Naples (Florida) Daily News – Associated Press
OCALA – The FBI investigation into abortion provider Dr. James Scott Pendergraft was “attempted entrapment,” his defense attorney said Friday in federal court.
Pendergraft’s attorney, Jacob Rose, accused FBI agents of “outrageous conduct” as they investigated the doctor and his real estate agent, Michael Spielvogel, in what they believe was an attempted extortion scheme.
The FBI inquiry was started after Marion County Commission chairman Larry Cretul complained that Pendergraft and Spielvogel attempted to extort up to $1 million to cancel plans to open an abortion clinic in Ocala.
Under cross-examination on the eighth day of Pendergraft and Spielvogel’s trial, FBI Agent Pamela Piersanti defended the investigation and disputed the position of many abortion rights advocates that the case was motivated by anti-abortion agenda.
“This case has nothing to do with abortion,” Piersanti said.
Pendergraft is charged with conspiracy, attempted extortion and mail fraud and could face 30 years in prison if convicted. Spielvogel faces the same charges plus additional charges of filing a false document and making false statements to the FBI. He could face 40 years in prison if convicted.
Testimony won’t resume until Jan. 22 because of a scheduling conflict with U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges.