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Michigan Catholic couple appears to open a Scientology drug rehab without a permit

Rod Keller digs in to a small mystery happening in Michigan…

In early October this sign appeared on a property in Birch Run, Michigan. Residents noticed; some began to Google “Narconon” and found it to be associated with Scientology. Township officials became concerned. They had received an application for an alcohol and drug rehab facility in February 2018 and had responded in August with a letter noting some deficiencies in the application. They haven’t heard back since. The application hadn’t mentioned Narconon, now were they opening the rehab facility without getting the proper permits?



The property at 7273 Birch Run Road was purchased in 2015 by Gregory and Lori Hetzer. There are seven bedrooms in the main house and three more over the four-car garage. Sitting on 10 acres, the estate has two ponds, a beach area, a volleyball court, indoor pool, exercise room, home theater, and four fireplaces. It’s a massive home and “The Castle” seems an appropriate name. The application says they plan to have up to 24 patients at a time in drug or alcohol rehab.


The Narconon sign came down on October 6. The Hetzers told township officials that Narconon visitors were flying in from California and they only wanted to offer them a warm welcome. They assured the officials that they had not opened without proper permits. The township isn’t so sure. “They are way back in the woods and we have no way of knowing what’s going on there,” one official tells us. Neighbors report an unusual number of cars coming and going to the estate.


[Gregory Hetzer at The Castle]

Narconon is a subsidiary of Scientology. The Hetzers are Roman Catholics, and we can find no history of their membership in the church. They did not return requests for comment. Gregory is the author of The Battle, a book he describes as “about the rise of Donald Trump through though [sic] the Holy Spirit.” In it he describes spending his metal recycling fortune to buy seven ultrasound machines. Providing ultrasounds to pregnant women would encourage them to carry to term rather than seek an abortion. The plan for the Birch Run estate was to invite pregnant women to live there so they wouldn’t seek abortions.

That initiative is over; the Hetzers now say they can’t afford to keep the estate as a single family home and they plan to lease it to Narconon. At an October 9 zoning board meeting Lori Hetzer testified that she plans to live and work at the facility as a Registered Nurse. She denied that it was part of Scientology and they assured the board that there is no current activity, either as a drug rehab or a woman’s shelter.

If the couple refiles their application the zoning board would have to decide if a drug and alcohol rehab really fits the definition of the adult foster care facility permit they are seeking. So far it seems unlikely permission would be granted as a consultant concluded that the two are distinctly different uses. One official tells us they hope the application is never re-filed, and this situation goes away. That doesn’t seem likely.



Scientology has put out the word in to its members that they are hiring staff for Narconon Birch Run. The contact for this is Dennis Homant, who lists himself as Director of Narconon Freedom Center in Albion, MI. That Narconon closed in June according to the Michigan Bureau of Community and Health Systems, but it appears to be another case of Scientology figure Per Wickstrom closing a Narconon and reopening it under another name — in this case Awakenings Rehabilitation.


[Wickstrom and NFL legend Jim Brown in 2013]

For years Wickstrom has run rehabs and detox centers in Michigan and Indiana which either had some connection to Narconon, or used Narconon materials while not actually in the Narconon system, or as appears to be the case now, have all cut off ties with Narconon. It also appears that he has no tie to the Birch Run experiment.

Residents and officials of Birch Run are waiting for the next step. Dennis Homant is being trained as the new Executive Director at Narconon Suncoast in Clearwater, Florida, the spiritual headquarters of Scientology. It seems clear that Scientology intends to move forward now on this stalled application. If the neighbors hope it will all go away they will probably be disappointed.

[Application for use as a drug rehab/adult foster care facility]

[Letter of deficiency]


We previously reported that in the Netherlands Scientology intends to re-open Narconon Zutphen as an Ideal Narconon. Algemeen Dagblad reported this week that the existing building has been closed because the interior was completely worn out, and that Narconon is looking for a building elsewhere in The Netherlands.

— Rod Keller


Bonus items from our tipsters

Well, you knew this was coming…



Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, and Nancy Cartwright]

We’re building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs.’ We’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them, in order to build a record and maintain a watch as Scientology continues its inexorable decline — and yes, we finally have comments working on these new pages! Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Today’s Ideal Org: Detroit, Michigan!



Now on sale: Twice the Miss Lovely!

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. What a pleasure it is for us to work with her on this after we wrote about her ordeal as a victim of Scientology’s “Fair Game” campaigns in our 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, which is also on sale in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions.



[ONE year ago] ‘Scientology is dying’: John Brousseau on the decline of Int Base and fate of Shelly Miscavige
[TWO years ago] Leonard Cohen: This awful year strikes again with the loss of a transcendent genius
[THREE years ago] Under oath, Narconon official lets slip that drug rehab organized just like Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Kim Poff fired by Oklahoma agency after stories (including ours) described Scientology dispute
[SIX years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Tom Cruise’s Son Connor Fights the North Koreans!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,265 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,898 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,378 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 441 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 329 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,504 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,278 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,052 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,398 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,964 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,884 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,051 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,632 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,892 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,932 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,644 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,170 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,259 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,399 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,719 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,575 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,694 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,050 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,352 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,458 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,861 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,732 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,315 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,820 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,064 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,173 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 11, 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates

Join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

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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