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Full court press: Scientologists have been busy in the halls of justice lately

[Scientology’s finest: Hanan Islam, David Gentile, Jay and Jeffrey Spina]

What a few weeks it’s been here in the Bunker for coverage of Scientology legal matters. Jeffrey Augustine was in court for us again yesterday, and so we thought we’d catch up with him and all that he’s been doing for us lately.

The Bunker: So Jeffrey, we are grateful for the on-the-scene reporting you’ve been doing. Just great work. And yesterday, we were looking forward to another day in court. It was scheduled to be the first actual hearing of any kind in the Valerie Haney lawsuit — just a procedural hearing so Valerie’s out-of-state attorneys could be admitted in the local court. But that’s not what happened, is it?

Jeffrey: No. What happened is that the lawsuit was apparently filed in the wrong department. It was moved to another department and will be assigned to another courtroom. This was simply a procedural error.

The Bunker: A slight delay, so we don’t know yet if there’s going to be any issue about the non-California attorneys being admitted. We’re all so anxious for these lawsuits to get into court it is a disappointment that we have to wait.

Jeffrey: These requests to be admitted by out-of-state attorneys are almost always granted so I don’t see any problems.

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The Bunker: Meanwhile, this has been a huge couple of weeks in the Narconon Medi-Cal fraud case, and you’ve done yeoman’s work keeping us all informed about what is going on. This week, Hanan Islam and three of her children — Rizza, Nimat, and Zakiyyah — pleaded not guilty and were arraigned, with trial scheduled to begin on November 21. We were both surprised to see it turn out that way, weren’t we? Didn’t you think at least one or two of the Islams might have worked out some kind of plea deal by now?

Jeffrey: Hanan Islam is the main defendant, the kingpin. I figured she would go to trial. I thought Rizza, Zakiyyah, Nimat, and Beverly Washington would take plea deals. But I was wrong. There is a popular misconception that a plea deal allows a defendant to get off easy. This is not correct. In California, as in all other US states, taking a plea deal is a very serious matter. A plea deal could, for example, mean serving one year in County Jail and agreeing to pay restitution. But one intangible in this Narconon case, at least in my opinion, is that a plea deal means pleading guilty — and for all intents and purposes a plea of “no contest” is equivalent to a guilty plea for the purposes of sentencing and probation or parole. For the defendants to admit guilt, to say they scammed their own community, would be devastating because they don’t think they did anything wrong. There is the family’s reputation at stake. A guilty or no contest plea also puts the Church of Scientology and the Nation of Islam into association with the defendants.

The Bunker: We both noticed that after the arraignment, Rizza made a plea on social media for friendly witnesses to come forward who were involved in the World Literacy Crusade in those years. So it looks like he’s starting to take seriously the idea of putting on a defense at trial. You were there for the preliminary hearing and heard the evidence that the state says it can put on. Are you surprised to hear that Rizza is looking for witnesses at this point to try and win an acquittal?

Jeffrey: I’m not sure Rizza really understands what he’s up against. To put people on the stand to say they liked the WLC program is to confuse a criminal defense with a consumer satisfaction survey. The prosecution has to prove that the elements of the crime were committed. People who were happy with the WLC program don’t answer to the charges that the defendants submitted fraudulent insurance claims and engaged in the theft of $3.8 million from the people of California. What the defendants have to attack is the State’s massive weight of evidence. For example, how do the defendants disprove the evidence of ghost writers in Suite F? How can they possibly argue that the signatures on the Medi-Cal insurance claims were not their signatures?

 

[Have you seen this man in court lately?]

The Bunker: Yeah, this just seems to get worse and worse for them. You have to think that some media is going to start paying more attention when trial actually starts.

Jeffrey: You have to remember that there was a four-year delay between the charges being filed in 2015 and the defendants being bound over for criminal trial in 2019. The media lost interest. Those four years might as well have been light years given the speed of news these days. Now that there is a criminal trial with a definite date I think the media will pick the story up because it involves the Church of Scientology, the Nation of Islam, and alleged criminal activities by members of those two groups.

The Bunker: Lost interest? They were never on the story to begin with. Well, except for the Bunker. But don’t get us started. Anyway, yes, we are surprised that there isn’t more media interest with the combination of elements in this case. Scientology. Nation of Islam. Unwitting high school students. Corrupt educators. It’s got everything! Well, if the rest of the media wants to leave it to us, we’ll take it. So, switching gears, another criminal investigation we’re watching is this wild situation with GPB Capital Holdings, an investment company owned by a wealthy Scientologist, David Gentile, that is in a lot of hot water. What’s the latest?

Jeffrey: The latest is a bombshell. A former SEC official named Michael Cohn accessed computers when he was with the SEC to obtain information on the US Government’s investigation into GPB Capital. Cohn was not authorized to access these computers. Cohn then used his illegally-obtained information during his job interview for a $400,000 a year position with GPB. Cohn was arraigned one day after the Islams. He was arraigned for obstruction of justice, illegally accessing computers, and using this data to further his private financial interests. He was released on a $250,000 bond following his arraignment on these very serious felony charges.

The Bunker: But no connection to Scientology regarding Cohn, as far as you know?

Jeffrey: Not as far as I know.

The Bunker: As for Gentile, we found a reference in a Scientology magazine that he had become very active in the New York org starting around 2011. So not a long history, but apparently he’d become very involved very quickly.

Jeffrey: It seems that way. Some people take to Scientology immediately and go all in.

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The Bunker: And just to be clear, Gentile has not been accused of any wrongdoing at this point, but things are looking pretty dicey for his investment firm.

Jeffrey: When the US Attorney’s Office publicly confirms an ongoing investigation of your company, it’s extremely serious. Gentile is feeling the heat. In the grand jury’s indictment of Cohn, a conspiracy is clearly implied: “Count 1. Obstruction of Justice: In or about and between August 2018 and February 2019…defendant MICHAEL COHN, together with others, did knowingly, intentionally and corruptly obstruct and impede, and attempt to obstruct and impede, an official proceeding, to wit: an investigation conducted by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.” That emphasis is ours, and it shows that the walls are closing in at GPB Capital Holdings.

The Bunker: Meanwhile, as long as we’re talking about Scientologists misbehaving and facing the legal consequences, upstate New York chiropractor Jay Spina was originally scheduled to be sentenced this week after he pleaded guilty in an $80 million Medicare fraud scheme along with his brother, Jeff. Both are longtime and very involved Scientology members and helped with the Truth About Drugs front operation. Jay’s sentencing, however, was moved to December 3. And for that, we’re planning to be in the courthouse ourselves and for once won’t have to rely on Jeffrey to be our eyes and ears. But hey, thanks for all you’ve been doing lately. That’s going to be some trial starting November 21.

Jeffrey: It was all worth it when a defense attorney in the Islam case asked me if I was with the Underground Bunker. When criminal defense attorneys in Scientology-related cases read the Bunker to see what is being said here then you know the Bunker is making an impact!

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Meanwhile, in Canada…

 

 
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Source Code

“Now, you will find that a rape or sexual attack may result in glasses, because this is refusal to communicate. And after all, what is a dental operation but a sort of rape, if you really think about it that way? Somebody is trying to take something away from an only partially reasoning individual who is under drugs. And what does the patient want? He wants to get away — not communicate. Do you get the idea? ‘Don’t communicate with me, don’t touch me, don’t hurt me.’ So you start up and down the track and you will find incidents here and there, and particularly locks are what you want; you don’t want to process a thousand engrams just to get off a pair of glasses. You get the times when the individual didn’t want to touch, feel, see, hear, or any of the rest of the package of communication, because that is what you are looking for.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 26, 1951

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I don’t believe at our current rate of disenturbulation, we will be able to recover this empire. But the goal of auditing isn’t to preserve the American or European way of life. It is to ultimately create a ‘race’ of beings who are no longer subject to the insanities of the past, and can proceed to build a society without war, insanity and criminality. And as such beings would remain that way into the indefinite future, any efforts along this line would be worthwhile. As I see it, we’ve been on this downward spiralling track of repeating the same mistakes over and over for trillions of years. Our individual lives, each one of them, have been full of needless pain and dramatization because of this. Imagine lives without all this! That is the promise of the Bridge and the Tech.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Seeing as how the Church of Scientology has publicly stated that they are not a turn-the-other-cheek religion, how is any of this a shock to anyone?”

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

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

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] What the Australian press can’t say about James Packer and his Scientology adventure
[TWO years ago] Mirriam Francis: Picturing Scientology parents who abandon their children to abuse
[THREE years ago] Sister of L.A. Scientologist arrested for Muslim threats was Don Trump Jr’s executive assistant
[FOUR years ago] Scientology cries religious discrimination in appeal brief filed in Maryland zoning fight
[FIVE years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology needs your money more than ever!
[SIX years ago] Jon Atack Considers L. Ron Hubbard’s Tangled Relationship With Mind-Altering Substances
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology on the High Seas: Vixie, Vitamins, and Satan Worshippers
[EIGHT years ago] Lloyd Kaufman on Scientology and South Park: Eric Sherman Did Ask Me about Trey Parker and Matt Stone

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,609 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,738 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,242 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,762 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 782 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 673 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,980 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,848 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,622 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,396 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,742 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,308 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,227 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,395 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,976 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,237 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,276 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,988 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,514 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,040 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,603 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,743 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,063 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,919 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,038 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,393 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,696 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,802 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,204 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,076 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,659 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,154 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,408 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,517 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 26, 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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