By Editorial Staff
Published July 7, 2000
By Bill Thompson, Staff Writer, Ocala Star Banner
OCALA — An Orlando doctor and his former real estate consultant pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges they schemed to extort millions of dollars from Marion County taxpayers.
James Scott Pendergraft, owner of the Ocala Women’s Center at 108 N. Pine Ave., denied allegations he intentionally lied about threats to his clinic, at which abortions are performed, in order to settle a federal lawsuit he brought against city and county officials.
Pendergraft’s former business consultant and co-defendant, Michael Spielvogel, also asserted his innocence.
A federal grand jury indicted Pendergraft and Spielvogel on June 13, charging them with one count each of conspiracy to commit extortion, lying under oath and mail fraud. Spielvogel faces one additional count each of offering false testimony and making false statements to FBI investigators.
U.S. Magistrate Gary R. Jones accepted the pleas and ordered the defendants immediately released on their own recognizance, citing their clean criminal records and their strong community ties in Orlando. However, Jones did make them to surrender their passports and to turn over any weapons they might own.
Jones set their trial for Sept. 5.
If convicted as charged, Pendergraft faces up to 30 years in prison and fines of $750,000, the judge said. Spielvogel could receive 40 years behind bars and fines of $1.25 million, if convicted as charged.
The accusations stem from the defendants’ actions during a lawsuit Pendergraft filed in December 1998. He sued Marion County, the City of Ocala, police Chief Morrey Deen, Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean, former sheriff Ken Ergle and a dozen anti-abortion activists, alleging officials failed to provide adequate protection for his clinic.
A judge dismissed the lawsuit in December.
Federal prosecutors maintain that as the lawsuit proceeded between February 1999 and April 1999 Spielvogel concocted stories about Marion County Commissioner Larry Cretul saying Pendergraft’s clinic would be fire bombed or that Spielvogel’s wife, who worked there, would be harmed.
Pendergraft’s lawyer in the civil action, Roy Lucas, subsequently relayed Cretul’s alleged threats to Virgil “Bill” Wright III, a lawyer representing Marion County, and other attorneys involved in the lawsuit, according to the indictment.
Pendergraft and Spielvogel also submitted sworn statements, described by prosecutors as “false, fraudulent and libelous,” attesting to Cretul’s remarks, the indictment says.
Federal prosecutors contend Pendergraft, Spielvogel and Lucas met with Wright in March 1999 to settle the lawsuit. If not done so to their satisfaction, the plaintiffs said they would repeat Cretul’s supposed threats in court and “bankrupt” Marion County by asking a jury to award them more than $100 million, investigators say.
Thursday, Pendergraft entered his plea about two hours after he proclaimed his innocence at a news conference held in his office at his Ocala clinic, which he opened in July 1998.
“The allegations contained in the indictment filed against me are untrue,’‘ said Pendergraft, 43. “I am not a criminal. I’m completely innocent of all charges.”
Pendergraft said the criminal charges partly could be attributed to the anti-abortion sentiment of county commissioners, Cretul in particular. Pendergraft, who operates four other clinics in Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, said officials here have been the most hostile to him.
Pendergraft’s lawyer in the criminal case, Larry Colleton of Orlando, promised to mount a vigorous defense, saying his client believed Spielvogel was being truthful about Cretul’s threats.
Colleton added that it wasn’t likely the community’s anti-abortion feelings would dissipate in the near future.
Pendergraft’s co-counsel, Jacob Rose of West Palm Beach, said Pendergraft’s defense team most likely would request a change of venue because the “inflammatory conduct” already demonstrated meant Pendergraft probably wouldn’t get a fair trial in Ocala.
Spielvogel, 53, and his lawyer, Daniel Brodersen of Orlando, both declined to comment on the case following the hearing.
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Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
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.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
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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.
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“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
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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Download the free Study Guide!
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.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
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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).
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.
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