Life in prison for former ‘Hotdogs for Hope’ minister found guilty of sex crimes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A former Jacksonville minister was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.

Action News Jax first told you in March of 2020 when Michael Linkenauger was arrested and charged for sexual battery and lewd or lascivious acts. A jury found Linkenauger guilty back in February of 2023.


A judge heard from the now 17-year-old victim who asked the judge to hand down the maximum penalty.

“My world has been turned upside down by Mr. Linkenauger’s actions,” he said, adding the man was a father figure to him. “I don’t believe he will change.”

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Linkenager had taken the boy out of town and invited him to spend the night at his home, according to a police report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

“I have not been a saint through this, but I haven’t done remotely close to what they say,” Linkenauger said in court.

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Linkenauger also said he felt he had no voice in all of this, claiming his defense attorney ignored his several attempts to give him documents showing his innocence. He said there’s discrepancies in the victim’s story.

His attorney filed a motion for a re-trial. It was denied by the judge.

The judge addressed the victim in court saying, “instead of being a victim today [Thursday], you decided to be a fighter. You’re a survivor.”

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