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.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
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.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“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.
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
$17.95 — 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.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)