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Here’s proof that David Miscavige’s real estate approach to Scientology leadership pays

 
Back in 2014 we provided a jolt to Scientology watchers when we got a look at some actual figures representing the amount of money that Scientology is worth, and all tax-free.

What happened was, thanks to the probing of our friend Jeffrey Augustine, we had learned about a change in the law that was requiring organizations that normally paid no taxes on their revenue, such as churches, to file returns for something called “unrelated business income.” So a church that rented out its hall for a concert or something might have to report it on something called a “990-T” form.

Requiring Scientology’s various entities to follow these new rules, which came into effect around 2007, had a really interesting consequence. It’s not that the “unrelated business income” they were reporting amounted to much, but it was a small box on the first page of the report that stunned us. It was labeled “book value,” and it required these otherwise secretive organizations to provide an estimate of their entire worth, which was largely, of course, in the form of their real estate and buildings.

The amounts were shocking. Just two of the principle Scientology entities, the Church of Scientology International and the Church of Spiritual Technology, submitted book values in 2011 totaling $1.2 billion.

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It was the first look at hard figures involving Scientology’s finances since it gained tax exempt status in 1993, and it corroborated what former FSO Captain Debbie Cook had claimed when she defected in 2012: David Miscavige was sitting on a mountain of money. In 2015, Alex Gibney, using those documents and other sources, estimated in his film ‘Going Clear’ that Scientology had three or four billion in cash.

We were able to keep an eye on those 990-T forms for a few more years, but then they dried up. We figured that Scientology leader David Miscavige had figured out how to avoid taking in “unrelated business income” so they would stop having to admit how much money they had on the forms.

But Monday night, Jeffrey Augustine posted at his blog two new 990-T forms that were submitted by the Flag Service Organization, the Scientology entity that runs the Flag Land Base, Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida. While not on the level of the numbers we saw years ago with CSI and CST, they did contain a surprise: Between 2018 and 2019, Flag’s value skyrocketed.

In 2018, FSO’s secretary Glen Stilo estimated the organization’s “book value” at $191,474,208. A year later, for the 2019 form, he submitted a much higher number: $298,856,945.

For years, we’ve repeated what top former Scientology executives have told us, that “Flag” is the economic engine for the church, taking in more revenue than the rest of Scientology’s “orgs” around the world, combined. But going from $200 million to $300 million in value in a single year? Wow.

Our new Insider points out that 2018-2019 was right about at the height of the “Chase Wave,” when Scientology’s salespeople (known as “registrars”) were using a deceptive practice to burden Scientologists with huge debts. And also, he notes, Flag has been especially busy raising money for a new “LRH Hall.” Augustine wonders if the increase in value is related to the buying up of Clearwater properties reported on by Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus. But those properties were bought by individual Scientologists, not the Flag Land Base.

What could be going on? Mike Rinder suggests that the answer is really very simple: Florida real estate is going gangbusters.

“I suspect that in order to keep the ‘stats up’ — meaning the total Sea Org Reserves — Miscavige had new property valuations done,” says the former Scientology spokesman. “Part of Sea Org Reserves is the property holdings. In the past, it was a way to keep the SOR stat going up — get a new assessment of property value. Prices of property in Florida have been skyrocketing. They don’t pay for these property valuations every year, often properties sit with an assigned value from many years previously, and when needed to boost the stats, he’ll say ‘Get a new appraisal done’.”

A “Chase Wave” happening at the orgs around the country wouldn’t have meant a direct increase at Flag, he points out, but an increase in the value of the properties of the Flag campus would explain the huge increase.

And even with a pandemic, those values aren’t likely to go down. In fact, checking the latest figures, the housing price index in Florida has only sped up since the pandemic began. So even if, as our Insider has been saying, things are dire at the orgs because of the lockdowns, Flag’s value may still be going through the roof, and Miscavige has more money than ever to control.

“It may not be what everyone wants to hear, but I think it’s the most likely scenario,” Rinder says.

Hip, hip, hooray?

 
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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

“You can, by the way — it’s quite curious — if you were sailing down the street exteriorized and you take a look at somebody, you look over his anchor points, you’ll find those big wing anchor points. They’re way out there, great big gold balls way out in front. You can take one of these, one of this guy’s anchor points, you know, in front and pull it sideways and he’ll start to walk in a circle without knowing why he’s walking in a circle. And you push it out of position and he’ll start to lean. Oh, it’s a very obvious sort of structure.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 5, 1955

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“VISITORS: Only 250 Greek visitors came to the ship today. I am sure they were well handled. But it shows, (a) a lapse of advertising in Div VI and (b) insufficiently interesting ship tour. We should do better next time.” — The Commodore, January 5, 1969

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“There is really no more satanism in Scientology than there is actually in the Catholic church. Only the protestant Christians tried to get away from symbol and ritual and authoritarianism — all elements of satanism — but even they did not do nearly well enough….The slavemasters of the planet (Vatican & British nobility — ‘Priests & Kings shall rule’ — the double-headed eagle) have pushed only extremes in order to divide & conquer.”

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Past is Prologue

1997: A letter from Downbeat Magazine was posted this week, from Jim Beebe, a reader familiar with Scientology. “Chick Corea should be publicly caned for his shameful hustling of the Scientologist cult (‘On The Beat’ Oct. ’96). For years, every interview with Corea was a plug for Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. Many of Corea’s recordings had tributes to Hubbard and an address to write for more information. I, and who knows how many other musicians and fans took the bait. Thanks, Chick, for those wasted, brainwashed years and all of the money blown on quack courses and counseling. For some of us, too many years have gone by–but the public should be informed that those of us who have been lured into this destructive cult by Corea, can sue him and this cult and win legal redress.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Well, Hubbard did say that the thetans created the MEST universe so that they would have a place to play, but that eventually they forgot they had done so. The idea that Hubbard saw this whole thing as a game has always seemed pretty obvious to me.”

 
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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.
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.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.

 
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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] The wealthy people getting Scientology through the lockdown with their donations
[TWO years ago] Does Mexico really need a Scientology ‘Advanced Org’? We’ll soon find out.
[THREE years ago] A Scientologist murdered: Our experts try to make sense of Australia’s ‘Advanced Org’
[FOUR years ago] Court magician? Scientology attorney can now affect matter with thought, levitate, read minds
[FIVE years ago] Scientology cash-in! Top church attorney puts her beach bungalow on market for $2.4 million
[SIX years ago] Scientology posts the new ad that will likely be its Super Bowl entry this year
[SEVEN years ago] Former spokesman Mike Rinder describes Scientology’s dismal options in 2015
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology charges into the new year!
[NINE years ago] Scientology Drug Rehab Program’s Newest Victim: A New York 15-Year-Old
[TEN years ago] All Scientologists Look Alike, Right? — And More in our Weekly Stats Roundup!

 
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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 2,536 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,041 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,561 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,581 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,472 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,779 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,647 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,421 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,752 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,225 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,541 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,107 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,026 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,194 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,775 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,036 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,072 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,787 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,312 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 667 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,842 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,393 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,542 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,862 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,717 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,836 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,192 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,495 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,601 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,999 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,875 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,458 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,953 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,207 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,316 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on January 5, 2022 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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