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Scientology’s 2021 was a leaky one, including new data about its dirty tricks

 
This has been a year of startling reveals here at the Underground Bunker, and February certainly continued that momentum as we unmasked one of Scientology’s most notorious “bag men.”

If you’re new to Scientology watching, you may be under the impression that the organization’s days of dirty tricks by shadowy spies and private eyes is a thing of the past, and that its “Snow White” days are long gone.

But that’s simply not the case. As we’ve shown again and again, Scientology continues to follow L. Ron Hubbard’s edicts about how to treat enemies with the same kinds of black bag operations today as it ever did.

Over the years, we’ve exposed a number of these operations and their operators. And we were extremely proud this year to unmask Russ Andrews, a notorious operator that Mike Rinder had named and shamed at his blog. We found that Andrews had a social media feed that was a toxic, homophobic and anti-trans sewer, and which also contained some nice photos of him and his family.

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We were happy to associate his photo with his name, and we have a feeling we’re going to be hearing more about Russ and his exploits in 2022.

 
Continuing our year in review: The stories of February 2021

Early in February we learned about Ted the Tour Guide, who had decided to act on a suggestion from new city councilman Mark Bunker and treat Scientology like a tourist attraction in Clearwater, Florida.

The next day we posted one of our favorite investigative pieces of 2021 when we showed how intertwined the dietary supplement company (and aggressive marketer) ‘Balance of Nature’ is with Scientology.

Ted the Tour Guide then came under attack by Clearwater Downtown Development Board member (and Scientologist) Paris Morfopoulos, who called his tour idea a ‘bigoted hate group.’

We learned about yet another Scientologist in legal trouble as wealthy New York investor David Gentile was charged for running a $1.8 billion Ponzi-like fraud scheme.

Once again Scientology came out with a new Super Bowl ad, and we had to point out yet again to reporters that they don’t pay the $5.5 million for a national spot during the game, but instead buy less expensive local ad time in only some markets. But still, it’s always fun to see this year’s mystery sandwich.

We noted that Scientology’s Narconon network in the US is now down to only five locations, from a high of about 20 facilities in the early 2000s.

Gretchen Carlson slammed arbitration agreements that keep sexual assaults secret in a speech to Congress, and mentioned Scientology and Danny Masterson as an example.

On February 11, the world said goodbye to jazz icon Chick Corea, who was an amazing artist, as well as a loyal Scientology celebrity to the end.

Two days later, a big reveal: We exposed one of Scientology’s longest tenured dirty tricks operators, a private investigator and Scientologist named Russ Andrews.

And we followed that up with some actual documents from a spying operation done by Andrews on Scientology protesters. Creepy.

And then even better, we came up with video from the operation.

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On February 17, we learned that the FBI was interested in speaking with Scientologist firebrand Leigh Dundas about her January 6 activities at the Capitol. Since then Leigh has really upped her visibility as a barnstorming speaker on the QAnon circuit.

It was also in February that we began to point out that it had been nearly a year since Scientology’s private cruise ship the Freewinds had left dock in Aruba. After being stuck there early in the pandemic, we wondered if it would ever get going again.

Also in February, Danny Masterson’s accusers petitioned the state appeals courts, asking for the right to appeal Judge Kleifield’s ruling that was forcing them into Scientology’s ‘religious arbitration.’

Another thing we were keeping an eye on: Various members of the Masterson clan were putting their homes on the market as Danny faces serious criminal charges.

And near the end of the month, we related the sad news that another Scientology OT, Frank Suárez, had thrown himself off a tall building, this time in Puerto Rico.

 
A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2020: Forced to arbitration, Valerie Haney considered her options. An OT dentist in Maryland was unmasked as a sadistic medical disaster. Bobette Riales blamed Scientology for the near-fatal poisoning of her dog Jet. Scientology’s celebrity Narconon in Ojai got the drone treatment. An L. Ron Hubbard racist lecture in South Africa was unearthed. Last Ideal Org opened before the pandemic in Ventura, and we got the drone flyover.

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2019: NFL great Marshall Faulk used another Super Bowl to shill for Scientology’s anti-drug front group. Chief Slaughter denied that Clearwater PD genuflects to David Miscavige. USC revealed that a letter from a prominent faculty member endorsing Scientology was a fake. The National Enquirer falsely claimed that Shelly Miscavige had been spotted on a cruise ship.

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2018: David Mayo died, and we revealed that we’d been talking to him over the years. Scientology’s new Super Bowl ad, ‘Curious?’ was a hoot. Chris Owen dived into the notorious ‘brainwashing’ manual. And Sands Hall published her delightful memoir, ‘Flunk. Start.’

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2017: The new Super Bowl ad was another mystery sandwich. Phil and Willie Jones put up another ‘Call Me’ billboard, this time right on Sunset Boulevard. Clay Irwin toured Tom Cruise’s penthouse. We profiled the ‘celebrity whisperer,’ Quailynn McDaniel.

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2016: News broke that Monique Rathbun had fired her entire legal team. Ross and Carrie began their trip inside the church. Defector Paul Burkhart estimated fewer than 20,000 active members left in the church worldwide. And a 1940 L. Ron Hubbard short story turned out to have a lot of precursor ideas for Scientology.

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2015: The horrifying story of a mentally ill woman held in an Arkansas basement by a Scientologist, Mark Ebner found that Narconon International ditched its offices, we fact-checked Danny Masterson, and R.M. Seibert dug up L. Ron Hubbard’s high school record.

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2014: The Master actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died in New York, we wrote an essay complaining about the way the media talks about Scientology and celebrities, and we provided some context to the first official Scientology wedding in England.

A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY 2013: Jenna Miscavige Hill’s memoir, Beyond Belief, was published. Harlan Ellison helped us document a Hubbard legend. And former Narconon executive Eric Tenorio cam forward.

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Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of February 2021

February 4: Phil Jones

There seems to be an amazing string of Scientologists who run cons out there. I guess that since Scientology itself is a con they don’t have the ethical standing or desire to keep their parishioners/marks in line. I was just telling Jeb about when I first arrived in Clearwater back in 1989 I was hired by a Scientologist who dealt in buying and selling coins. After I’d been there a few weeks the place was raided by the IRS. Apparently the owner and two of his cronies were doing some illegal cash deal under the table to avoid taxes. The 3 of them went to jail for about 3 years each. (all three were Scientologists). I’ve worked for a number of other Scientologists who have either been charged with fraud, sued, or some who just ran cons and never got caught. They just don’t learn.

February 7: Jefferson Hawkins

They’ve been making these “feel-good” “mystery sandwich” type ads for 20 years. They don’t work. They have never worked. People tune the ad out the minute they know it’s Scientology. I know, because I’m the only person to ever focus-group test Scientology’s ads. Scientology is hated and mistrusted, and these ads tank the moment Scientology is mentioned. And no, no one is “curious” about Scientology. And if they were, they’d watch Leah’s show. Interestingly, Hubbard himself specifically forbade this type of ad in policy. He said if you place ads, any ad, use it only to sell a book. He considered “image” ads or “feel good” PR ads to be a waste of time. And they are for Scientology. Even after I showed them how to do it in the 1980s (sell books), they still refuse to do it. They listen to Miscavige, and he loves these useless PR fluff ads. Miscavige loves them because he uses them to raise donations from Scientology’s gullible whales. They in fact raise far more money than they ever spend on ads. But as Napoleon said, never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake!

February 15: UTR

Scientology is just one big private investigating firm. Privacy is invaded the moment you make contact with Scientology through that lengthy OCA test. Then the auditing begins, which is an absolute violation of privacy under the veil of “helping ” you. You are so used to telling “ALL” your boundaries all but disappear. Still, I had no idea Scientology even used PIs when I believed in Hubbardism and it was a shock. Scientology never needs to hire an outside firm for its own members as they are used to not having privacy, and don’t even give it a second thought. Then you throw in crazy paranoia and the ends justifying the means…

February 20: Mat Pesch

Yah, I want to be confined on some old ship with 150 Sea Org members staring at me knowing that my money is all that stands between them and their next meal. Maybe I accidentally wonder too far below deck and run into some Sea Org prisoners who have been held against their will for years. Now I know too much and have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the “Truth Rundown” in an effort to convince me that what I experienced never happened. Then I can pay for interrogations to convince me that I was the one that imprisoned people over the last billion years and that I am only accusing others of what I have done. Now I can hand over any credit cards I have to my favorite Miscavige Slush Fund as amends for being such a evil, degraded dumb ass. Yah, I want to leave the comfort and safety of my own home to work on that floating insane asylum.

February 27: Phil Jones

In the second photo Frank [Suárez] is holding up a Spanish version of The Way to Happiness booklet. Sadly, there is no happiness to be had in Scientology. If Frank did the entire Scientology Bridge it obviously didn’t give him the ‘happiness’ as Hubbard promised. On the day you realize that you’ve spent your whole life in a cult (yes, I said cult) and that it essentially gave you nothing, but took everything, one could conceive of the way Frank went. I hope those who escape Scientology in the future will fight for others still in, or at least go and live what life they have left. Scientology creates no Clears, no OTs, and it is very evident that it creates no happiness for its adherents.

 
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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

“Why do you think it is that simply looking at something will make it vanish as far as a thetan is concerned? We know that this will take place. All right, that’s because he goes into communication with it and it is a mismanaged communication. To be an it, to be a something, we must have had a mismanaged communication of one kind or another. That’s why we say ‘God built this universe.’ Now that is a mismanaged communication, per se, it is right there. God did not build this universe. And so that is mismanaged so there is the wrong point of origin, see, some point of origin is mocked-up, and so on.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 22, 1954

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“Peter Church, FEBC student and Sharon West were married at sea by Captain W.B. Robertson at 2151 hours 21 Dec 1970. The marriage will be recorded at the nearest consul under Maritime Law and the Laws of Panama. The entry has been duly recorded in the ship’s log. Peter Church is from Delta Meters, Los Angeles. They will have a brief honeymoon in the nextport. They have the good wishes of the officers and crew of the Apollo and my own.” — The Commodore, December 22, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I think there is different levels of beingness and as you advance up you always look at the people below you and think that they are insane, but you think you’re sane, then you progress and then you think about how you used to be and you think you were insane, so it’s all a gradient scale, and earthlings on average are not advanced so therefore we are all insane.”

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Past is Prologue

1996: Per Lundquist described Scientology’s efforts to take down his NOTS email service. “Another busy week at the University of Linkoping, Sweden. The president’s house is receiving a lot of faxes from CoS lawyers in U.S. demanding the University to take action against my mail service. Right now they don’t know what to do, there is no copyrighted material on my homepage but I’m still using a University server to post my mails containing NOT’s. I’ve been interviewed by the biggest student magazine at campus this week, hope can put some pressure on the University. My mail service has delivered NOT’s to 111 lucky people.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Dude, we don’t get ‘in comm’ with people around here, we talk to them.”

 
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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 February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29, 2022.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), false imprisonment, aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Next hearing scheduled for January 18.

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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 January 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
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 held November 2, awaiting a ruling.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9, 2020 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] ‘Tears of joy’: Scientology boasts that leader David Miscavige attended Clearwater event
[TWO years ago] Scientology Santa: The church built on Jesus as a hoax once again co-opts Christmas
[THREE years ago] Checking in on a Scientology ‘ideal’ Christmas as we continue our year in review
[FOUR years ago] Scientology donor Joy Villa aiming for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Miami congressional district
[FIVE years ago] February made us shiver, but it was another Astounding month here in the Bunker
[SIX years ago] The Scientologist who sold a hot dinosaur skull to Nicolas Cage
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s 2014 in review: In chilly February, Hambo began his onslaught
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology sends us a letter!
[NINE years ago] Scientology’s 2012 In Review: Debbie Cook Starts January Off With a BANG!

 
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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 2,522 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,027 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,547 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,567 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,458 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,765 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,633 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,407 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,738 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,211 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,527 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,093 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,012 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,180 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,761 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,022 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,058 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,773 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,298 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 653 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,828 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,379 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,528 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,848 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,703 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,822 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,178 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,481 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,587 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,985 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,861 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,444 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,939 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,193 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,302 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on December 22, 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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