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Rizza Islam’s sisters plead no contest, leaving him last facing trial in Medi-Cal fraud case

[Rizza got a boost from ABC last year]

Nearly seven years ago — seven years!we broke the news that several members of Scientologist Hanan Islam’s family had been charged with felonies. California state investigators alleged that the Islams had been ripping off the Medi-Cal program with the use of a jackleg Scientology Narconon drug rehab in Compton, California.

Years later, a detailed preliminary hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court featured the state laying out its case, that Hanan Islam was the ringleader and that her son Ronnie (known as “Rizza”) and daughters Zakiyah and Nimat had also taken part in the scheme, which made use of unwitting high school students and some helpful local high school educators, who lost their jobs over it.

According to the state, Hanan and her kids had found a way to use the Narconon rehab they had started at the notorious World Literacy Crusade in order to file false claims that, over several years, amounted to about $4 million stolen from the state. Adding to the court drama was that for a while Hanan and her son Rizza had tried out some bizarre and disruptive sovereign citizen stunts, claiming the court had no jurisdiction over them, which got them both stints in jail.

We couldn’t really understand why the case was put off year after year. The state, after all, said that it had piles of evidence that Hanan and her kids had run the scheme. But there was always some excuse — one of the defense attorneys died, for example, and Hanan claimed that she was dying of cancer.

Well, that did turn out to be true. In March, Hanan died of cancer at 62, and we wondered if it would take the wind out of the case. She had not only been the ringleader, according to prosecutors, but she had also been convicted of two previous felonies and so was probably looking at a major penalty if convicted.


Rizza, meanwhile, has become quite notorious on his own over these past seven years, an interesting figure who grew up in Scientology but also embraces the Nation of Islam and its leader Minister Louis Farrakhan.

And in 2021, Rizza really hit the big time, being named as one of the twelve biggest sources of online disinformation about vaccines, at a time when that kind of disinformation was literally killing some people during a worldwide pandemic.

What a mix this story was: Medical fraud charges, Scientology, the Nation of Islam, sovereign citizen craziness in court, and even the notoriety of a major anti-vaxx disinformation campaign.

And it has always mystified us why, over the last seven years, not a single word about any of this has showed up in the Los Angeles Times, even though it’s taking place in that city.

Well, whatever. We’ll keep it to our ourselves if we must. Anyway, we have now obtained some court documents showing that on July 14, Rizza’s two older sisters, Nimat (45) and Zakiyah (40), entered “no contest” pleas which, it was explained to them, the court would consider guilty pleas. Nimat was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor and will, in a year, have the case dropped against her entirely if she keeps out of trouble. Zakiyah pleaded no contest to a felony and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, but if she too steers clear of trouble, in a year she will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

So with Hanan deceased and the two sisters out of the case, that leaves only Rizza, 32.

According to the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, Rizza’s role was to organize writers who were hired to produce fake reports about drug counseling that never happened. Those reports were then submitted to Medi-Cal for reimbursement.

Previously scheduled for August 22, a “readiness hearing” for Rizza has been moved to August 25. According to one source we consulted, a readiness hearing is held only a week or two before an actual trial would start.

Will the flamboyant Nation of Islam huckster really be facing trial soon so many years after being accused of stealing medical insurance money from the state? We are very curious to find out.

In other legal news, the Australian plaintiffs suing Scientology in a new labor trafficking lawsuit in Tampa — Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter — were given additional time to try and serve the lawsuit to Scientology leader David Miscavige, but not as much time as they were asking for.

Neil Glazer, attorney for Valeska and the Baxters, had spelled out the efforts they have been making since the lawsuit was filed April 28 to try and find and serve Miscavige, and they asked to have until October 26 to get the job done.

Judge Thomas Barber has given them until September 12.

Anyone know where C.O.B. is hanging out?


Another legal item we thought you’d want to hear: When Middletown, New York chiropractor (and Scientology donor) Jay Spina began serving his 9-year prison sentence for ripping off Medicare, he had promised to pay restitution of about $9.7 million. Since he went away, however, Spina has only come up with $150 of it and hasn’t been making regular payments, as he agreed.

So, Judge Kenneth Karas has approved the garnishing of Spina’s retirement accounts. Well, that’s gotta hurt.

Still no word, however, on when Jay’s brother Jeff is going to face sentencing.

And last, sadly, is TMZ’s report yesterday that Eddie Deezen has been found incompetent to stand trial in Maryland. Three months ago, we were first with the news that the Grease actor and Scientology celebrity had been committed to the Maryland Department of Health after his most recent scrape with the law.

His behavior had become more erratic, and this time he was accused of breaking into a nursing home and acting delusional. Again, we hope Eddie can overcome his Scientology training and accept help from the mental health professionals where he’s being held.


Technology Cocktail

“NEVER tell a pc what is physically wrong with him. If you suspect something is physically wrong that some known physical treatment might cure send the pc for a physical check-up just to be safe. In the field of healing by mental or spiritual means, the pc is sick because he or she has had a series of considerations about being sick. Deformity or illness, according to the tenets of mental healing, traces back to mentally created or re-created masses, engrams or ideas which can be either de-stimulated or erased completely. Destimulation results in a temporary recovery for an indefinite period (which is nonetheless a recovery). Erasure results in permanent recovery.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1964


Now available: Bonus for our supporters


Episode 7 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and it’s a conversation with Geoff Levin about Scientology’s celebrities and which ones are most likely to defect. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 6 available to everyone, with Pete Griffiths on running a mission, Sunny Pereira dishing secrets of Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre, Bruce Hines on the crazy life in the Sea Org, Jeffrey Augustine on recent Scientology court cases, Claire Headley exposing Tom Cruise, and Marc Headley on what it must be like for David Miscavige living in Clearwater, Florida. Go here to get the episodes!


Source Code

“Ninth of August? What planet? Nine August, AD 12….You are Scientologists. You are scientists. You are people who can do things with the human mind. You practically — this small confine here — practically all the people on Earth who are experts on the subject are confined at this moment in this very small area. See? All right. The trick is from my viewpoint, to get somebody who can clear somebody else while being cleared, see, that’s the stunt. Otherwise nothing else works. Not on this planet, you see.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 9, 1962


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The UK ban is about to come off we hear by rumour. The Adelaide Aust ban bill is cancelled. The GPO lets us mail at bulk rates again in the US. I think we’ve even found the bug in the TR Course length! So here on Flag the few of us, on long, long lines, are working like mad, short-handed but rolling it out. We ARE very upstat. When you feel critical, just realize it’s a wish to do more better faster. For these 3 small orgs to handle what they’re handling is itself an epic. The thing legends are made of. The lowest downstat amongst us would be a king in any other culture than Flag.” — The Commodore, August 9, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Don’t think for a minute that the tech of Scientology and Dianetics doesn’t work. Too much energy was used by the US Government to stop it, so it must have worked its miracles as advertised. Imagine the meeting at the AMA. ‘So Doctor Scalpel, you read this book by Hubbard, do we have anything to worry about?’ The doctor replies, ‘I see a great danger with this book and we need to suppress it now, while we have a chance. I used some of its technology and it does rid people of illnesses with simple applications. This will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars.’ And so it went. Why else would the government spend so much energy on stopping us?”



Past is Prologue

1995: Grady Ward reported two violations of his privacy by Scientology investigators this week. “Mr. Waterman [with Pacific Bell] said that although the person did not have the code that I put on my phone bill (after warning from Jeff), he had other details of my life such as social security number, mother’s maiden name, previous phone bills, etc. etc. and said that he had recently suffered a stroke and couldn’t remember the code. After he started getting extremely abusive, Mr Waterman gave him the details of the bill. After hearing the news from Pacific Bell of a person lying to get access to my account information, I contacted my long distance carrier, AT&T and found, not to my surprise, that someone called ‘Grady Ward’ who had just undergone ‘eye surgery’ had required the operators to read off the last three months of my AT&T long distance bills for [two phone numbers]. According to Pat with Team 5 at the Mesa, AZ AT&T account services, the impersonator called earlier this PM. Pat said that I had no code on my accounts (I did and had earlier verified it as I did with Pacific Bell). AT&T suggested I put an ‘L’ code on my local carrier bill that supposedly would require *written* authorization before releasing my records.”


Random Howdy

“The ultimate goal of becoming an Operating Thetan is that you would no longer need a MEST body and you could return to being an all powerful, immortal non-corporeal being. OT 8 is actually the first ‘real’ Operating Thetan level. Hubbard croaked, so everybody’s screwed. Thetans are immortal. Mesty meat bodies, no.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11, pretrial conference August 17.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.

Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Readiness hearing scheduled for August 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filing amended complaint on August 2.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior 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.



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.


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 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?


[ONE year ago] Tom Cruise’s Scientology superpowers, No. 13: Communicating with anyone on any subject
[TWO years ago] Leaked Video: Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front talks strategy with psych professor
[THREE years ago] TOM CRUISE CAUGHT ON TAPE: Saving face after a Scientology disaster
[FOUR years ago] Why Scientology is a haven for sexual abusers — it’s the way L. Ron Hubbard designed it
[FIVE years ago] Hey, moneybags, Scientology has a bridge to sell you. Here’s the new price list!
[SIX years ago] The dapper CEO’s detailed response: Scientology wasn’t forced on disgruntled employee
[SEVEN years ago] Why no one should ever believe anything said by Scientology Sea Org or staff members
[EIGHT years ago] Jon Atack: Escaping the trap Scientology sets for the mind
[NINE years ago] PZ Myers Helps Us Plunder the Riches of L. Ron Hubbard’s Book of Scientology Evolution!
[ELEVEN years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 24: David Touretzky


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 2,751 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,256 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,806 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,796 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,687 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,992 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,862 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,636 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,967 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,440 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,756 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,322 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,241 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,409 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,989 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,251 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,287 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,002 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,527 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 882 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,057 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,608 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,757 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,077 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,932 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,051 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,407 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,710 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,816 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,214 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,090 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,673 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,168 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,422 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,531 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 9, 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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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