{Hardcover, Published by Prometheus Books in 1996...Click Here to Order!}

Page last updated May 7, 2002, by the author of Brother Tony's Boys, Mike Echols


From November 22, 2000, until April 30, 2002, the damnable child molester extraordinare "Brother" Tony Leyva was an inmate in the Commonwealth of Virginia's maximum security Brunswick Prison near  Lawrenceville, Virginia, in Brunswick County, Virginia.  Just before Thanksgiving of 2000, he was picked up by Virginia authorities at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Medical Facility for Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where he had been held in solitary confinement for the past two years in an effort to keep him from being murdered by other federal inmates, a constant problem for Brother Tony since he could not keep his mouth shut about his crimes.  Leyva then served a bit over 17 months of his 27 month sentence for orally sodomizing young boys he coerced into traveling with him on his bogus tent revivals in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

But on Tuesday, April 30, 2002, Virginia State Parole Officers attached an electronic monitoring device to Brother Tony's ankle and then drove Brother Tony to Roanoke, Virginia, and checked him into the Jefferson Motor Lodge at 616 South Jefferson Street in downtown Roanoke.  Several of his former victims are themselves now locked up in Virginia prisons and rumor was that some of them planned to hold a necktie party for Leyva.  Since Virginia will not put him in protective custody unless an attempt on his life is made while in their custody, this was a real threat for Brother Tony since while in federal prison he had been seriously attacked three times:  once scalding water was poured on his genitals while he was sleeping; another time a "shank" (i.e., homemade prison knife) was used to slash his abdomen and he required 38 stitches; and the a noose was put around his neck and he was pulled up and out of bed screaming for his life.  And now, with his having been released from prison on April 30, 2002, the best that can be hoped for is that the first attempt on his life by one or more of his former victims will be successful!

And to see Brother Tony as he looks today and to check his current location, click here!

Copyright (c) 1999, Roanoke Times

Tuesday, January 26, 1999 - Virginia Section, Metro Edition, Page B3

By Michael Hemphill, Staff Writer for the Roanoke Times


SUMMARY: The U.S. Parole Commission set Nov. 23, 2000, as Leyva's
mandatory parole date, giving him credit for good behavior.

A self-ordained minister, who once claimed to have sexually molested at least 100 boys during his preaching tours across the country before being caught in Roanoke County in 1987, has lost his most recent bid for parole.

Mario Ivan Leyva, called Brother Tony by his followers, was scheduled to be paroled last October from federal prison after serving 10 years of his 20-year sentence. But an outcry from victims' families, child advocates, the Roanoke federal judge and prosecutor in his case and several U.S. congressmen forced parole officials to rethink their decision. 

His case was heard again Jan. 6, but the U.S. Parole Commission did not reveal its decision until Monday [Jan 25]. The commission decided to rescind its earlier decision, said Tom Kowalski, case operations manager, but set Nov. 23, 2000, as Leyva's mandatory parole date, giving him credit for good behavior.

"If he escaped or got serious misconduct, then the Bureau of Prisons could forfeit his good time," Kowalski said. "That generally doesn't happen, but it could."

Citing privacy concerns for the prisoner, Kowalski wouldn't say what prompted the board's decision.

In earlier interviews, however, Leyva's wife, who lives in Hendersonville, N.C., and Mike Echols, a California-based child advocate who wrote a book about Leyva, said Leyva went berserk at the re-hearing when the mother of one of the boys he molested showed up to testify.

Leyva, 52, remains at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., his home ever since an inmate at another prison threw scalding water on his lap, causing third-degree burns.

"Parents and others who care about protecting children from the manipulations of sexual predators would do well to explore Brother Tony's Boys...Mike Echols is right on the mark."  + Frank Fitzpatrick, Founder, Survivor Connections, Inc. +
Here is a review of Brother Tony's Boys which appeared in the AMERICAN BOOKMAN’S WEEKLY issue of April 27, 1998

   Mike Echols.  Brother Tony’s Boys:  The Largest Case of Child Pornography in U.S. History:  The True Story. 8vo, 374p., $32 plus shipping. Prometheus Books (59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228, 800/421-0351). With illustrations, bibliography.

     Mario Ivan "Tony" Leyva was a charismatic and self-ordained Pentecostal evangelist who preached at revivals throughout the southeastern United States over a period of more than two decades.  He was also a serial child molester who seduced hundreds of young teenage boys he met in the course of his preaching.  Before his 1988 conviction for sexual assault, Leyva also organized a child prostitution network in conjunction with two other preachers, Ed Morris and Freddie Herring.

     Even after his conviction, many of Leyva’s followers continued to assert his innocence.  This despite the fact that psychological evaluation after conviction presented a clear picture of Leyva, Morris, and Herring.

     Three psychologist who had examined them at the Federal Correction Institute (FCI) in Butner, North Carolina, during the five months prior to their sentencing, said that there was little chance that the three evangelists could be rehabilitated and that they would pose a risk to society if released.

     According to the court testimony of one of the three psychologists, Edward Landis, Tony Leyva was not only a pedophile, but suffered from narcissistic personality disorder.  This, he went on to explain, contributed to Leyva’s need for adulation and admiration from others and made it difficult for him to accept responsibility for his own behavior.  Leyva believed he was "very special, uniquely important," Landis said.

     Born in Miami, Florida, to a Cuban-American family, Tony Leyva began preaching at age 17 in the Tuxedo Pentecostal Church in Tuxedo, North Carolina, and quickly became popular for his ability to preach to parents and their teenage children alike.  Even as he was collecting donations from the parents for his preaching, he was also selecting his adolescent sexual partners, many of whom kept his behavior a secret.

     There were, however, numerous reports of sexual assaults to police, but surprisingly enough, these were not acted upon.  Sometimes, Leyva’s "Two-Week Holy Ghost Revivals" were considerable shorter, as he struck his tents and left towns where one of his victims had talked and where Leyva found himself unwelcome.  Only in the 1980s were the reports taken seriously, yet even when the FBI became involved, investigation was often cursory.

     Based on interviews with Leyva’s first wife, and many former followers, including Macalynn Embert, whose two young sons were among Leyva’s victims, Brother Tony’s Boys paints an alarming picture of people beguiled by appearances of respectability, and of a man exploiting and betraying trust.

     Mike Echols traces Leyva’s rise and fall, as well as the fact that Leyva’s ministerial activities have continued during his imprisonment, as editor of Eschatology Digest, published by his mother.  Echols calls the publication "an excellent example of Leyva’s continuing narcissistic self-aggrandizement, even as he languishes in federal prison."  Leyva will receive a statutory parole hearing in October 1998.

     Echols, whose background includes a 13-year period working as a social worker with emotionally, physically, and sexually abused children, is author of "I Know My First Name Is Steven" (1991, Pinnacle Books, New York).  Echols’ earlier book recounts the story of the 1972 kidnapping of a seven-year-old boy by a child molester.  The boy was not located and returned to his family until 1980.

     Unflinchingly, Echols examines the unsettling phenomenon of child molestation, and discusses the implications of unwillingness to acknowledge proofs of its existence, even as the lives of children continue to be poisoned by molesters who often remain in positions of trust they can exploit.

The inset photograph from the cover of Brother Tony's Boys:  Brother Tony Leyva with (left to right) Macalynn Embert's young sons, Jason (11) and Kenny (14) at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in 1986.  (Photo by Macalynn Embert)
Evangelist Brother Tony Leyva poses playfully in stocks at Walt Disney World in 1986.  (Photo by Macalynn Embert)

Click Here for more Pictures

Brother Tony's Boys is the true story of egomaniacal Pentecostal evangelist Brother Tony Leyva who for over 25 years used the Bible and his status as an "anointed prophet of God" to gain access to, seduce, and then repeatedly sexually assault over 800 young sons of his enthralled followers throughout 23 states from North Carolina to Florida to Texas to Illinois to New York and then through Virginia back to North Carolina.

And just how could such heinous acts go undetected for over two decades?  Read on...

Synopsis of Brother Tony's Boys...

Brother Tony's Boys peels back the multiple layers of pederast-evangelist Tony Leyva's double life to answer this and other bone-chilling questions. It details how Tony Leyva brought his old-fashioned hellfire-and-brimstone revivals to small towns and cities scattered from Florida to New York and from Illinois to Louisiana as a self-styled "Super Christian" wearing a Superman-like cape.

He made the rounds of his well established revival circuit bilking the faithful out of millions of dollars in cash, jewelry, cars, and real estate while performing fake healings night after night.  But even that was not enough for this egomaniacal pederast:  at night, after preaching his revivals, "Brother Tony" was busy seducing two or more his followers young sons and then bedding them taking them in his motor home or motel room and sexually assaulting them "in the name of God."   And one night he even made his own wife sleep on the floor so that he could take a 13-year-old boy he had flown into Roanoke, Virginia, into their own bed and have sex with him.

While this self-proclaimed "Prophet of God" manipulated followers and sexually assaulted their sons--some as young as eight--he used many of his older victims to procure still more victims, frequently their younger brothers and cousins.  Then, beginning in 1983, Brother Tony pimped some "Tony's boys" to other Pentecostal pederast-preachers and on occasion to U.S. government officials [FBI agents?] who used official planes to fly in for trysts with boys at Roanoke, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Using exclusive eyewitness accounts of scores of Brother Tony's victims and their parents, investigative journalist Mike Echols--author of the bestseller I Know My First Name Is Steven (the basis for the five-time Emmy-nominated NBC-TV miniseries of the same title)--strips bare the world of independent Pentecostals to reveal how this growing Christian sect engendered a massive, blind level of devotion so great that even the victims' parents could not see the evil in their midst.

Brother Tony's Boys is an extremely important story which serves as a warning about the free-wheeling independent Pentecostal faith as well as a cautionary tale for parents warning them to beware of the wolves in sheep's clothing to whom we sometimes entrust our children.
An Excerpt from Brother Tony's Boys

     The only one-on one interview Tony Leyva ever permitted me [author Mike Echols] took place in the Roanoke City Jail the morning of Tuesday, March 28, 1989, the day after Judge Turk formally sentenced him to twenty years in federal prison.  In this extremely strange exchange, Brother Tony claimed that it had not been he who had sexually assaulted the boys but, rather, "Satan entered my body and did it!  It wasn't really me doing it!  It was Satan that used me to do it!  But God came to me in my cell last night and told me that He is going to turn this whole thing around.  God said He's gonna send me back out to preach and use my life as an example to people about how Satan can mess up your life and how God can come in then and straighten it out!"

     When asked why he pled guilty in open court, Tony responded:  "Well, it was probably just God talking at the time and I don't understand it myself.  Whatever I said then, it must have been God talking 'cause last night I turned my whole life over to God and any utterances that come out of my mouth in court come from God.  He said them, not me!"

     When Tony's friend the Reverend James R. Carter heard this disingenuous alibi for having sexually assaulted the boys, he sputtered:  "This is getting rotten to the core!  Jesus!  I'll tell Tony to his face that that don't make no sense!...That's all double talk!  It sounds like he turned his story around!  That don't say nothin' about obeying the Word of God!...God don't do that kind of badness!  No way!"  --   (Chapter 18, page 274)

In September of 1988, a Commonwealth of Virginia jury in Salem, Virginia, found Mario Ivan "Tony" Leyva guilty of sexually assaulting several young teenage boys who had served him as "Tony's Boys".  He was sentenced to serve 2 and 1/4 years in state prison (which he has yet to serve and which he will have to serve upon his release from Federal Prison).

The next month Leyva and his fellow Pentecostal preachers, Freddie M. Herring and Edward Rias Morris, struck plea bargains with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Roanoke, Virginia, and all three were ordered to report to the Federal Correctional Facility at Butner, North Carolina, on October 25, 1988, for complete psychological evaluations prior to their formal sentencings.

On March 29, 1989, in Federal District Court in Roanoke, Virginia, Senior Federal District Court Judge John C. Turk formally sentenced Leyva to 20 years in prison; Herring to 12 years in prison; and Morris to 15 years in prison.  Morris was released on "compassionate parole" in 1992 due to his being diagnosed with AIDS.  At last report, he was at death's door in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  In 1993 Herring was also released on "compassionate parole", in his case due to his being diagnosed with "heart problems".  He returned to Columbus, Georgia, and today he lives near Tony Leyva's old headquarters church in northeast Columbus.

Echols tells this almost unbelievable story grippingly from his perspective as an investigative journalist and a social worker who--having spent 13 years counseling child victims of emotional, physical, and sexual assault--thoroughly understands their plight and the need to truthfully expose the massive emotional damage that such criminal acts cause.

If you know of someone interested in producing a theatrical film, television movie, or television miniseries of Brother Tony's Boys, please e-mail me at!

The Epilogue to Brother Tony's Boys

Brother Tony's Boys concludes with Echols' 52-page Epilogue which, among other stories, thoroughly exposes the egregious pedophile organization NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which since 1985 the author has infiltrated twice and continues to shadow.  He also touches on cases of the sexual assault of boys by Roman Catholic priests and youth leaders in the Hare Krishnas.  And he presents overviews of several other U.S. cases in which young boys were sexually assaulted before summing this subject up by authoritatively presenting effective means by which we can address our massive national problem of repeat child sexual assaults by sexual predators and how best to protect our children from them.

Illegal Nuclear Waste Dumping at The Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant

Additionally, in his Epilogue Echols goes into considerable detail about his life threatening experiences, bogus criminal conviction thanks to the shady politicians and law enforcement personnel in Clear Creek County, Colorado, and his having to flee Colorado in 1989 for his life due to his 1984 discovery of this illegal dumping of nuclear waste, a story which cost an acquaintance of his and a Chicago-based journalist their lives (a story told on NBC-TV's Unsolved Mysteries).  Indeed, Echols was the first journalist to discover and investigate giant defense contractor Rockwell International's illegal dumping of nuclear waste from the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant near Boulder, Colorado, into the main shaft at the Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine at Idaho Springs, Colorado.  This presaged Rockwell International's Rocky Flats operation being descended upon by over 70 F.B.I. Agents and U.S. Marshals with search warrants in a raid early one June morning in 1989, a raid in which Federal law enforcement seized two tractor trailer loads of documents and other evidence.

This material seized was examined by a Federal Grand Jury which completed its term by asking U.S. Attorney Michael Norton of Denver to file criminal charges against five officials each with Rockwell International and the U.S. Department of Energy.  However, Norton--who attempted to learn what Echols knew and later chased him to California--refused to do so and instead offered Rockwell International a "sweetheart" plea bargain in which the contractor agreed in Denver Federal Court in 1991 to pay a $18.5 million fine to help clean up the nuclear wastes they illegally dumped at the plant itself...a cleanup that in 1991 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated will cost taxpayers over (US)$200 million.  In 1999 it is estimated that this clean up will cost taxpayers (US) $5.7 billion and will take until the year 2020!

Mike Echols has completed a theatrical film treatment of this story of damnable duplicity and criminal activity by the government and "The Military-Industrial Complex" which President Dwight Eisenhower warned the public about in 1961.

Entitled An Ongoing Criminal Enterprise ©, a major Hollywood director has expressed interest in this proposed project which you can read by clicking on  An Ongoing Criminal Enterprise.

© 2000-2002 - Questions or Comments Welcome

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