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Naturally, shady Scientology operators are drawn to the gold rush of stem cell therapy

 
As Tony pointed out on Tuesday, the stem cell therapy business is having a Wild West moment, and so it’s attracting shady Scientologists who want to get in on the action.

In fact, the first Scientologist to enter the stem cell treatment business was Matt Feshbach, a familiar name here at the Bunker, and a notable figure because he was among the first to go through the “Super Power” processes as a reward for making a $1 million donation to the church.

In 2013 Feshbach opened the Okyanos Heart Institute in The Bahamas. A 2014 press release claimed that the clinic would “bring a new standard of care and a better quality of life to patients with coronary artery disease using adult stem cell therapy.”

(Some stem cell therapy involves fetal cells contained in umbilical cord blood. Adult stem cells are extracted from belly fat by the use of liposuction.)

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Feshbach’s partner in Okyanos was fellow Scientologist Manuel F. Vianna, formerly CFO at Condusiv Technologies (Diskeeper), a company founded and owned by major Scientologist donor Craig Jensen.

 

[2014: Matt Feshbach and Manuel Vianna]

As we reported on our blog, Feshbach’s Okyanos was funded by a $14.2 million dollar investment from Iraqi Scientologist Ali Shawkat’s Passion Trust. Ali Shawkat’s father is Mudhar Shawjat, a former Member of Parliament in Iraq. The Shawkat investment in Okyanos came from $140 million the Shawkats had taken out of Iraq. The money was problematic for Appleby’s in London; the law firm initially refused to take the money but eventually signed off on it.

Despite the Shawkat money, Feshbach did not have an easy time setting up Okyanos in 2013. For some reason, Feshbach apparently did not inform the Bahamian minister of state for investments that he and his wife were going through a contentious bankruptcy, which has been the subject of several stories here at the Bunker. This is called a “withhold” in Scientology. The Nassau Guardian reported that Feshbach’s IRS problems came “in light of revelations.” Even as Feshbach was collecting $14.2 million in first round funding, Feshbach and his wife told the IRS in 2011 that their net worth was only $138,000. As Grand Bahama was passing a special set of laws to permit Feshbach’s venture to operate, the authorities there naturally had reasons to be concerned once they learned of Feshbach’s bankruptcy and massive IRS debt. In 2017 Feshbach sold Okyanos to a biotech investment firm for an undisclosed sum.

Feshbach opened a second stem cell business in Texas in 2018. He did so based on a new state law. Indeed, there was a stampede to get into the stem cell therapy business in Texas following the 2017 passage of “Charlie’s Law” (HB 810) which allows chronically and terminally ill people the right to opt for non-FDA approved treatments with adult stem cells. In her article published at medium.com Dr. Kirsten Matthews, a Fellow in Science and Technology Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, reported on Charlie’s Law:

The new law, which takes effect September 2017, allows patients who are chronically ill access to experimental stem cell-based interventions (SCBI) and permits clinics to charge patients for their ‘costs.’ While the law seems like a huge win for patients, it might also hurt the same people it is trying to help by reducing their protections. In contrast, the new law does place the state of Texas in a position to more readily regulate clinics providing experimental SCBIs, closing down those which are fraudulent. In an article published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal, Dr. Iltis and I describe the risks associated with unregulated clinics offering unproven or experimental SCBI. The new Texas law would essentially circumvent the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their Expanded Access Program (EAP), which regulates clinical trials and access to experimental therapies. It also bypasses many of the required ethical and informed consent rules required by the FDA…

Given “right to try” laws and the recent FDA setback in US Federal Court, the gold rush is on in the stem cell business in the US. It is therefore not surprising to see Grant Cardone working to translate his automotive sales training techniques into the stem cell business. Imagine the sales close: “What will it take to get you into this knee replacement treatment today and drive it off the lot?” The mind boggles.

We are compelled to say something additional about Scientologist Manuel Vianna. Even while he was working at Okyanos in The Bahamas, he also took a position as Managing Director of Scientologist-owned GPB Capital Holdings in New York. The alleged $1.8 billion dollar Ponzi scheme has been racked by a barrage of lawsuits and was raided by the FBI in February 2019. Shortly after the FBI raid, Vianna departed the firm for parts unknown. More recently, a lawsuit has revealed ties between GPB Capital and the daughters of the reputed Russian-Israeli mobster Michael Cherney via RDRD Holdings II. Manuel Vianna was there when Iraqi money went into Okyanos and Russian money from Michael Cherney’s daughters went into GPB Capital Holdings via RDRD Holdings. We’re looking into this.

Although Scientologists claim that they are “the most ethical beings on the planet,” time and again we find them involved in questionable business practices or outright fraud. And the unregulated world of stem cell clinics is right in line with the goals of Scientology, which are…

1. Make large sums of money by selling Church of Scientology-licensed L. Ron Hubbard “business technology” courses to dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians, and other professionals. Long-time Scientologists and IAS Mega Patrons Luis Colon and Dr. Greg Winteregg of MGE Management Experts have the largest such sales training program at present. Grant Cardone looks to be positioning to enter MGE’s training market via the Wild West that is stem cell treatments in America.

2.Use Hubbard-based business technology as a way to recruit and convert dentists, chiropractors, veterinarian clients into Scientologists, and also to burnish Hubbard’s image for the world.

Until the government steps in to do something about it, we’ll keep calling out Scientologists for their sleazy moneymaking ways.

— Jeffrey Augustine

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Ask a Scientologist!

Here’s a question that came in to askascientologist@tonyortega.org, and we thought Dylan Gill would be the best person to answer it. If you have a question for one of our many experts, please send it in!

How does someone get assigned to work for CST in one of the vaults?

The process is really weird. I had worked on several missions to “man up” orgs, and to send people to Int Base, and so I knew what it was like. You didn’t tell people why you were looking at them, you just put them through tailored sec checks and made sure they were squeaky clean. Then, that happened to me: I was sent to Los Angeles and I went through six months of auditing actions, I did the Purif again, I got sec checks. And when you’re going through those quals you feel so guilty, you feel like a criminal — they go through everything you ever said that’s in your folders. But it’s also a complete mystery: You know you’re going to be promoted to Int or somewhere ( because of the people making sure your cycle is moving), but you don’t know where you’re going until they drive you there the first day. Why did I and my (then) wife get picked for CST? Well, I know they were looking for couples. Because CST is completely separated, and they wanted caretakers who were going to be on their own. A lot of the people sent up to CST were couples. And because it was CST, we had to sign a bunch more non-disclosure agreements and we had to understand that we were technically no longer in the Sea Org — I had been a Messenger and now my Messenger status no longer applied. And then, when I got sent to CST, I just disappeared in the middle of the night.

— Dylan Gill

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

What a Mickey Mouse operation…

 

 

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Need a job?

 

 
Things are humming in Scotland…

 

Need a job, part 2…

 

 
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Source Code

“There’s a population explosion going on and I wish to Christ somebody would inform me how men are far scarcer in l972 than I ever found them in 325 B.C. How could they expend them back then? I remember around the turn of the millennia and so on, there were just mobs unemployed. Well, right now they keep them all that way with relief and dough and this and that and the other thing, and they’ve got some workable scheme or another. One of the silly ones which you hear, we did a survey, we did a survey on people, what they liked and so on, just a general survey in the Scandinavian area, and we found what they liked best was welfare and what they hated most was taxes. Oh, brother. Outpoint to end all outpoints.” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 5, 1972

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Overheard in the FreeZone

“We are still in kindergarten. The US government doesn’t believe in theta traps and we have no OTs so far. It is a work in progress. The ‘Free Being’ OTs of the 50s all collapsed within months without any aid from the US government. LRH observed that instant OTs collapsed rapidly and thus the decision to educate. It is a far longer path than he envisioned and it was only near the end of his life that he realized that it was much longer and even then he underestimated the work involved.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Seeing as how Scientology is the only ‘religion’ that doesn’t have theologians, there’s no worry about theological inconsistency. As far as plot-holes in the story go, the one thing that keeps them in is this steadfast assertion that they have observed auditing and the rest of the tech to actually work. If they can’t get past this and realize they have been tricking themselves, then at best they’ll be indies/FZ for the rest of their lives.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Jay Spina: Sentencing set for April 3 in White Plains
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members: Trial set for April 14 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Waiting for an appellate decision from the Eleventh Circuit
— Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ (Valerie’s options.)
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology: March 11 (plaintiff attorneys pro hac vice, defense motions to quash), March 20 (demurrers by Masterson and Scientology), March 27 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe’s attorneys have asked for discovery, April 20 hearing set (motion to compel arbitration)
Matt and Kathy Feschbach bankruptcy appeal: Oral arguments on March 11 in Jacksonville
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Complaint filed.

 
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Start making your plans…

 
Head over to the convention website and meet us in St. Louis!

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

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

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’s creepier than a Scientology street fair? Apparently, not much.
[TWO years ago] Scientology turning to focus groups in anticipation of its TV ‘network’ premiering
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s Narconon rehabs haven’t changed in the least, even after dozens of lawsuits
[FOUR years ago] Outfront Media rescinds contract for Scientology ‘disconnection’ billboard in Hollywood
[FIVE years ago] ‘Will Smith is not a Scientologist’ — we elaborate on our quote the press went wild for yesterday
[SIX years ago] Larry Anderson: Scientology’s pitchman becomes a Bunker regular
[SEVEN years ago] Today, You Begin Your Training as a Scientologist
[EIGHT years ago] Paulette Cooper, With Help From the Voice, Discovers Her Heartrending Past
[NINE years ago] Daniel Montalvo Hits Scientology With Stunning Child Labor Lawsuits

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,868 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,372 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,892 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 912 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 803 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,110 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,978 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,752 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,526 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,872 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,438 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,357 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,525 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,106 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,367 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,405 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,118 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,643 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,170 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,733 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,873 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,193 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,048 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,168 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,523 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,826 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,932 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,334 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,206 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,789 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,284 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,538 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,647 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on March 5, 2020 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, 1995-2019 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2019), 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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