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He was Scientology ‘I/C’ — ‘in charge’ — of Paulette Cooper’s harassment. And now he’s dead.

[Paul Pflueger and his target, Paulette Cooper]

When we were doing the reporting for our 2015 book The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, we did our best to find Scientologists who might finally come forward and talk about what they put Paulette through from 1969 to 1985 during one of the most frightening campaigns of “Fair Game” harassment of a journalist the church ever unleashed.

Thanks to help from various sources, we did manage to find some people who took part in Paulette’s surveillance back in the day. In particular, we had the great experience of getting to know the lovely and gracious Len Zinberg, who did some volunteering for Scientology’s Guardian’s Office in the early 1970s in New York. He told us about being assigned to watch Paulette’s comings and goings at her apartment, and as we were researching our book he reached out to Paulette to apologize for what he had done.

We also managed to track down the man who went by the name “Don Alverzo” in the Guardian’s Office, and who portrayed another character, “Jerry Levin,” when he managed to convince Paulette to let him share her apartment for a while so the church could keep tabs on her. That man is now living in Long Island, and we got him on the telephone. He pretended that he didn’t know what we were talking about.

There was also another tantalizing lead, and it’s the reason we’re writing this follow up story today. While we were researching Scientology’s numerous operations against Paulette, we learned that back at headquarters in Los Angeles they literally had a unit dedicated to keeping track of all the dirty tricks schemes and lawsuits being thrown at her. Yes, there was a “Paulette Cooper Unit” at Scientology, and we learned the name of the man whose title was, believe it or not, “Cooper I/C.”

“I/C” is one of those cute Scientology acronyms that you get used to pretty quickly researching this stuff. It simply means the person “in charge.”

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We learned the name of the man who had at one time been Cooper I/C, and we called him up. That resulted in the following passage in our book…

…talking with about a dozen former GO agents, it became obvious to me that even after 40 years, some of them had changed little in their attitudes about Paulette Cooper. Although some of them were entirely out of Scientology and had gained some perspective on their previous activities, repeatedly they said that Cooper was still someone they reviled.

“She didn’t deserve to be treated the way she was, but she’s a bad person,” one former GO operative said.

Another person, who had been the “Cooper I/C” – the person “in charge” of Scientology’s litigation with Paulette – said he couldn’t understand why a book would be written about her. “She’s not important,” he said, before asking never to be called again and hanging up the telephone.

It was especially disappointing to receive that reaction from former GO operatives who were no longer involved in the Church of Scientology. Why were they still holding on to their secrets?

We honored Mr. Cooper I/C’s request and never did call him back.

But now we’ve learned for the first time that this person died at the end of 2018, and so we can now reveal his identity. His name was Paul Pflueger.

Unfortunately, we never got to hear from Pflueger himself what his journey in Scientology was like, particularly when he was overseeing the operation against Paulette in the early 1980s. But we’re very fortunate that we received this report from someone who knew Pflueger very well in that period.

Paul was born in 1946 and was raised in Washington state and got into Scientology around the early 1970s. He later joined the Guardian’s Office (GO), where he was trained to be the equivalent of a litigation paralegal. At some point during this time period, L. Ron Hubbard personally awarded Paul auditing on certain processes called “Power” and “Power Plus.”

This was considered to be a big honor, because it was rare to be awarded auditing – the usual thing was to give someone training awards, but the old man considered that Paul had made some great contribution to the group and deserved auditing.

The GO, like its successor the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), was a network – it had international headquarters (WW or “worldwide” which was in the UK; each “continent” also had its headquarters, and each local org had a staff of GO people). The USGO was the “headquarters” for the US.

Paul had been posted for a couple of years in the USGO in Los Angeles; around 1979, he was sent out “on mission” to work with the GO staffers in the NY org. He headed up the Legal Bureau of the NY GO and had a couple of juniors who worked with him. He used to say that his job was to “run the attorneys.” That is the “wog” attorneys who were working for the Church, and he knew them all very well – Eric Lieberman and whoever else was working for the Church in NYC at the time.

In early 1981, Paul was called back to the USGO in LA for around a month to get “briefed” on what was to become the “Cooper Unit.” He returned to the USGO in July 1981 and became the I/C (“in-charge”) of that unit because of his extensive knowledge of all litigation and other matters related to Paulette Cooper. Scott Reily was also posted there as “Cooper 2nd” (i.e. Paul’s junior). They had at least one volunteer who used to come to their office regularly to do filing.

Paul remained on that post until the GO was busted and all GO staffers hit the decks; the GO was being overhauled at that point to re-emerge as OSA. Typically, the Church would apply “heavy ethics” to staff members in that situation, and Paul was Comm Ev’ed (put through a sort of Scientology court martial); there were recommendations to declare him a Suppressive Person (SP).

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The Comm Ev had found that Paul was guilty of “attorney overspends.” In other words, he authorized the “wog” law firms to do certain work for the church without putting in the standard “Purchase Orders” in advance that had to be approved by the finance committee of the church at their weekly meetings.

Paul justified this by saying that in litigation, you have to work fast and attack the opposition, and that it was impossible to achieve that kind of result with the whole Church purchase order system, so he bypassed it and simply ordered the attorneys to take specific actions in the various matters they were handling. (The “overspends” amounted to around $8,000 but they made a huge deal out of this in disciplining Paul.)

Later there was a Review Comm Ev that ditched the original recommendations, taking into account the fact that Hubbard had awarded him auditing. Ultimately Paul was given a couple of free intensives of the auditing processes du jour (every few years, these kept changing).

When his two free intensives were used up, the church tried to reg Paul for more auditing, but he refused.

That was the end of Paul’s involvement in Scientology.

The intense and varied harassment campaign against Paulette had started in 1969, and many, many Scientologists were involved in it over the years. Pflueger only came on to oversee it relatively late in the process. But as his friend points out, he was thoroughly versed in the history of the litigation against her, and could have been a goldmine about the strategies against her.

Like so many who do Scientology’s dirty work, however, it only resulted in Pflueger’s own scapegoating. Years later, we gave him the chance to speak with us for the book we were writing, but he turned us away.

“It’s a shame that he died with his secrets,” Paulette tells us. “But there’s still time for others to come forward and tell us what they know. I’ve waited almost 50 years to know the full truth.”

 
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Sign up for a daily email when we post a new story on Scientology.

Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.

 
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Source Code

“Anderson, Q.C., Melbourne inquiry. Complete gibbering psychotic idiot. Up to the gills with R-6. ‘Scientology must be wrong, because we cannot explain where all the new bodies come from. All the new spirits. Where would all the new spirits come from if everybody had a spirit, why, where would all the new spirits come from, huh?’ Actually, what he didn’t realize, this silly ass — he was disproving Catholicism. Catholicism claims there’s one spirit per body, so he was asking some silly little kid question that is asked of his own religion, Catholicism. And yet he was busy hanging Scientology because it couldn’t… You get the irrationality of it? The man occupies a perfectly valid position. He’s looked on. He’s a Queens’ consulate. Actually he’s just a gibbering idiot. You probably couldn’t even catch him to get a straight jacket on him.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 9, 1968

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“SECURE THE PORT: We are very popular in this port. Were publicized heavily before arrival. Snap up the PR. Get out your white uniforms for watches and good clothes for the beach. Make a splash here. We’ll be here 3-4 days and will push to make it heavy PR.” — The Commodore, October 9, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I live in Perth Australia which including myself has a grand total of 3 independents that are actually doing anything and no organisation to speak of. One day I’ll be the Captain of this city but not today.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1999: An affidavit by Scientology leader David Miscavige was posted to a.r.s this week. It was filed in the Wollersheim case, in which Lawrence Wollersheim is attempting to have Scientology pay a multi-million dollar judgment, even after bankrupting the Church of Scientology of California. “A great deal has been made of my role and authority in the Scientology religion because of my position as RTC’s Chairman of the Board. Let me emphasize that I am not ‘Chairman of Scientology.’ It is RTC, as a whole, that is responsible for the orthodoxy of the Scientology faith. It then follows that as Chairman of RTC, its most senior executive, I am entrusted with the ecclesiastical position that has the highest scriptural authority within the religion. My authority derives exclusively from that position and extends no further than RTC’s mission. In summary, my job is to ensure RTC carries out its function of assuring the orthodox and proper use of the Scientology religious ‘technology.’ My duties are completely unrelated to, and I do not participate in, the ecclesiastic governance of the many churches of Scientology around the world. That function is performed by Church of Scientology International. As Chairman of RTC, I am not the ‘successor’ to L. Ron Hubbard. Plaintiff attempts to mislead the Court regarding Mr. Hubbard’s and my role in the religion. Mr. Hubbard was the Founder of the religion and the sole Source of its Scripture. In that capacity, he will never have a ‘successor’…”

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Random Howdy

“This place is nuts, but not half as nuts as YouTube. It’s just a little bit more serious and astute and friendly.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference December 17 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
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: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

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.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

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.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

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

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS, Episode 10: Bryan Seymour wraps up his series axed by Seven News
[TWO years ago] CLEARWATER APOCALYPSE! No, not really. But let’s help Scientology run its new board
[THREE years ago] What it was like last night at Scientology’s Los Angeles TV ‘season’ premiere party
[FOUR years ago] BLOCKBUSTER EXCLUSIVE: It turns out the National Enquirer is blowing smoke again
[FIVE years ago] EXCLUSIVE: Recent deaths of Scientology rehab staffers points to ongoing problem
[SIX years ago] The Scientology-Ireland connection that propelled Cathriona White to Hollywood
[SEVEN years ago] Ryan Hamilton files two more federal lawsuits against Scientology’s drug rehab network
[EIGHT years ago] Anonymous and Craigslist: Proof that Scientology Knows It’s Under Attack

 
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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 2,448 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,953 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,473 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,493 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,384 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,691 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,559 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,333 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,663 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,137 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,453 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,019 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,938 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,106 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,687 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,948 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,985 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,699 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,224 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 579 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,754 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,305 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,454 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,774 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,629 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,748 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,104 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,407 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,513 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,911 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,787 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,370 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,865 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,119 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,228 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 9, 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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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

 

Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast

 

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