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Hanan and Rizza Islam get trial date for $4 million Medi-Cal fraud at Scientology rehab

We have numerous legal updates for you today, starting with some news we’ve been waiting a long time to hear: Finally, there is a trial date set for Hanan and Rizza Islam.

At a pretrial conference on Tuesday trial was set for May 20 in the case, which seeks felony convictions against Hanan Islam, 61, and three of her children, including her son Ronnie “Rizza” Islam, 30.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than five years since we broke the news that felony charges had been filed against several Scientologists who had operated a sketchy Narconon rehab out of their “literacy center” in Compton, California. The Islams were charged with ripping off the Medi-Cal insurance program by submitting bogus charges in an elaborate scam that involved unsuspecting high school students who were used as clients in the scheme.

The case also ruined the careers of three prominent African-American high school educators, who faced lesser charges in the scam. They included two local high school principals and the coach of the legendary Dominguez High School football team, who were all fired as a result.


And yet, even though this case involves the use of unwitting high school kids, the ruined careers of three local educators, the hiring of “ghost writers” to produce bogus insurance claims, and that it brought together Scientology, the Nation of Islam, and quack drug treatments in a scam that ripped off the state’s health insurance fund of nearly $4 million, not a single word about this criminal prosecution has appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

We figure that’s a big reason why the case has moved at such a glacial pace, with trial now finally scheduled more than five years after these defendants were first charged, and more than a decade since the crime first began taking place, from 2010 to 2013.

What does it take to get the LA Times over its reluctance to cover Scientology stories in its own back yard?

We’ve done our best to keep an eye on it here, thanks to help from Jeffrey Augustine covering some wild days in court for us. After years of inactivity, the case picked up in October 2019 when the Islams faced a preliminary hearing and Hanan tried to pull some bizarre sovereign citizen nonsense on the court. It got her and Rizza arrested, but didn’t prevent the state from putting on devastating testimony about how they had worked the scam. But after the case was bound over for trial it went into another long wait.

With no pressure coming from the local paper of record, Rizza Islam has not shied away from continuing his antics as an anti-vaxx huckster thirsty for publicity. For example, we were stunned to see this photograph that he posted last week at his Instagram account, showing off a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition that he had received from L.A. Congresswoman Karen Bass.


We sent a detailed email to her communications director, asking why she gave Rizza Islam this certificate, and he sent us this statement:

An organization serving girls in the foster care system in South Los Angeles held its annual concert in 2019 and requested certificates for individuals that they were honoring. Rep. Karen Bass is a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and has fought to protect the vulnerable and abused throughout her career. Our office provided the certificates when they were requested, using standard language on pre-printed Congressional certificates. These certificates did not in any way constitute endorsement of individual honorees. The Office of Rep. Karen Bass was at no time aware of the felony charges against Ronnie Islam. Rep. Bass, who has seen The Aftermath series, in no way supports his poisonous anti-Semitic and pro-Scientology beliefs.

In other legal news, there’s a hearing today in Los Angeles Superior Court to determine whether Scientology can saddle Valerie Haney with $160,000 in sanctions. As we explained on Sunday, Valerie’s “crime” was that she asked Judge Richard Burdge Jr. to reconsider his January 2020 ruling denying her a right to trial and derailing her lawsuit by granting Scientology’s motion that she should have to submit her grievances to its internal “religious arbitration” instead. Valerie’s attorneys told Judge Burdge that they had found new evidence that put his ruling in doubt, but Burdge didn’t see it that way. Scientology complained that the new evidence wasn’t new at all, and asked Judge Burdge to sanction Valerie’s side for what it cost them to answer her motion for reconsideration.

Normally, we’d consider it a long shot for sanctions to be granted, but twice now Judge Burdge has seen things Scientology’s way in important rulings, so who knows. We’ll let you know what we hear from court as soon as we can.


Meanwhile, attorney Jeffrey Riffer filed another gem in the other lawsuit against Scientology at LA Superior Court that was derailed by religious arbitration, the one filed by Danny Masterson’s rape accusers. It’s not entirely clear to us what’s going to happen to that lawsuit now that four of the five plaintiffs (the four who were all former Scientologists) have been denied a right to trial. But one thing is clear: Scientology leader David Miscavige is still fighting tooth and nail against being served as a defendant in this case, whether it’s been crippled or not.

In a new filing from Miscavige’s attorney, the always colorful Jeffrey Riffer blasts away at attempts by the plaintiffs to serve Miscavige, including the new attempt we told you about last month.

Probably the most interesting thing in this typically bombastic document from Riffer’s pen is that he repeatedly ridicules the attempts to serve Miscavige at the Hollywood Guaranty Building when it’s plainly obvious, Riffer asserts, that Miscavige has been in Clearwater, Florida all this time.

We’ve been reporting that Miscavige has been attending “graduations” in Clearwater in recent weeks, but this is the first time that we’ve seen an official confirmation that Dave is now a Florida resident.

And more news, this time from federal court, where we’ve been anticipating a special evidentiary hearing in the case of Scientologist donor and Middletown, NY chiropractor Jay Spina which was scheduled for next week.

Spina was arrested along with his brother Jeffrey Spina, their sister, and another employee at their clinic and charged with Medicare fraud. A physician who worked out of their clinic was also charged with fraud.

The Spina brothers were both big-time Scientology donors and actively supported its front groups. They pleaded guilty to fraudulently billing Medicare and using a complex scheme to try and hide what they were up to. But there was a dispute over how much Jay was willing to agree to admit to as far as restitution and forfeiture, and both sides asked the court to hold a “Fatico hearing” to present testimony. It would be sort of a mini-trial, and we were looking forward to it.

But now a new filing in the case reports that the two sides have settled their differences about restitution, and a hearing is no longer required. And they’ve informed the court that Jay insists on being sentenced in person and not via videoconference. With Covid still raging, that will mean putting off the sentencing yet again. We’ll keep an eye on when the court decides to attempt another sentencing date.

UPDATE: Jay Spina’s sentencing has now been set for March 2.


Source Code

“Putting tickets on the windshield of a car is illegal, according to our own Consititution, which requires personal service. Police get away with it because people don’t want the bother of going down and getting a trial date set. So they send in the amount of an arbitrary fine. This is duress and extortion — so there’s no difference between a criminal and a cop.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 14, 1954



Avast, Ye Mateys

“Spectatorism is very great in our modern society. Because some people cannot conceive of causing anything they just watch it. They don’t do anything. They are not PARTICIPANTS. They are spectators. You see this in magazines. Hee hee hee articles about how odd this is or that is. No understanding of it. It’s just odd and one watches it in a detached sort of way. Below this is somebody who doesn’t even notice. Such a person has to come up scale just to be a spectator. An unfinished cycle of action comes about because (a) The importance of it is not grasped (b) The cycle itself is not fully understood. (c) Non compliance and false reports are given as a method of self-protection wherein are hopes it will not be noticed. What we need are more PARTICIPANTS, more team mates. You belong to the SO or you don’t. If you do you’re at cause over the various situations. So we define an SO Member the way you do an OT — At cause over Life, Thought, Matter, Energy, Space, Time and Form. The degree you can be cause in handling the targets and needs of a group determines right away how far you’ve come up the line. Blaming case is effect, isn’t it? Sex is effect, isn’t it? I don’t care what your grade is, you are alive. Your true ability depends on the degree you can exercise the definition of OT over your post in forwarding the purposes of the group. You are actually insulting yourself to insist that I personally make whatever advances are made on vital actions of the group. If what you are trying to do doesn’t happen its a poor comment on your OTism.” — The Commodore, January 14, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“We have been looking at things globally and realize that many people have lost jobs or had to take out loans etc to deal with economy fluctuations. We also realize that many of you may be experiencing tougher times given the situation and it is important now more than ever to get up the Bridge! So we have considered everyone and would like to offer everyone the opportunity to go up the Bridge, therefore we are running a MASSIVE sale on our auditing packages! Spots are limited as our organization can only take on so many people, so get in contact TODAY!”


Past is Prologue

1998: An unpublished letter to the St. Petersburg Times from Cynthia Kisser was posted this week. The letter was written in response to an article in the Times about the lawsuits from Scientology that destroyed CAN. Cynthia was the Executive Director of the old Cult Awareness Network. “The real Cult Awareness Network never agreed to allow Scientologists as members as a result of the litigation by Scientologists. CAN toughened its local membership requirements, rather than softening them, after Scientologists began suing the local chapters to force the chapters to let them become members. No Scientologist ever won a single lawsuit over membership in CAN at either the local or national level, and CAN never modified its policies after the litigation against it by Scientologists began, and never let any Scientologists join as members who had previously been denied membership. CAN won every one one of the membership lawsuits, or the Scientologists withdrew them themselves before trial. As a face-saving tactic Scientology has made such a claim that CAN did reform its membership policies as a result of all the litigation….I am very proud that CAN was able to make case law supporting the rights of private associations to control their own membership and admittance to attendance at their private meetings. The protection by CAN through case law in federal and California courts of the freedom of association rights of private organizations reflects the true spirit of the true CAN’s work, and is a legacy which Scientology cannot erase, only try to undercut by misrepresenting the truth and hoping that legitimate media repeat this misinformation.”



Random Howdy

“The tech is the meaningless musings of a drug- and alcohol-addled madman who was making it up as he went along. You might as well have been playing hide-and-go-seek for 17 years.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson’s demurrer denied Oct 19, arraignment delayed to Jan 20.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to March 2.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration; Jan 29, Masterson’s request to stay discovery pending the criminal case
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology ripped apart his family, but this former member explains why he doesn’t fight it
[TWO years ago] EXCLUSIVE: Scientology tells A&E it has ‘blood on its hands’ for murder in Australia
[THREE years ago] Scientology plans Narconon drug rehab for Ireland, but the locals are not having it
[FOUR years ago] The most incredible lie Scientology attorney Monique Yingling told ABC ’20/20′
[FIVE years ago] Oscar snubs Alex Gibney’s Scientology documentary ‘Going Clear’ despite buzz
[SIX years ago] Scientology reveals a lot more of its lofty plans for the former KCET studios
[SEVEN years ago] Being and nothingness: And now we move on to Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level Four!
[NINE years ago] Scientology Recon: Commenters of the Week!


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 2,181 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,685 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,205 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,225 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,116 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,423 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,291 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,065 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,869 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,185 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,751 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,670 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,838 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,419 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,680 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,718 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,431 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,956 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 311 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,486 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,037 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,186 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,506 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,361 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,480 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,836 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,139 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,245 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,647 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,519 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,102 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,597 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,851 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,960 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 14, 2021 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, 15 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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