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Scientologists charged with Medi-Cal insurance fraud will stand trial on August 28

 
Our man in Los Angeles, Jeffrey Augustine, did us a huge favor by attending a preliminary hearing yesterday at Los Angeles Superior Court. And that’s why we can tell you that Hanan Islam and her fellow defendants, including three of her own children, are scheduled to go to trial on August 28 for defrauding the state’s Medi-Cal insurance program with the use of a Scientology front operation.

You may not have seen a word about it in the Los Angeles Times, but this is a fairly astounding alleged crime that involved putting unwitting high school students into a Scientology rehab in order to rip off about $3 million from the state. When the scam was uncovered by state insurance investigators, it ended the careers of three prominent African-American educators in Compton, a working-class Los Angeles suburb.

Augustine tells us that Judge Michael Tynan seemed pretty fed up that the case has taken so long to come to trial, nearly three years since charges were brought against Islam, three of her children, and two other employees who allegedly took part in the scam. After granting a continuation to August 28, the judge made it plain that the trial would not be put off any longer. Both sides agreed that the criminal trial would probably last about four sessions on four consecutive afternoons.

Augustine also told us that Islam’s attorneys said the family doesn’t have $3 million to pay in restitution.

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Back in December 2015, we first described the complex scheme.

In 2004 Hanan Islam founded “American Health and Education Clinics,” an entity that was actually run out of the World Literacy Crusade, a well known Scientology front in Compton where she was executive director. From 2010 to 2013, Islam operated the Compton clinic as a Scientology “Narconon” drug rehab center, and managed to figure out a way to bill Medi-Cal for patients undergoing treatment. (Most of the country’s Narconon centers demand cash up front — usually about $33,000 — and don’t tap into state or federal insurance programs.) In order to pump up the numbers of patients, the clinic allegedly worked out a deal with three local high schools, who supplied unwitting students to the clinic to go through the Scientology rehab — even though they were not addicts and didn’t need to undergo drug withdrawal.

In March 2014, the state’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, a part of the state’s Department of Justice under then-Attorney General Kamala Harris (now a US senator), raided the clinic and broke up the scheme. As a result, Rudy Washington, principal of Chavez Continuation High School, Jesse L. Jones, principal of Centennial High School, and Keith Donerson, coach of the legendary football team at Manuel Dominguez High School, were each charged with Medi-Cal fraud in October 2014 and were later fired.

A year later, in October 2015, Hanan Islam was charged with four felony counts, which include grand theft larceny, insurance fraud, Medi-Cal fraud, and failure to file a tax return. She pleaded not guilty to all counts. Three of the 58-year-old’s ten children were also charged with felonies. Zakiyyah Islam, 39, pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft larceny, insurance fraud, and Medi-Cal fraud. Nimat Islam, 41, and Ronnie “Rizza” Islam, 28, pleaded not guilty to insurance fraud and Medi-Cal fraud. Two additional clinic counselors were charged, Bayon Beverly Washington, 44, and George Edward Newby III, 46, who each pleaded not guilty to insurance fraud and Medi-Cal fraud.

World Literacy Crusade was founded in 1993 by Alfreddie Johnson Jr., a Baptist minister who turned to Scientology in the wake of the L.A. riots and became one of Scientology’s most well known African-American figures. It was Johnson who was responsible for bringing musician Isaac Hayes into Scientology in the mid-1990s, and a decade later connected Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan with Scientology in what has become an ongoing and bizarre melding of the two groups.

Johnson not only founded World Literacy Crusade but with Hanan Islam also co-founded American Health and Education Clinics, the entity delivering the Scientology drug rehab program. Hanan Islam has worked for years with Johnson, and they are the parents of Islam’s youngest child, Ronnie, who is better known as Rizza Islam.

But even with the arrests and criminal charges against Hanan Islam, her children, the Compton educators, and other “counselors” at the clinic he co-founded, Alfreddie Johnson himself was not arrested or charged with a crime.

 

[Rev. Alfreddie Johnson Jr. and Tom Cruise celebrate the opening of a new headquarters in 2003 for Applied Scholastics, a Scientology front that tries to get the teaching ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard into public school curricula.]

Alfreddie Johnson, Hanan Islam, and the World Literacy Crusade have a long and colorful history. In 2005, a year after the founding of American Health and Education Clinics, it was visited by a county commission concerned that children from a group home were being sent there for classes. The children had to endure a 3.5-hour round trip of travel time to get to the clinic, and what the commissioners found there appalled them. “One of the class brochures describes a drug and alcohol rehabilitation and detoxification program, but none of the resident children have those problems…Commissioners attended class with the residents and discovered that not only was the program not drug/alcohol related, but all the books, study materials and wall posters were pertaining to L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology.” After that visit, the group home was told to stop sending children to the clinic.

“We use the Narconon program developed by L. Ron Hubbard,” World Literacy Crusade’s website stated on a now-defunct page that is preserved on the Internet Archive.

In 2007, Alfreddie Johnson was tossed out of a seat on the Lynwood City Council when more than 70 percent of voters chose to recall him (along with the mayor and two other council members) after the council had pushed a plan to level part of the town for a 70,000-seat NFL stadium. Hanan Islam had run Johnson’s election campaign.

In 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that the World Literacy Crusade office in Compton was the scene of a near riot as it turned out that the $1,500 vouchers it was selling for Section 8 housing turned out to be fakes.

In 2012, Hanan Islam and Alfreddie Johnson were featured in a series of stories in the Tampa Bay Times which described how they flew to Florida and took over a struggling charter school, imposed Scientology teaching methods over the objections of parents and some teachers (who were fired), diverted large amounts of the school’s state money to the World Literacy Crusade, and left town after riding the charter school into the ground.

“Calling herself ‘Dr. Hanan,’ Islam…said she was a naturopathic physician with two doctorates and a master’s degree from Rochville University and the Eden Institute. Rochville is an online school the Washington Post called ‘a diploma mill.’ No university named ‘Eden Institute’ could be found by the Times,” wrote Tampa Bay Times reporter Drew Harwell, who is now with the Washington Post.

In the summer of 2013, a CNN and Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) project found widespread abuse of the Medi-Cal system. In the wake of that investigation, California regulators shut off funds to dozens of rehab networks while taking a closer look at them. One of the clinics affected was American Health and Education Clinics at the World Literacy Crusade.

CIR reported that the hiatus gave state regulators time to look into rehab operators, some of whom had criminal pasts. One of them was Hanan Islam.

“Throughout her decadelong tenure at American Health and Education Clinics, authorities seemed to take no note of her criminal history. In the mid-’90s, she had pleaded guilty to a federal charge of providing a fake name on a passport application. She also had been convicted of grand theft for forging a $29,000 check,” CIR’s Christina Jewett and Will Evans reported.

Islam and Johnson reacted to the cutoff of Medi-Cal money by going public, trying to rally support for a trip to Sacramento to rattle legislators. Islam wrote an appeal to drum up support for the trip that was posted to Facebook. “Two vans full of supporters will be coming. We need political muscle, our clergy reps, community activists, parents, educators and anyone else who cares about the future of our youth to show up to initiate query into why so many black agencies are being Shut down and treated as criminals prior to any wrong doing being proven?…We take our job seriously. We only exist to serve and unfortunately the 500 youth we have been servicing are suffering…Where are these babies supposed to go?”

On August 10, 2015, the IRS revoked the tax exempt status of the World Literacy Crusade for failing to submit tax forms for three consecutive years. Two months later, the state began filing charges against the people associated with the clinic there.

With his Crusade closed, Alfreddie Johnson appeared to relocate to Florida and advertised that he was doing business with Dubai. His son Rizza, meanwhile, has not let his criminal charges slow down his activities as a figure in the Nation of Islam.

 
Our thanks to Jeffrey for attending court to give us the news about the impending trial. With Laura DeCrescenzo’s trial also scheduled to start in August, the Los Angeles Superior Court is going to be the place to be for Scientology watchers.

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Joel Ferro works at the Atlanta org. His daughter is 15.

 

 
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HOWDYCON IS UPON US!

Hey, we’re just one day from this year’s HowdyCon in Chicago, June 21-23. Here’s what we have in store for you…

Thursday evening: At 6 pm, we’ll kick things off at our main hotel (see the website), where Chee Chalker, our coordinator, will be checking you in and handing out packets of information about the location of HowdyCon events and other things to do in town. That evening, Author Alec Nevala-Lee joins us for a casual round of discussion. We’ve read his forthcoming book, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, and it has some wonderful insights about how Hubbard moved from the pulps to Dianetics. Take this opportunity to get to know him and hear about his book before it makes waves in October!

Friday afternoon: Friday is Fly Day at HowdyCon Chicago! Our buzzing insect can only join us for this event, so plan to hang out with us. Bring your own LEGOs.

Saturday evening: Our big event this year features Chicago Fire actor Christian Stolte, who tells us he’s cooking up a good show for us. It takes place in a theater, and you need to reserve a seat by dropping a note to the proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail as soon as possible.

 

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,151 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,754 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 297 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 185 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,360 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,134 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,908 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,254 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,820 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,488 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,748 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,788 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,500 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,026 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,115 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,255 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,575 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,550 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 906 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,208 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,314 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,717 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,589 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,171 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,676 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,920 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,029 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 20, 2018 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | 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 non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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