Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Donna Fiore says Scientology is hounding her for dirt on stepdaughter Leah Remini

[Donna Fiore and her stepdaughter, Leah Remini]

Last week we told you about a new smear video that had been uploaded to the website the Church of Scientology uses to attack Leah Remini and her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. The video was posted just hours before a new two-hour Aftermath special was aired on Memorial Day, last Monday night.

The video featured Leah’s estranged father, George Remini, 69, and his 36-year-old wife, Dana Connaughton. The two of them were apparently filmed at their dining room table, and during one point in the 18-minute video, we could hear a woman’s voice asking questions.

The video appeared on a page at the attack website that also contained an email written several years ago by Leah Remini’s stepmother, Donna Fiore. It was a brutal email, but we called up Donna and she explained that it was written just days after the death of her youngest daughter, Stephanie, Leah’s half-sister, and her emotions were raw. She characterized it as typical of “an Italian family,” and said it did not reflect how she felt about her stepdaughter. She said she had no idea how Scientology had a copy of the email.

Donna told us that she called the Church of Scientology and asked about the email, and also asked when she would get to film her own rebuttal video. She was told that Scientology was willing to fly her that night to the Washington DC to make her own video for Scientology’s use. She told us she wasn’t serious and was just “winding up” the people at the church.

But since that day, utter chaos has visited Donna’s life. On Friday, she told us that Scientologists suddenly showed up at her home, and they have spent several days showing up and calling her, hounding her about making a video. She even says they promised to indemnify her if, while recording the video, she said something libelous and Leah decided to sue her over it.


“The first time they came I was alone and I didn’t answer the door,” she says about the woman from Scientology and a man who was with her. “I ended up talking to her on Friday and left her with very clear terms. I am not doing anything derogatory to Leah, and that’s it.”

But then, Saturday morning, “the door rang at 8:30 am, then 9:30, and then 10 o’clock. And then I called the police. But they were gone by the time the police came. She then called me and asked me to lunch,” Donna says with a laugh. “I have been under some kind of invasion.”

Donna tells us she has no plans to give in to Scientology’s pressure tactics. Instead, she wrote for us a statement that she wanted to make public. And here it is.

My name is Donna Fiore, formerly Donna Remini. I am Leah Remini’s stepmother and have been for more than forty years, since she was five years old. She still is and always will be that to me. I was married to her biological father George Remini for 28 of those years.

George Remini, 69, and his current 36-year-old wife, Dana Connaughton-Remini, recently did a video interview for Scientology badmouthing Leah, (his own daughter) with lies, slander, and more lies. I’m taking this opportunity to refute George and Dana’s totally false and vicious narrative against Leah, as well as those allegations made against me.

I was never involved in any way with Scientology, and during the time Leah and her sister Nicole were members, I always felt it was trying to control Leah in every way possible, as well as trying to separate her from her family. If she and I hadn’t loved each other, our relationship would have never survived. We did, we do, and it has.

Scientologists masquerading as reporters for Scientology’s propaganda magazine, Freedom, have called me repeatedly and then showed up to my home. I never gave them my phone number or address and yet they showed up, unannounced, and have harassed me to give them dirt on my stepdaughter Leah, even offering to fly me to D.C to interview me there.

When I explained to them that Leah was a victim of an abusive and neglectful father (as were his four other daughters) they wanted nothing to do with that information, but continued to try and press me for “dirt.”

Clearly, they have an agenda and it is not an agenda to get the truth.

When I explained to the Scientologist who showed up at my home that I had nothing to say about Leah that could help them, she implied that if I said anything on video for them about Leah that was libelous, the Church of Scientology and its magazine Freedom would cover my legal fees.


They have come to my home seven times in three days. On Saturday, I called the police in hopes that that they would get the message.

For Scientology to go to these extremes says a lot about what this organization is: An organization that knows no bounds to attack its former members.

This is not the work of a legitimate church.


As a child of a broken home — in the 1950’s yet — I empathized with Leah and Nicole going through divorcing parents, getting used to a new woman, and meeting new siblings. It was hard for me and because of that, I took my step-mothering responsibilities seriously. My feelings for them are maternal. Their mother Vicki and I never ever argued with each other in all that time, and we still haven’t. In fact, whenever we do get together, we laugh our asses off.

As for their father, George never had any time for his daughters, and I find his self-serving “poor pitiful me” act sickening.

I left George Remini in 2003, and I also left the state in order to get as far away from him as I could.

As for Dana, although she is younger than George’s own daughters, she is old enough to know exactly what she is doing. She is using Leah’s name to further her own agenda. Dana has met Leah twice in her lifetime; once when Leah flew her and George out to visit with her in California and another when they appeared on Leah’s TLC show. Dana is not Leah’s stepmother. She has never met George’s other daughters nor has she met any of George’s grandchildren. Two are now in college. Not one greeting card, not one call from either of them.

Sofia, Leah’s daughter, has consistently reached out to them over her 13 years of life, and not one email or call has been answered by either of them.

George is a criminal. He is weak, small, petty, greedy, vulgar, crude, a liar, a thief, a user, an abuser and a manipulator of the highest magnitude. And that is being kind.

These are not the words of a bitter ex-wife, but rather the words of a woman who put up with this for close to three decades and finally found my strength to leave.

These are the words of a stepmother who did the best she could do for her stepchildren, and now doing what I always tried to do for Leah and her sisters: to defend them the best I know. I did then and I will do it now.

This is the simple truth concerning George Remini and his wife Dana: Their exaggerations and lies bear no resemblance to the truth.


Drug-Free New York infiltrators hold their annual awards

After a bit of a panic when it looked like they were running short of sponsorships just a few weeks ago (“We are 3 weeks away…We need 2 more tables sponsored in order to complete our budget!”), Queens dentist Bernard Fialkoff and daughter Meghan pulled off their annual Drug-Free Hero Awards gala last night in Great Neck, NY. According to Eventbright, they were looking for table sponsorships up to $40,000 (with a $1,219.95 fee), and we can only assume they managed to land a few judging by the size of the crowd.

We’ve been reporting for years that the Fialkoffs have been infiltrating New York City’s schools with L. Ron Hubbard’s malarkey about drug abuse, and that they’ve often hoodwinked the New York Police Department into helping them. And once again, they wrangled some folks into thinking they were attending some kind of worthwhile program last night, when the truth is, if L. Ron Hubbard wasn’t being promoted, the Fialkoffs wouldn’t bother.

Among the attendees was another tireless Scientology promoter, Kerri Kasem, handbag designer and Scientologist Rebecca Minkoff, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts guitarist Ricky Byrd along with various NYPD officials and other minor political figures.

It looked like a fine time was had by all.


[The glamorous Meghan Fialkoff]


[Her father, Queens dentist Bernie Fialkoff]


[Handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff]


[Sober guitarist Ricky Byrd]


[Daughter of Casey Kasem and hard-working Scientology promoter in her own right, Kerri Kasem]

Here’s the full list:



Bonus items from our tipsters

No lie, Sixto Ruiseco may be the most “fully hatted” Scientologist of all time…




Wow, we’re getting close to the start of HowdyCon 2017 in Denver. And we had a slight change in logistics from our caterer for our dinner on Saturday night, June 24. If you plan to go, make sure you have confirmed with Kim O’Brien, our coordinator, and visit our HowdyCon website where she has instructions for how you can pay for the dinner fee that night. You need to do that right away to make sure you’ll be included in the Saturday night festivities, which include:

— London-based Australian journalist Steve Cannane talking about his book Fair Game
— A spoken-word performance from former Sea Org official Claire Headley
— Cathy Schenkelberg performing for us scenes from her one-woman show, “Squeeze My Cans”

You don’t want to miss out, so please visit the convention page and get in contact with Kim.

HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25 at the Residence Inn Denver City Center. Go here to start making your plans.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,772 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,529 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,875 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,369 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,409 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,121 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 647 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,736 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,876 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,196 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,171 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 527 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,829 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 936 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,338 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,211 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 792 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,297 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,541 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,650 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 5, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email