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‘Going Clear’ subject Tom DeVocht visited by Burbank PD after suspicious anonymous tip

Tom_Devocht_GC3We’ve been reporting that some of the ex-Scientologists who took part in Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear have been experiencing a sharp increase in the amount of surveillance and harassment they normally have to put up with.

Perhaps no one has experienced more suspicious activity recently than Tom DeVocht, a former church executive who was close to Scientology leader David Miscavige and who revealed that Miscavige took pleasure in mocking Tom Cruise behind his back. DeVocht says in Going Clear that Miscavige had the actor’s auditing session notes sent to him daily, which contained intimate details of Cruise’s sex life, and Miscavige would share those secrets with others, including DeVocht, while drinking Scotch and laughing at Cruise.

Perhaps it’s those embarrassing disclosures which explain why DeVocht regularly experiences so much interference by private investigators. But then yesterday, things moved into new territory. DeVocht was visited by narcotics division police officers with the Burbank Police Department who said they had been tipped that DeVocht was dealing drugs in the area.

There are very good reasons to suspect that the Burbank police are being pranked, and DeVocht is livid — he’s sure Scientology is behind a classic operation, and he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop in coming days.

Here’s what happened. DeVocht lives in a rented house in a quiet Burbank neighborhood. Nearby there’s a park, and he has spotted private investigators staked out there watching him, which he reported to the Burbank police.

Yesterday afternoon around 3:30 pm, two men arrived at his house. They said they were police officers with the narcotics division of the Burbank Police Department. Officer Adam Baumgarten flashed his badge, handed Tom his business card, and asked if they could come in and talk.


DeVocht let them in, and Baumgarten pulled out a letter-sized manila envelope and took two photographs from it. They appeared to have been taken from a distance with a long lens, and they showed DeVocht sitting in his white Kia Sorento with the door open, and he could be seen holding a quart-sized plastic bag with something white inside. Scrawled on one of the photos was DeVocht’s name and address.

DeVocht says Baumgarten told him, “Somebody dropped this off on my desk. I don’t know why it was on my desk. But we were tipped off that you might be dealing drugs, and the photos show you supposedly with drugs in your car.”

At that point, Tom tells us, he thought he might be the victim of a prank. He said he wanted to get verification of Baumgarten’s identity, so he called the number on the business card the officer had given him. When it reached the Burbank Police Department, Tom accepted that the officers were who they said they were.

Tom then explained what they were seeing in the photographs. He and his girlfriend often go on hikes and like to carry snacks with them in his car. The quart bag he was holding, he pointed out, was filled with popcorn.

“It’s not a big deal. We’re not here to arrest you,” Baumgarten told him.

“It’s so strange to me, Tony, that a police outfit would go knocking on someone’s door to check out a drug lead, and then they would say, ‘Please don’t do that in Burbank.’ And he seemed a little nervous, which was weird to me,” Tom told us.

DeVocht says he explained to Baumgarten and his partner that he was featured in a movie, Going Clear, which, in part, portrays how the Church of Scientology employs private investigators to run dirty tricks on people the church considers enemies. Tom explained that he was a former church official who had become a whistle-blower, and that he regularly experienced a lot of surveillance and harassment. He was sure the photographs had been taken by private eyes in the employ of the church, and that the anonymous tip was Scientology’s attempt to get him into trouble with the police.

Tom says he asked to get copies of the photos, but the officers refused. They also turned him down when he asked if he could take a photograph of them.

“At that point, he really seemed like he wanted to leave,” Tom says.

DeVocht posted a short writeup of the encounter to his Facebook page, and called and left us a message. We got back to him and then called Officer Baumgarten. After we explained why we were calling, Baumgarten told us he couldn’t answer our questions, which is not unusual. We asked him for the name of the department’s public information officer, and he gave us two names.

We left a phone message for one, and sent a lengthy, detailed email to the other.

We then talked to DeVocht again, and explained that not only did it seem obvious that Scientology’s private eyes were up to their old tricks, but that the operation might still have more steps to come. DeVocht asked us what we meant, and we told him we were aware of a similar operation that resulted in a police report being leaked to the media in an attempt to smear the target of the scheme.

Tom then wrote an email to Baumgarten, which he shared with us.

“I told you that I was recently one of the eight people featured in Going Clear, a documentary about Scientology. I am an ex-Scientologist. Scientology is trying to ruin me with websites, on Twitter etc. They have had PIs following me, and I have reported this to the Burbank Police department — it should be on file. Please take a look online for my name and you will see this for yourself. Also, please watch Going Clear or at least find out about it.”

DeVocht wrote that he was concerned Scientology would try to get a copy of any report that Baumgarten wrote and leak it to a friendly press organization, resulting in a story about DeVocht being investigated as a drug dealer.

“I would appreciate you looking into this matter a little — like who might have dropped the note off? There are cameras in your office, I am sure,” he wrote. “I’m no drug dealer. I am an ex-Scientologist who has spoken out against them, and they will do anything to try to stop me, so I am concerned and wanted to make you aware of this.”

In an email, we asked Sergeant Adam Cornils, the department’s spokesman, if Burbank PD would begin an investigation of who dropped off the photos on Baumgarten’s desk.

We’ll let you know if we get an answer back.

UPDATE: Tom DeVocht has posted a couple of photographs on Facebook, and here’s his caption: “Just thought to go to my car and pull out of the center console the remainder of the drugs Scientology took pictures of and sent to the police to warn them I am a dealer… I polished off the popcorn I guess. This is all I had left… pistachios, dried fruit, almonds, walnuts and some dog treats… Crap… I’m running low!”



‘West Wing’ set for Camp David scenes trying to become a Narconon center

Narconon may be struggling in some parts of the country, under siege in dozens of lawsuits resulting from patient deaths and allegations of credit card fraud, but heck, how about a new Scientology drug rehab in the wilds of Maryland?

The Frederick News-Post reported yesterday that owners of the Trout Run resort — which at one time served as a getaway for President Herbert Hoover and was used as a backdrop when West Wing wanted to film scenes portraying Camp David — are seeking historic designation, which would allow it to be turned into a 12-bed rehab center.

Just three days ago, we told you that a new class-action lawsuit had been filed in California which accuses all Narconon centers of operating deceitfully. While they advertise themselves as a secular program that gives patients individualized drug counseling, in fact the program delivers only Scientology training.

But hey, Maryland, if you want to get in on the action of baking addicts in a sauna and having them yell at ashtrays on their way up L. Ron Hubbard’s Bridge to Total Freedom, go for it!


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Hey, this is in New York. What are the chances they’d let us attend?


Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!


Saturday Night Live spoofs Scientology

This is so good, we’re hoping Lorne Michaels doesn’t have any pets…



Posted by Tony Ortega on April 4, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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