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October showdowns: After years of delays, Scientology-related trials are looming

[Rizza Islam and Danny Masterson: Trials and tribulations]

Way back in 2015, we told you that a Compton, California family had been charged with Medi-Cal fraud for sending the state insurance program fake reports of treatment from a jackleg Scientology “Narconon” rehab working out of the notorious World Literacy Crusade.

Two years later, we broke the news that Danny Masterson, Scientology celebrity, was being investigated by the LAPD in connection with allegations from three women (which later grew to several more) that they had been raped by the That ’70’s Show actor while they too were in the church.

In the years since then, Underground Bunker readers know that we’ve been following every development in those cases as the Islam family’s trial for ripping off Medi-Cal was put off time and time again for no discernible reason, and while Danny Masterson was charged formally in June 2020 and then had his legal team throw up one delaying tactic after another to slow the case down.

Now, finally, both cases may be coming to a conclusion, and remarkably, at precisely the same time.

We learned this week that Rizza Islam, 32, the last Islam family member still facing charges in the Medi-Cal fraud scheme, is now scheduled for trial on October 24 in Los Angeles.


Yes, at the same time that Danny Masterson’s rape trial is scheduled, beginning October 11, to be going on in the very next courtroom on the ninth floor of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Rizza’s own trial will be starting up.

Danny Masterson and Rizza Islam, both on trial for felonies, and right next door to each other.

We’re going to have to clone ourselves or something if we’re going to keep an eye on both of them at the same time.

Just before last week’s “readiness hearing” was held in Rizza’s case, he went on a local radio program and dismissed the idea that he was facing a serious trial for defrauding the state of California. “They are charges that don’t apply to me,” he told KBLA’s Dominique DiPrima.

He said the case was “just a smear campaign,” and expressed the hope that the state would simply drop the matter at last week’s hearing. (It obviously didn’t.)

In case the state decided to pursue the matter, Rizza announced that he was ready. “I am choosing to go to trial to prove my innocence,” he said.

Rizza might want to make it sound like a minor occurrence and simply a smear campaign, but it’s no joke to face a felony trial on the ninth floor at the Clara Shortridge Foltz courthouse.

And we also find it interesting that he’s decided to roll the dice with a trial when his sisters got off so lightly after they decided to plead out from the case.

According to the state’s investigation that was presented in a preliminary hearing in 2019, the scheme’s mastermind was Rizza’s mother, Hanan Islam, a two-time felon who had founded the Narconon clinic at her partner Alfreddie Johnson’s infamous World Literacy Crusade, a Scientology front that was mired in controversy.

There’s no question that the clinic was offering Scientology’s style of rehab services, which it brands as Narconon. And also that Hanan Islam and her children were also involved in the church.

The clinic’s own website featured this photo of Rizza using a Scientology e-Meter with one of its young clients.



According to state investigators, the scam involved a sophisticated operation that brought in unwitting high school students (with the cooperation of some high school educators, who lost their jobs), and then pretended that the kids were given Narconon drug treatments, even though they didn’t need them. Rizza’s role, the state investigator testified, was to wrangle a set of “ghost writers” who created fake treatment reports that were submitted to the state Medi-Cal program for reimbursement. Over several years, the scam netted about $4 million in illegal takings.

Hanan Islam was probably facing a lengthy penalty if she was convicted because this would have been her third felony. But she died in March of cancer at the age of 62.

Two of Rizza’s sisters, who had also been charged in the crime, pleaded no contest recently, and were given very light sentences. Nimat (45) 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 (40) 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 to a misdemeanor.

With the scam’s main figure dead, and the accomplices pleading to almost nothing, why is Rizza Islam so determined to face a felony trial on the infamous ninth floor? Was he really unable to work out something as favorable as the deal his sisters managed to achieve?

The biggest difference between Rizza and his sisters is that while they’ve remained very low profile, he’s spent the last seven years since his charges were announced making a name for himself.

He may downplay his involvement in Scientology these days, but Rizza is an interesting figure in the Scientology-Nation of Islam relationship, and he’s has worked to make himself an NOI “influencer” on social media.

He’s been so successful, last year he was named one of the country’s twelve most pernicious spreaders of vaccine disinformation in a major study.

Still (and we know this is something we’ve pointed out many times before), despite Rizza’s notoriety as an antivaxx firebrand (Alex Jones even admitted he was envious that Rizza had made the list of 12 most problematic disinformation agents), and the years that he’s faced felony charges in the bizarre Medi-Cal fraud scam that made use of high school students and ended the careers of some prominent local African-American educators, the Los Angeles Times has not written a single word about the case.

It will be interesting to see what they do when Rizza is literally on trial in October.

Meanwhile, there’s yet a third trial going on at the same time that will be competing for our attention. The civil trial of Paul Haggis is still scheduled to begin on October 11 in New York even though Haleigh Breest, the former publicist who alleges that Haggis raped her in 2013, has asked the court to move the case up to October 3. We’re still watching to see if the judge in that case agrees to moving the case up, which would, at least, give us a chance to observe the beginning of that trial before we head out to Los Angeles for the Masterson and Islam spectacles.

What a month it’s going to be.


Today’s Scientology happy news. Yes, an excerpt from an actual press release put out by the church this week.


The Grand Mosque of Rome (Moschea di Roma) is the largest mosque in the Western World. At 30,000 square meters, it can accommodate more than 12,000 faithful at a time. Located at the foot of the Monti Parioli, it is also the seat of the Italian Islamic Cultural Center.

A meeting place for religious services, it also serves a cultural and social role, providing religious education, wedding ceremonies, funeral services, exhibitions and conventions. The City Council of Rome donated the land for the mosque in 1974, the first stone was laid in 1984, and the President of the Italian Republic attended its inauguration on 21 June 1995.


Last month, Volunteer Ministers from the Church of Scientology joined mosque members in an environmental initiative in the neighborhood surrounding the mosque, in keeping with the precepts shared by both Muslims and Scientologists. Islam places great emphasis on physical and spiritual cleanliness. And The Way to Happiness, the common-sense moral code written by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, a moral code Scientologists adhere to, enjoins people to safeguard and improve the environment.

The team of volunteers collected and disposed of brambles and shrubs, weeds, brushwood and trash, making access to the mosque by pedestrians easier and restoring the beauty of the area.

“It was a day that required great commitment from all the volunteers because of the overwhelming heat, but we were richly rewarded by the results,” said Elena Martini, spokesperson for the Church of Scientology in Rome.


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 10 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and Jefferson Hawkins helps us understand Scientology’s new marketing ploys. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 9 available to everyone, with such guests as Patty Moher, Geoff Levin, Pete Griffiths, Sunny Pereira, Bruce Hines, Jeffrey Augustine, and Claire Headley. Go here to get the episodes!



Source Code

“One court in Virginia, they proved conclusively that Scientology was a healing science, because it cured things, and actually brought people into court to show that they had been cured of something by Scientology, which proved it was a healing cience, and gave some, and I don’t even think though they had the nerve to call the auditor in and sentence him. I think he remains unsentenced to this day. It was just too much nonsense, you see. In other words, they can go clear around the line. That proves we’re a healing subject, you see. Wild business. Look the length and breadth of the land, I don’t think they could have found anybody who’d been healed by anything on medicine. But they were proving our cases for us.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 29, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The Club Dinner aboard was a great success and the Port Captain’s org officer is filing commendables in the folders of all who contributed. We apparently were a CIA shp that really smuggles cats to hang crowbars on banana trees. But this is all scotched. The guests were very pleased. (I’m going to send bills for advertising to both CIA and the Mafia.) This Club didn’t know they had other clubs in nearby ports. And by the way a recent mission reports the last country we were in all cool. The Rep there reported a flap, failed to report the flap was vanished.” — The Commodore, August 29, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“We are getting into the nooks and crannies of LRH’s mind. Few have done that before.”


Past is Prologue

2001: Excerpts from the latest Freewinds Magazine were posted to a.r.s this week, with a summary of events at an OT summit. “ED INT, Guillaume Lesevre gave the stats for the past year. Nearly 8,000 new people taking their first step on The Bridge. 240 million people reached through radio, TV, print media and dissemination programs. 824,000 people introduced to LRH tech – highest ever. A cumulative total of 3000 events and seminars held which contributed to helping more than 10,000 Scientologists on to their next step on The Bridge. The number of Clears taking their next take on The Bridge increased by nearly 5 times — highest in history.”



Random Howdy

“After the horrorshow called Jonestown and the government-led debacle at Waco, no one has to wonder at the government’s reluctance to revisit Cultland. The only reason they got involved with FLDS was because of the rampant pedophilia. And even with that righteous justification, the Feds got all kinds of shit from the religious right wing in this country.”


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.
‘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, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for October 24 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 filed 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. 4: Destroying a planet with the touch of a finger
[TWO years ago] The Top 25 People Enabling Scientology, No. 18: Mark ‘Marty’ Rathbun
[THREE years ago] Another legal fight brewing over Scientology’s refusal to return future payments
[FOUR years ago] Some countries force Scientology to open the books: Here’s one report on how bad business is
[FIVE years ago] LIVE FROM SAN ANTONIO: Will a former Scientology enforcer be compelled to testify?
[SIX years ago] A Scientologist on the ballot: OC candidate keeping mum about his anti-psych work
[SEVEN years ago] Louisiana congressman posts Narconon pic, then yanks it after we point out Scientology link
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology yesterday and today: Reports from Mark Bunker and Dennis Erlich
[NINE years ago] What the Daily News Left Out of its Story on Scientology in Harlem
[TEN years ago] Court Testimony: Narconon Intentionally Deceived a Florida Drug Court About Its Licensing
[ELEVEN years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 15: Andreas Heldal-Lund


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 2,771 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,276 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,826 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,816 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,707 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,012 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,882 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,987 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,460 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,776 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,342 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,261 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,429 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,009 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,271 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,307 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,022 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,547 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 902 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,077 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,628 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,759 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,097 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,952 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,071 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,427 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,730 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,836 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,234 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,110 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,693 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,188 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,442 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,551 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 29, 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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