Have You Seen This Man?

SINCE HIS FEBRUARY 26 ESCAPE from a federal prison in Florida, rumors about Tom Donahue, a former Dallas-area conservative talk show host (and 1994 congressional candidate), have been flying. A federal agent involved with the search for Donahue, 38, who had been sentenced to more than eight years in prison on conspiracy and money-laundering charges, says that Donahue’s sup-porters at first believed he had been kidnapped by the federal government to keep him quiet. Another rumor held that Donahue escaped because Big Brother was plotting to infect him with the AIDS virus.

Though the paranoid fringe may thrive on such stories, the truth is that Donahue simply walked away from the minimum-security federal prison camp at Saufley Field, a Navy base in Pensacola, only 20 days after his arrival. Donahue had been convicted of conspiracy in a Mexican peso pyramid scheme that took in millions of dollars in the 1980s. He was also co-founder of the Dallas American Liberty Association, a local group that disseminated information on the “freeman’s” or “patriot” movement and offered its members a way to bank leaving no paper trail-an attractive option for many tax protesters. When the ALA crumbled under the weight of the peso debacle, Donahue turned his gift for gab to radio. His “America’s Town Forum” show was picked up by the Talk America Radio Network, which beamed his rantings about the 1RS (the “Internal Robbery Service”) and the U.S. attorney general (“Butcher Reno”) across the land. Since his disappearance, federal agents have learned two things: Donahue has been spotted in the United States. And he is listening to talk radio.

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