrupt Marion County, and would ask for a jury verdict of more than $100 million.”

Because both are scheduled to be a witnesses against Pendergraft and Spielvogel, Cretul and Wright both declined to comment Wednesday.

Spielvogel has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment. Marti MacKenzie, Pendergraft’s Orlando-based spokeswoman, said Pendergraft and his attorneys had been aware for some time that the doctor was under investigation.

“The timing of the indictment was unexpected, but his defense team will be taking whatever measures available to protest, and to argue his innocence,” MacKenzie said.

“From day one, Ocala was an extremely hostile environment, from the government to the fundamentalists. He will fight this battle as he has previous battles.”

Anti-abortion protesters have picketed the Ocala Women’s Center since it opened in mid-1998.

The clinic will remain open for now, MacKenzie said.

“There are no plans to close anything at this time,” she said.


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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?

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

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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).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

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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.”

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

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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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

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.

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Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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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...
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