- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico U.S. authorities were mum yesterday on whether a paroled tent-revival preacher convicted in Virginia of running a child prostitution ring had left Puerto Rico.
The federal probation office in Puerto Rico planned to issue a statement later about the case of self-appointed evangelist Mario "Tony" Leyva, said Eustaquio Babilonia, the office's director.
Primera Hora newspaper reported that Leyva had until Thursday to leave the island after federal authorities gave him 72 hours' notice Tuesday. Daniel Crandall, his attorney in Roanoke, said Thursday it was his understanding Leyva would leave that day. Mr. Crandall could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Leyva, 55, arrived in the U.S. Caribbean territory Oct. 14, six months after his release from prison on parole after serving 11 years of a 20-year term. But Puerto Rican authorities said they did not want to assume supervision of a man prosecutors said molested hundreds of young boys.
Federal authorities said they made a decision to cancel a temporary permit allowing Leyva to stay on the island for 90 days, since Puerto Rican authorities denied him permission to permanently relocate.
Mr. Crandall has said his client was tortured by inmates in prison.
The attorney has said he doesn't know where Leyva might live on his return. Previously he had said Leyva feared for his safety in Roanoke because several of his victims still live there, and that Leyva's attempts to receive permission to move overseas and out of state were repeatedly denied.
Leyva's wife, Sherry Lynne, who moved to Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, four months ago, urged authorities to let her husband "live in peace," Primera Hora reported Tuesday. She married him while he was behind bars.
The family repeatedly ignored knocks on the door of their home.
Leyva pleaded guilty in federal court in Roanoke in 1988 to charges that he and two associates conspired to molest youngsters in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Ohio and Indiana.
Leyva proclaimed his innocence Tuesday, telling Notiuno radio the charges were "a fabrication of the government."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide