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Freed files: Scenes from a government investigation of Scientology

[E-meter machines being taken away during the 1958 raid in Washington]

In 1958, the Food and Drug Administration raided Scientology’s Washington DC org in an investigation of health claims that the church was making with its “E-meter.” Over the next several years, the FDA conducted an intense and widespread investigation of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology before ultimately settling the matter in 1971.

Our dogged researcher R.M. Seibert has been pulling amazing documents out of the FDA files for us, and in them we found such things as L. Ron Hubbard’s high school grades, which had never been published before, as well as a lot of other gems.

There was so much in the pile, we literally haven’t had time to get to it all. Today, we’re going to present some brief snapshots from the investigation that we didn’t want to get overlooked. After going through them, we’re struck by how much the FDA inspectors of the 1960s were running into the same things we’re seeing emerge today, on Leah Remini’s series, for example.

We hope you find these small peeks into what it was like to build a case against Scientology as interesting as we do.


1. The E-meter man and his wife

In 1962, the FDA approached a man named Robert Wingate, who had manufactured Hubbard’s E-meter in Tucson during the late 1950s. By 1962 he had stopped doing so after a disagreement with Hubbard that he refused to go into.

“He stated that Hubbard is now manufacturing and importing the devices from London, England. They have to be purchased from the two schools, ‘Hubbard’s Association of Scientologists International,’ one in Los Angeles and one in Washington, D.C.” a report reads.

But Wingate would tell them little else.

The following summer, however, his wife volunteered a lot more information.

Evelyn Wingate went to the Denver district FDA office in July 1963 saying that her marriage was in trouble, and she suspected her husband was “engrossed in L. Ron Hubbard’s Founding Church of Scientology again and their pseudo religious teachings have no morals or ethics which could only cause more problems for her and her husband.”

She told the FDA that her husband had manufactured about 300 E-meters for Hubbard from October 1958 to March 1960, all of which were sold in the US for between $76.50 and $89.50 each, with 10 percent of each sale going to Hubbard directly.

She said that Hubbard had not been in the US since January 1952 and “he remains in England except for an occasional visit to the United States.”

She gave the FDA L. Ron Hubbard Jr’s address in Bell, California, saying that he had had a falling out with his father.

She also turned over a list of other people who had become embittered with Hubbard and Scientology.

Gladys Carlson of Denver… “very bitter”

Jean Thomason Voris of Denver… “has become disillusioned”

Refa Pastel of Detroit… “has been badly mistreated by members of L. Ron Hubbard’s organization. She reportedly was drugged and forced to make out a new will leaving all her property and belongings to the L. Ron Hubbard Foundation.”

Maxine Farnum of Tucson… “wrote a book titled ‘Promiscuity for [the] Housewife’ from a Scientological viewpoint. Mrs. Wingate stated that this book was widely read among members of L. Ron Hubbard’s organization; that the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard and his Founding Church of Scientology encourages promiscuity among married copules.”


Mrs. Wingate also turned over copies of Scientology literature and lecture tapes, including a “tape in a cellophane bag which is known as the ‘miracle’ tape, also made by L. Ron Hubbard in Phoenix, in 1954.”

Evelyn Wingate said she would be glad to help the FDA in any way she could.

2. Ever-vigilant state agencies

During their investigation, the FDA learned that in 1951 the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners had acted on a complaint and found that the Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth was “conducting a school and college within the state of New Jersey for the purpose of training and qualifying its students to practice medicine, without first obtaining… a license authorizing such school.”

Before a trial started, however, the state agreed to drop the matter because the defendants agreed to remove themselves from New Jersey and never try to engage in that activity there again — which was about the time the first foundations were going broke anyway.

“If you have any evidence that Hubbard has re-engaged in these practices here in the State of New Jersey, you are instructed to immediately contact the State Board of Medical Examiners and present your evidence to them so that they may proceed against Hubbard or his representatives,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Remo M. Croce to the FDA in 1962.

The state had no idea that Scientology was back, and growing.

3. LAPD not curious about a Scientology death? Shocking.

In 1970, a Kansas City bank executive called the FDA to see if anything could be done about his brother’s suicide.

Wayne Prewitt was 35 when he killed himself, and his brother Gary told FDA inspector Frank A. Mosebar that he believed the suicide was “directly related” to Wayne’s involvement in Scientology.

“[Wayne] has been deeply involved with the Church of Scientology for some time. He had, in fact, recently been traveling to St. Louis and Minneapolis working to set up satellite churches in those areas. In addition, he had been deeply involved in trying to set up a church in Kansas City,” Mosebar wrote in his report of his conversation with Gary.

In October 1970, Wayne went to Los Angeles for “treatment.” While there, he committed suicide in MacArthur Park.


Gary told the FDA that Wayne had been using the E-meter (which was the subject of the FDA’s investigation), and that Wayne’s wife had a machine that had been in Wayne’s possession. Although Wayne’s wife was also a Scientologist, “she may break and disclose important information about the church if questioned.”

Gary himself offered to help with the FDA investigation in any way he could.

“He was considerably discouraged that the Los Angeles Police Department did not conduct any real investigation. He feels strongly that the Church of Scientology is responsible for his brother’s death. He further feels that the church should be stopped from capturing other innocent people. He said that the church drains a person emotionally, physically, and financially with resulting emotional breakdown.”

4. The upstate New York woman floating on the ceiling of Grand Central

In 1963, the FDA was contacted by Dorothy Waller of Elmira, New York, who wanted the agency to know about her husband’s problems and how Scientology was exacerbating them.

First, she told about her own involvement in the organization. She had read Dianetics when it was new, in 1950, and by 1954 she was taking courses in Yonkers, where she lived then.

Mrs. Waller indicated that she had received some benefits from the practices as for example, when on a co-auditing tour of Grand Central Station in New York she exteriorized and her thetan found itself near the ceiling of the Grand Concourse from which vantage point she could look down and see the entire activities of Grand Central Station and hear the sounds, smell the smells, etc. Another such experience involved bringing a flowering tree into bloom when it apparently had no intention of doing so otherwise. In this first among other discussions she later described how she learned why “she always had to have dirty clothes.” It developed that she never finished with all of the laundrying tasks of the household, but that she had through Scientology procedures, discovered that in one of her past lives, she had been a professional laundress and found it necessary to always have dirty clothes ahead of her to be washed… Touching more intimately on the trouble between herself and her husband, she explained that in another past life she had been engaged in the sale of sexual favors as a means of support and livelihood for her family for an entire lifetime, with resulted effects on the interpersonal relationships between herself and her husband which apparently involved some rejections of his advances.

She met her husband Robert while auditing at the Washington DC org, and they got married in an Episcopal church in Yonkers, where Dorothy was a member and where she had practiced some Scientology techniques on the young people there.

Robert said he had first encountered Dianetics in Peoria in 1950 before coming to the DC org and meeting Dorothy. His reason for going there was to rid himself of “a disabling set of pains in his back, shoulder, and neck and severe headache attacks.” But the Scientology courses he took didn’t help, and “Mr. Waller characterized the whole matter on which he had expended several thousand dollars as being nothing more than a good parlor game.”

The couple had then moved to Elmira, but Robert had been unable to work because of his debilitating pain and his consumption of alcohol to deal with it. Robert had spent some time in a state mental hospital for treatment, and the couple’s two young children were taken from them and put in foster care.

“Mr. Waller inquired if there was any possibility of the government ordering restitution of the money expended with the Scientology outfit for no good purpose.”

The FDA let him know it wasn’t in a position to do that.

The conversation then began to deteriorate. “Mrs. Waller seemed to get more vehement and somewhat incoherent as the conference wore on…”

After talking to this unfortunate couple, the FDA concluded that it might make sense to use them in trial as examples of the sort of people drawn to Scientology.

With some background investigation the presentation of these two individuals as witnesses in the eventual trial of the action would be very interesting as examples of the sort of personality that is produced by the Personal Efficiency Course and other courses of the Scientology organization. Mrs. Waller is a compulsive talker and impresses one as being on the verge of living in a sort of fantasy while Mr. Waller seems like a more stable and restrained sort of person who apparently has had considerable difficulties by reason of his involvement in the organization. On the other hand, it does not seem likely that the government would want to be bound by statements made by Mrs. Waller.


5. Mildred and Elmo

From at least 1962 through 1964, Mildred Troup of Miami was trying to get the government to do something about her husband Elmo and his involvement in Scientology.

“Mr. Troup to date has spent $70,000 on Scientology. In addition, he is lending money to students and auditors. To date he has lent $34,000 in quantities ranging from $3,000 to $8,000. He still has not received his auditor’s license but plans to go to St. Hill, England, to become a qualified auditor,” states a report written in 1964.

Mildred told the FDA that she believed that individuals at the Founding Church in DC were pressuring her husband to divorce her.

She was taping her phone calls with her husband and offered to turn them over to the FDA, and in a 1962 handwritten note she gave the government permission to use her apartment to record him. There’s no indication in the file if the government took her up on those offers.

In 1966, an FDA inspector visited Mildred again, and at first she refused to let him in. Eventually, she spoke to the inspector, saying that her husband had been at Saint Hill for the last year.

“Mr. Troup had visited her in Florida last year and a young man was with him and kept an eagle eye on him at all times; therefore, she did not have an opportunity to talk with Mr. Troup concerning any necessary matters.”

Over the past year, Elmo Troup had given Scientology $100,000 — worth about $775,000 today — but his problems with Parkinson’s disease were no better after his time at Saint Hill.

“She felt that Mr. Troup would return to their home when he realized that the Scientology was for the birds. Mrs. Troup said that she would greet Mr. Troup as if nothing had ever happened and try to make a home that she would be proud of.”

Damn. That’s some statement. We needed a moment after that one.

The FDA was also impressed with Mrs. Mildred Troup.

“It is the opinion of this Inspector that Mrs. Troup would make the Government a rather good witness. She appears to be familiar with the whole operation of the Church of Scientology.”

It’s a shame the FDA never got the chance to put her on the stand.


1. Robert and Evelyn Wingate
2. New Jersey state board
3. The Prewitt suicide
4. The Wallers
5. Mildred and Elmo


Bonus items from our tipsters

Remember the kid who started the petition to have Leah’s show cancelled? You’ll be happy to hear that he’s found his purpose in life.



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,163 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,766 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 309 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 197 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,372 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,146 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,920 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,266 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,832 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,500 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,760 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,800 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,512 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,038 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,127 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,267 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,587 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,562 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 918 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,220 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,326 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,729 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,601 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,183 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,688 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,932 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,041 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 2, 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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