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TONIGHT: LA Sheriff Lee Baca to Grace Scientology Gala, Days after “Celebrity Center” Employee Arrested for Planning to Kill a Cop

Lee Baca shilling for Scientology at an event in November

Lee Baca shilling for Scientology at an event in November

On Tuesday, Scientology’s Director of Public Relations for its Las Vegas “Celebrity Center,” Devon Newman, was arrested for her part in a bizarre plot to kidnap, try, and execute a local police officer to make a political point for the “sovereign citizens” movement.

Tonight, Scientology’s Celebrity Center in Hollywood holds its 44th annual gala, and besides the usual church celebrities who are expected to show, we’ve been told that Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca plans to make an appearance early in the evening.

For years, Baca has been an enthusiastic supporter of Scientology, showing up at many church events. But this time, we’re wondering if any press covering the event will dare to ask him about the Celebrity Center employee who was planning to kill a cop, or about Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavge, who hasn’t been seen in public in six years.

Baca runs the county sheriff’s office, but it was the other law enforcement outfit in the city, the Los Angeles Police Department, that recently checked up on a missing-person report about Shelly Miscavige filed by actress Leah Remini on August 5. By Thursday, August 8, the LAPD had closed the case after two detectives met with Shelly and determined that she was OK. When we subsequently asked Lt. Andre Dawson of the LAPD if Shelly had been alone or with church officials when the detectives questioned her, Dawson told us that was classified information.

The LAPD had done its job — determine that Shelly is not technically “missing” — and closed the case. But that didn’t answer any of the questions Scientologists (current and former) have about the wife of leader David Miscavige. We’ve still heard nothing from Shelly or the church to explain why a woman who used to help run the church with her husband and who was seen at all major church events suddenly vanished in late 2005 or early 2006. Since that time Shelly has been seen at no church events and can’t even visit her remaining family members. Why not? Why can’t the church just give the public an explanation of why this woman disappeared and where she’s been? (See our previous story about where we think she is.)

As we reported earlier, our inside church sources told us they were hearing rumors that Miscavige would trot Shelly out for the Hollywood Celebrity Centre Gala. Will it happen tonight? One thing’s for sure, it will be tough for the folks showing up to protest the event to spot Shelly one way or the other. All week, the facility on Franklin Ave. has been preparing for the event with what is always very tight security. Usually, protesters are kept far away from the action. We’ll let you know if we get any accounts from inside about what happens tonight.



Devon Newman during a court appearance Friday. Photo by Leila Navidi, Las Vegas Sun

Devon Newman during a court appearance Friday. Photo by Leila Navidi, Las Vegas Sun


Late last night, we made several updates to our story about Devon Newman, the 67-year-old Las Vegas woman who was arrested for her part in a bizarre “sovereign citizens” plot to kidnap and kill a cop. She had also been working as the PR Director for Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Las Vegas, and before that had been a Scientology “Sea Org” worker.

Our updates included an official non-statement statement from Scientology (“Membership in groups which advocate violation of the law disqualifies an individual from membership in the Church of Scientology”), as well as the 20-page police report which provided many details from the four-month investigation of Newman and David Brutsche, 42, who seemed to be the real catalyst in the case.

We read the police report carefully, looking for any clues that would answer how serious Newman’s role in the plot was. Here are some highlights from the report that may help answer that question…

June 14: “Newman stated she was going to create a master list of words and what these words represented so they could all talk in code on the telephone.”

July 8: “Brutsche said they have to have people that are willing to die, because if you do something like this and go to jail, you will never get out. Brutsche said he is not willing to go to jail, he is willing to die. During this time, Newman was listening and agreeing with everything that was being said. Brutsche reiterate that the training for this would be extensive. Newman then added that we have to get to [the police] before they get on their radios.”

July 15: “Newman said she that she was nervous about things and asked [an undercover agent] if they would unplug their television from the wall so that the authorities couldn’t listen to the meeting. [An agent] then addressed Devon and wanted to know what her commitment level was, asking her if she was in this operation wholly or not. Newman told [the agent] that she didn’t feel that she was going to be of any use to them on the street, even though she has no problem with shooting someone that is threatening them. Newman said that she believes her contribution to the group is more on the administrative and research side but that she is in with them and what they are doing.”

July 15: “Brutsche asked if the [undercover agents] had a place or property to take the officers to once they were arrested. Newman stated that ‘it didn’t matter what the place was as long as we had a way to restrain the individuals so they couldn’t escape.’ Newman said that we could ‘…get a place with either cinder block walls or something. You have to keep them separate from others that would be in the jail.’ Newman further stated ‘whatever place we get to house the prisoners in, has to be a place where people couldn’t hear the prisoners screaming.'”

July 25: “Brutsche reiterated that they could train inside the shop in the air conditioning, and the group agreed to conduct some training on the spot. Newman said that she would take on the role as a police officer and that the [undercover agents] and Brutsche could take the role as the people coming to take her into custody….Newman talked about having hollow point ammunition rather than regular ammunition because it wouldn’t over penetrate and go through the other person as easily. This was meant to prevent shooting each other in an accidental cross fire situation.”

August 12: “Brutsche and Newman were brought to a [Las Vegas Metro Police Department]-controlled, undercover single family residence by the [undercover agent]. Brutsche had previously expressed a desire to utilize a house as a makeshift ‘jail’ that could hold the kidnapped police officer. Both subjects were told the residence was vacant and no one was residing there. While at the residence Brutsche and Newman offered the idea of utilizing the house as a ‘jail’ for the kidnapped police officer. Brutsche and Newman located several 2X4 reinforcement boards and steel eye sockets in the garage, along with several power tools and hardware items. Both subjects took the items into the house and began attaching the boards and eye sockets to the main wall of the master bedroom in an an attempt to fortify the room for holding a kidnapped police officer or officers. Newman specifically took the initial lead in attaching fortifications to the wall.”

August 15: “Newman raises concern with Brutsche and the [undercover agent] over the disposal of the murdered police officer and the destruction of the evidence. Newman claims that they will need to destroy the forensic evidence on the officer’s body and offers up the use of bleach and vinegar to do so. Newman states the dead officer can be placed into a heavy duty plastic bag and they can pour bleach and vinegar all over the body. Newman adds that the bleach and vinegar will destroy all DNA evidence, fingerprints and fibers that may be on the body. The body can be driven to the desert and dumped out of the plastic bag from the back of a truck. Newman claims they should leave the body and keep the bag for later disposal.”

August 20: “During this meeting, [undercover agents] asked both Brutsche and Newman if they were truly prepared to commit a kidnapping and murder of a police officer. Newman replied that she was and reiterated that she wanted to assist with the support portion of the operation. Newman stated she was prepared to assist at the undercover house after the police officer had been kidnapped. Newman [said] she would watch the kidnapped officer and help open the garage to the home once [the agents] and Brutsche arrived with their kidnapped officer.”

After getting assurances from both Brutsche and Newman that they were prepared to follow through with their plan, on August 20 they were taken into custody.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 24, 2013 at 07:00

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