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The rise and fall of a Scientology mogul just took another mysterious twist

[Richie Acunto and Tiziano Lugli, back in the day]

We are at a complete loss on this story. We really have no idea what to think. So we ask you, our brilliant commenting community: What the hell is going on here?

Let us go back for a moment. You might remember that back in 2014, we told the really strange, amusing, and ultimately sad tale of Richie Acunto, a Scientologist who had tried to fly too close to the Sun and then had crashed to Earth.

Acunto rose from humble beginnings by selling car insurance to other Scientologists with a company he’d named after a Scientology touchstone, “Survival Insurance.” In the 1990s, Survival had grown so large it was one of the biggest insurers of automobiles in California. Acunto’s success translated into huge donations to Scientology, which, some of his former business partners say, ultimately doomed Survival itself.

After his donations had totaled $10 million, Survival crashed, and Acunto went bankrupt. In the meantime, when you give donations that large, you get awarded with fancy “status” titles and big, gleaming trophies, and Acunto accumulated his share of them.

But he then was so broke, his Scientology trophies turned up in an auction of a storage unit, and the winner of that auction then put Acunto’s trophies up for sale at eBay. That’s when we noticed them and wrote our story about Acunto’s rise and fall.


Many of us were fascinated by that eBay auction, and we watched as Acunto’s various trophies went for sizable amounts:

“Silver Meritorious” (for cumulative donations of $750,000) — $1,025.00
“Platinum Meritorious” (for $2.5 million in donations) — $1,352.98
“Diamond Meritorious” (for $5 million in donations) — $3,550.00
“Patron Laureate” (for $10 million in donations) — $2,247.22

The same (unidentified) buyer snatched up Platinum, Diamond, and Patron trophies, and we noticed that they immediately put the Platinum Meritorious trophy back on auction with an asking price of $5,000.

That was the last we heard about Richie Acunto or his trophies.

Until this week.

Completely out of the blue, we received an email from a bewildered Protestant minister in Tampa, Florida. Overnight, someone had dropped off a large trophy on his church’s porch.

Looking up the name on it, Richie Acunto, the reverend had found our stories, and didn’t know what else to do but drop us a line.

We told him we were as flabbergasted as he was.



We agreed not to name the reverend or his church out of his concerns about Scientology’s reputation, but we can tell you that this pastor has not spoken out publicly about Scientology in the past, and there’s no obvious reason why the trophy would have been dropped off at his church.

We contacted tylerdurdan24, the eBay seller of the trophies in 2014 who had obtained them in a storage unit auction. He didn’t have any idea why the buyer of the trophy (or its subsequent owners) might have dumped the item, but he did point out that it appeared to be damaged, missing some of its plastic parts.

It was also without its carrying case.

Who spends thousands of dollars for an item like this in an auction in Los Angeles, and then dumps it on the porch of a church in Tampa?

We have no idea. But we asked a certain local in the area if he’d head over and pick it up for us. (We called dibs.)

We may not have any answers, but we sure like how this story ended up…



Bonus items from our tipsters

Ventura continues to ramp up…


Meanwhile, here’s what the place actually looks like now, as one of our readers reported: “The org is right by the freeway on a short nothing of a street. Next to it are these ugly tanks. It is a horrid location. Zero walk by traffic. No would know it was there.”



Source Code

“The zygote is very easily injured. Every abdominal pressure affects it. However, an auditor should run the ovum-sperm series three or four days before conception. Although this hasn’t been checked objectively, cases respond much better if you get that series. The time up to before the first missed menstrual period has been checked objectively, because somebody else has this material too, but it is not easy to check conception objectively. Conception is a specific moment and you are not quite sure when it arrives. However, until the time this data is checked objectively, the reality of it is strong.” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 27, 1950


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Another idea that I remember some people talked about was that a cleared planet would occur if there were enough Clears that the amount of their theta would, by the laws of theta, disenturbulate the entheta of the other (not Clear) thetans on the planet. This is supported by the first chapter in Science of Survival, with regard to theta in enough quantity causing disenturbulation of entheta.”


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Kelly Preston, Beck, and Anne Archer]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. 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!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] What a train wreck: The ignominious fate of Scientology’s original flagship, the ‘Apollo’
[TWO years ago] Bernie Feshbach, 1923-2017: A man who fought against Scientology in his own way
[THREE years ago] ‘Horrifying’ autism ‘cure’ exposed by BBC turns out to be Scientology: Now, the inventor speaks
[FOUR years ago] Our Pacific Northwest adventure begins this afternoon with a stop in Portland
[FIVE years ago] Ryan Hamilton files lawsuit number 21 against Scientology’s drug rehab network
[SIX years ago] Federal Judge Orders Evidence Preservation Based on Narconon Georgia’s “Misconduct”
[EIGHTEEN years ago] Sympathy for the Devil (The Tory Christman story)


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,580 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,709 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,213 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,733 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 753 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 644 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,951 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,819 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,593 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,367 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,713 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,279 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,198 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,366 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,947 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,208 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,247 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,959 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,485 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,011 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,574 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,714 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,034 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,890 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,009 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,364 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,667 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,773 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,175 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,047 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,630 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,125 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,379 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,488 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 27, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 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. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 14 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, or 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 | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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