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Scientologist defendants plead not guilty as Medi-Cal fraud trial scheduled for Nov 21

[Hanan Islam at the Oct 7 preliminary hearing, sketch by Mona S. Edwards]

Yesterday at Los Angeles Superior Court, four defendants were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to charges that they ran a sophisticated scheme at a Scientology Narconon rehab clinic, defrauding the Medi-Cal insurance program of almost $4 million.

Trial has been set to begin on November 21 in the court of Judge Robert J. Perry, who handled yesterday’s arraignment.

Our man Jeffrey Augustine was in court to watch the proceedings. He says that Hanan Islam, 60, was once again brought into the courtroom in jail blues, as she’s still in custody since she was arrested during a court hearing on October 1. She’s now in jail on $250,000 bail until the trial begins.

Her son Ronnie “Rizza” Islam, 29, made bail earlier this month and came to court yesterday along with his sisters Nimat, 42, and Zakiyyah, 37, who are all, along with their mother, facing felony counts for insurance fraud. (A fifth defendant, Bayon Beverly Washington, 46, failed to appear initially at the preliminary hearing, and so her case is being handled separately for now. She will most likely be included in the November trial with the others after her own preliminary hearing is completed.)

 

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[Nimat, left, and Zakiyyah at the Oct 7 hearing]

 
Augustine tells us that one difference with yesterday’s hearing was that in the audience he saw two representatives from the Nation of Islam, and two women he believes were observing on behalf of the Church of Scientology. There were also some family members on hand for the defendants as well.

During the hearing, Hanan Islam’s attorney asked for a reduction in bail, but prosecutors pointed out that with a fraud of almost $4 million, it wasn’t warranted. Judge Perry said he would keep the amount the same for now, but also indicated that Hanan’s attorneys could file a motion later.

Augustine said the biggest question we got answered yesterday was that the trial, at this point, is still scheduled to happen, and rumors that Rizza or the other defendants had cut some kind of deal for reduced sentences turns out not to be true.

All four defendants (and likely the fifth) are headed into a very public trial, and all are facing felony charges for defrauding the state of California.

No wonder Church of Scientology and Nation of Islam representatives were on hand. It was alarming enough that the state presented evidence in open court during the preliminary hearing, but a methodical, detailed trial, with witnesses laying out in detail how the scam used unwitting high school students, corrupt educators, and Scientology’s quack drug rehab front to steal $3.8 million in fraudulent Medi-Cal charges should interest at least some media.

Hanan Islam helped to run a notorious Scientology front operation, the World Literacy Crusade in Compton, with her then partner who had founded the operation, Rev. Alfreddie Johnson. She and Johnson started up the Narconon clinic, which they called American Health and Education Clinics, in 2004. The state alleges that between 2010 and 2013, Hanan, three of her children, and other employees at the clinic coordinated with three corrupt high school officials to bring students into the clinic to watch films, and then billed Medi-Cal as if the students had gone through extensive drug counseling. (AHEC was shut down in a 2014 raid, and WLC also closed down, but its founder Alfreddie Johnson has not been accused of any wrongdoing.)

According to the state at the preliminary hearing, the trial will feature witnesses who say they were hired as “ghost writers” by the Islams to create fraudulent patient histories so Medi-Cal could be falsely billed. We are also interested to see if some of the former high school students used in the scheme will also testify. The trial promises to be rather eye-opening.

And all of this, right when Scientology leader David Miscavige is facing his own legal complications after being served in a couple of damning lawsuits that allege child trafficking, child abuse, kidnapping, and stalking…

Things are certainly heating up. Keep checking here for more updates.

 
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Kansas City and Columbus get their grand opening dates!

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Well, so much for doing everything “simultaneous.” Thanks to Rod Keller, we know that the Kansas City people have been told their new Ideal Org will have its grand opening on November 2, and the Columbus Ideal Org will have its ceremony a week later, on November 9. We have to assume that David Miscavige will be there to open his first Ideal Orgs in more than a year.

We had thought that he was avoiding these things to keep away from process servers. But now that he’s been served in two major lawsuits, maybe there’s no point in hiding further? Who knows. Anyway, let’s get ready for the ribbon cutting parties!

You’ll note in the flier for the event the emphasis on people coming in from out of town. We expect there will be 300 to 400 people at the ceremony, and almost all of them will have been flown in to pretend that there’s a large Scientology community that’s local to Columbus. (The same group of people will likely make up the Kansas City crowd the week before.)

 

 
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Source Code

“I heard about something the other day that made me feel rather bad. I dropped the I-76 or the Imperial Japanese Navy Trans-Pacific Submarine down into the mouth of the Columbia River, dead duck. And it went down with a resounding furor. And that was that. I never thought about it again particularly except to get mad at all the admirals I had to make reports to because of this thing, see? This was one out of 79 separate actions that I had to do with….My dad suddenly sprung on me the fact that my submarine had been causing a tremendous amount of difficulty in the mouth of the Columbia River….It’s got jagged steel sticking out at all ends and angles, and it’s a big submarine! …And the fishermen coming in there and fishing are dragging their nets around in that area, and it’s just tearing their nets to ribbons — they’ve even hired a civilian contractor to try to blow the thing up and get it the devil out of there — and has evidently been raising bob with postwar fishing here for more years than I’d care to count….I was asking my father for the address of the fishermen’s association up there to write them a letter of apology.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 23, 1956

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I am sure he hung with Allister Crowley in the late 40’s, I’m sure he was in financial stress in the 50’s. I’m sure he did all sorts of dark things in his personal life. But all that just endears him to me. I never judge a man for what he was. I judge him for what he has done for people. LRH has done MORE than his share of good things for people. It’s easy to dig into a guys past and find dirt on him, make the dirt seem uglier than it really is and then use the trumped up ‘dirt’ to do him in because of it. This is the way of man.”

 
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Random Howdy

“When they landed on the Moon, the adults in my neighborhood were crying. I couldn’t understand it at the time.”

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

[Elisabeth Moss, Michael Peña, and Laura Prepon]

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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] In 1949, psychiatrists wouldn’t touch Dianetics — so L. Ron Hubbard invented one who would
[TWO years ago] Despite Scientology’s best efforts, a Bunker reader attended Saturday’s grand opening
[THREE years ago] Vote for Xenu! Scientologists are looking to L. Ron Hubbard for advice on the coming election
[FOUR years ago] The technology of ‘ruining’ people: Jefferson Hawkins on Scientology’s opening pitch
[FIVE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard explains to a friend the real reason he wrote ‘Dianetics’
[SIX years ago] LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES: Summary Judgment Hearing in DeCrescenzo Forced-Abortion Lawsuit
[SEVEN years ago] British Newspaper The Sun Sneaks Reporter into Scientology Annual Gala!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Targeted South Park’s Parker and Stone in Investigation

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,606 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,735 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,239 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,759 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 779 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 670 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,977 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,845 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,619 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,393 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,739 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,305 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,224 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,392 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,973 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,234 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,273 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,985 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,511 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,037 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,600 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,740 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,060 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,916 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,035 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,390 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,693 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,799 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,201 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,073 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,656 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,151 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,405 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,514 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 23, 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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