By Editorial Staff
Published December 12, 2000
By Rick Cundiff, Staff Writer, Ocala Star Banner
OCALA — The extortion trial of Dr. James Scott Pendergraft IV, which was scheduled to start in federal court Monday, instead was postponed due to the death of Pendergraft’s grandmother.
Pendergraft’s lawyers, Jacob Rose and Larry Colleton filed an emergency motion for a 10-day continuance Monday morning with Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges. In their motion, the lawyers said Pendergraft’s grandmother, Sally L. Pendergraft, died at 5 a.m. Sunday in a North Carolina Hospital. The motion also said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux opposed the motion.
With prospective jurors waiting in the courtroom, prosecutors and attorneys for Pendergraft and co-defendant Michael Spielvogel met in Hodges’ chambers to argue the motion. Hodges entered the courtroom at 9:37 a.m. and dismissed the jury pool.
“This is regrettable, but unavoidable,” Hodges told the prospective jurors. The judge elected to postpone the trial until after the holidays, setting a new trial date of Jan. 2.
Pendergraft, Spielvogel and their attorneys left the courtroom without comment.
“We’re gratified by the judge’s compassion,” said Marti Mackenzie, Pendergraft’s spokeswoman.
Pendergraft owns the Ocala Women’s Center on Pine Avenue, which provides women’s health services, including abortions. He also operates four other clinics in Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
Steve Cole, spokesman for the Middle District of Florida U.S. Attorney’s office declined to say what Devereaux’s reaction was to the motion for continuance.
“We’re not going to discuss what was said in chambers,” he said. “We are just preparing for trial in January.”
The motion noted that Pendergraft was needed in North Carolina to direct funeral arrangements and handle other family matters. It also stated that he was close to his grandmother, “who assisted greatly in his upbringing.”
Sally Pendergraft had been hospitalized since suffering a stroke last month. That event prompted an earlier emergency continuance, to give Pendergraft an opportunity to travel to North Carolina to help his family make medical decisions at that time.
James Pendergraft and Spielvogel were indicted in federal court June 13. The five-count indictment alleges that the two men 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. Hodges dismissed that suit last December.
The indictment alleges Pendergraft and Spielvogel lied in the civil suit by saying County Commissioner Larry Cretul threatened Spielvogel and the clinic. The indictment also alleges that Pendergraft and Spielvogel, through attorney Roy Lucas, threatened to bankrupt the county by asking for a $100 million judgment.
Both men are charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, lying under oath and mail fraud. Spielvogel faces additional charges of offering false testimony and making false statements to FBI investigators. Both Pendergraft and Spielvogel have pleaded not guilty.
Hodges has not yet ruled on two defense motions. The first motion is to move the trial to Orlando, and the second is to question prospective jurors individually, instead of in a group, to determine any bias on the issue of abortion.
A press conference at the Ocala Women’s Center that had been scheduled for the court’s lunch break Monday was canceled after Hodges granted the continuance.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
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.)
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.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
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.)