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She was branded a Scientologist villain by some online. But is she a villain at all?

[Grace Hunter and Anthony Tardugno]

Last summer, there was a small news item in Clearwater, Florida about a 75-year-old woman named Grace Hunter who had been arrested after a hit-and-run crash with her car that had left a 51-year-old cyclist dying.

Here’s how the Tampa Bay Times described it…

A Clearwater woman has been arrested in connection with an Aug. 16 hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist. Grace Hunter, 75, has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury and driving with a license suspended or revoked causing serious bodily injury. The 51-year-old victim was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg in critical condition and was pronounced dead on Aug. 19.

This was strictly a local story, and we didn’t hear anything about it. But then, a few weeks later, that news item was shared on Facebook groups that keep an eye on Scientology. The reason? Grace Hunter, the woman arrested in the hit-and-run, is an OT Scientologist who was fairly well known by former Scientologists in the area. She had also been a registered nurse.

“The bicyclist was on his way home from work at Publix. Grace is a Dianetics and Scientology ‘counselor’ and a NURSE!!” wrote one person who shared the news at Facebook.


“Well, there are certain kinds of conduct by which you can know Scientologists,” responded another person. Other comments included, “If she’s at cause over MEST then this was intentional.” And “Just how unsafe can the Church be that she runs away instead of facing up and at least helping that person best she could.”

Besides the Scientology connection, there was another reason that the item interested us.

It involved the death of a 51-year-old cyclist.

Readers at the Underground Bunker know that your proprietor is an avid two-wheeler, and that we can be found on a bicycle practically every day when it isn’t raining or snowing. And as much as we try to ride on bike paths and away from heavily-trafficked roads, we have had close calls with cars, and we know there’s some risk every time we pull on our cleats. Also, data backs up the notion that cycling deaths are increasing in this country, and too often motorists pay no price for causing accidents.

In fact, just the day after the hit-and-run involving Grace Hunter in Clearwater, on August 17 Outside magazine happened to publish a story about a major research effort that found not only an alarming increase in cycling deaths in the U.S. but very little consequence for drivers.

In most of the stories we gathered information on, there were no consequences for the driver or even scrutiny of their behavior. Law enforcement rarely issued a ticket to drivers who killed cyclists. Criminal charges for the crash itself were even less common, often occurring only when a driver was intoxicated.

In this case, we were naturally curious about the identity of the cyclist. We wondered what the circumstances were that surrounded the hit-and-run. But we weren’t initially able to find anything about him, and we put the story aside for the moment.

Then, this past week, we heard from one of the Publix co-workers of the man who had died in the accident. They not only identified him as Anthony Tardugno, originally of Rome, New York, but they told us something really alarming: they claimed that charges had been dropped against Hunter, and it had something to do with her being a Scientologist.

Now we were really interested. Was a Scientologist getting away with murder? And what was known about her victim?

We started digging.

The first thing we found was that the co-worker was mistaken about charges. Grace Hunter is facing a felony count in the first degree for what happened on August 16, and she will have a pretrial hearing on February 13. She’s currently out of custody on a $10,000 bond.

Meanwhile, at a memorial page, Anthony’s Publix co-workers poured out affection for a man who had touched a lot of lives.

“Everyone at Publix loved Anthony and his amazing personality and huge heart.” “When we went mudding, or swimming at the Hyatt Clearwater Beach or just hanging out, it was all good times.” “Anthony had a wickedly loving smile for everyone. And everyone loved him, and just loved having him around.” “I thought about him often after he left Rome. I got a surprise phone call from him about a month ago. I was happy to hear his voice. He was a good friend of my family.”


What had happened to him? In the online Pinellas County docket, we found the original police report that described the accident.

At 2:55 pm on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, Grace Hunter was driving her white 2017 Toyota Yaris northbound on Myrtle Avenue, an artery substantial enough to carry the designation US-19 ALT. It has two lanes going in each direction.

Grace was making a left turn onto a smaller side road, Jones Street, at an intersection that had no light. She would have had the right of way once oncoming traffic was not an issue.

But as she made her turn and began to enter Jones Street, Anthony was coming up Myrtle Ave northbound on the sidewalk and had entered the crosswalk just as Grace was turning in front of him.

Anthony, on his bicycle, ran into the side of Grace’s car just behind her driver’s side door. The collision resulted in head trauma for Anthony.

We have created this simple diagram to help you visualize the incident. The photo is taken from Google Street View, so please ignore the automobiles seen in the image.


The report states that after the collision occurred, Grace drove for about 100 feet more and then stopped. Witnesses told police that she stayed for a moment, and then drove on.

Video taken from her condo complex showed her arriving home after the incident, and exiting the driver’s seat of her car.

She is facing a first-degree felony count according to an information filed by the district attorney on Monday, for leaving the scene of a crash involving a death.

The police report does not indicate whether Anthony Tardugno was wearing a helmet when he collided with Grace’s Toyota Yaris.

But as religious as your proprietor is about wearing a helmet any time we’re on the bicycle no matter how long or where we’re riding, we know that there’s only so much protection that a foam hat will provide in a hard crash.


Looking at Anthony’s own legal record, he seemed to be a bit of a traffic ticket magnet, picking up citations once or twice a year going back to the late 1990s. Most recently, he had been cited three times in 2020 for red light violations, and had been getting around on a bicycle since then.

Was he a risk taker, and was he reckless on the afternoon of August 16? Going against traffic on a sidewalk and then diving into a crosswalk was not the safest maneuver, and neither he nor Grace may have had time to evade each other once they realized they were on a collision course.

Grace should have stayed to be on hand for police. She could have explained that Anthony had run into her and not the other way around. But with her license either suspended or revoked, she must have panicked at seeing the injured man on the ground.

Anthony Tardugno was a well-loved man, very popular with his coworkers, and a cyclist. We wish he had taken a safer way home that day and had traveled in the direction of traffic, giving drivers a better chance to see him.

Grace Hunter should not have been driving on a suspended license, if that allegation is true. But it’s hard to see from the description of the event that she was driving recklessly or intended harm to anyone.

Yes, she is a Scientologist. And we hope that she reconsiders her association with that controlling, extortionate organization.

But she is not a villain. And neither was Anthony Tardugno.


Technology Cocktail

“In the earliest beginnings of Dianetics it is possible to trace a considerable psychoanalytic influence. There was the matter of ransacking the past, the matter of believing with Freud that if one could talk over his difficulties they would alleviate, and there was the matter of concentrating on early childhood. Our first improvements on psychoanalysis itself consisted of the abandonment of talk alone and the direct address to the incident in its own area of time as a mental image picture susceptible to erasure” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1956




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 as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

— The Underground Bunker Podcast

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— SPECIAL: Your Proprietor’s updates on the Danny Masterson trial

[1] Sep 21 [2] Sep 28 [3] Oct 4 [4] Oct 10 [5] Oct 11: Day One [6] Oct 12: Day Two [7] Oct 13: Day Three [8] Oct 17: Day Four [9] Oct 18: Day Five [10] Oct 19: Day Six [11] Special interview with Chris Shelton, Oct 19 [12] Oct 20: Day Seven [13] Oct 21: Day Eight [14] First week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [15] Oct 24: Day Nine [16] Oct 25: Day Ten [17] Oct 27: Day Eleven [18] Oct 28: Day Twelve [19] Second week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [20] Halloween special [21] Nov 2: Day Thirteen [22] Nov 3: Day Fourteen [23] Nov 4: Day Fifteen [24] Third week in review [25] Nov 5, Saturday special [26] Nov 6, Sunday special [27] Nov 7, Day Sixteen [28] Lisa Marie Presley breaking news [29] Nov 8, Day Seventeen [30] Nov 9, Day Eighteen [31] Nov 10, Day Nineteen


Source Code


“I had the officers of six other ships in my squadron come aboard, and only one of them stood alongside of me, and the other five were trying to convince me that if I kept this up I was going to get everybody killed. I said, ‘Kept what up?’ ‘You keep attacking these submarines.’ I said, ‘What are we supposed to be doing, gentlemen?’ And they said, ‘Well, every time a submarine shows up, you needn’t signal attack! It’s stupid! You’re going to get somebody hurt!’ I proved to them tactically that if you did not suddenly attack a submarine and if you did retire behind the convoy every time one showed up, you’re going to get yourself killed for sure — for sure! This was not in their level of agreement. They never did get it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 1, 1957


Avast, Ye Mateys

“You realize, Officers and Crew, if you bring this cruise off splendidly, no port of the entire Med or Continental Europe is closed to us. The enemy anti-ship action will have been totally defeated. Keep that in mind when a little extra zing has to go into the action. It will be a big coup if you bring it off.” — The Commodore, February 1, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“What surprises me is why so many people at least in public groups outside Rons Org drop off the CBR Bridge at around OT 16. What CBR states about the Other Determined Case and the Pan-Determined Case is absolutely true. It doesn’t matter what the route is. These vast areas of case are in truth what we actually need to handle yet only a very small number of people seem to recognise this, assume responsibility and step beyond the limitations of their own self-determined viewpoints. Unless a person assumes at least a willingness to assume total responsibility for all interactions across all dynamics and across the entirety of existence itself plus the totality of our theta relationships, the brilliant, the good, the bad and the ugly, as those relationships, interactions and dynamics, then the person basically doesn’t stand a chance of summoning up the necessary stability and confront to handle the other determined and pan determined case and so remains doomed to eternity, due to a condition of diminished responsibility. Thus the New Civilisation Game. Without PURPOSE, a person simply doesn’t make it through. That’s my take on why people drop off the CBR Bridge without completing the cycle of action to its final EP and Valuable Final Exchangeable Product.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Newspaper coverage of the Germany controversy continued this week, much of it initiated by the State Department report. From the front page of the Washington Post: “The report, to be issued Wednesday, will chastise Germany for what a senior administration official called ‘a campaign of harassment and intimidation’ against the controversial church. He said the United States, seeking to protect religious freedom, has urged Germany through diplomatic channels ‘not to prosecute people for wrong thinking’ but has been rebuffed. The German response is, ‘We won’t change our policy, no matter what you say,’ a German diplomat here said. ‘You are a big country. You can afford to have militias and cults. We can’t.’ He said Germany with 80 million people in a Montana-size country and a unique sensitivity to the dangers of ‘extremism’ because of its Nazi past, is obliged to limit activities of groups perceived as threats to national well-being. The U.S.-German disagreement over Scientology is a rare irritant in America’s generally excellent relations with a key European ally. Although both sides agree it is hardly a major source of friction, the issue has a high decibel level because of the involvement of high-profile Scientologists such as actor Tom Cruise. To the German government, Scientology is not a legitimate religion, but a greedy, cult-like organization built on ‘pseudo-science,’ in which ‘membership can lead to psychological and physical dependency, to financial ruin and even to suicide,’ according to a position paper distributed by the German Embassy here.”



Random Howdy

“I still keep coming back to the fact that the mind control/brainwashing/undue influence only worked on a very small percentage of those exposed to it. I think that the focus should be on what the 5 percent (or thereabouts) of the exposed population who joined groups like Scientology, the NSDAP or the Khmer Rouge have in common.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Mistrial declared November 30. Retrial scheduled, jury selection begins March 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Plea deadline scheduled for December 16.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff scheduled to time served with three years supervised release, restitution of $9.7 million.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for March 1 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial hearing December 9.
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. Hearing November 17 to argue the arbitration motions, awaiting ruling.
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 at least through February 7.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Case settled ahead of scheduled Dec 6 trial.
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.



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] This document really captures what it’s like to be a Scientology indentured servant
[TWO years ago] Did Tom Mesereau just reveal his strategy for Danny Masterson’s crucial prelim?
[THREE years ago] What are Valerie Haney’s options after Scientology won its arbitration motion?
[FOUR years ago] NFL great Marshall Faulk plugs Scientology front group on Fox News
[FIVE years ago] Viewers react to Tampa NBC affiliate saying Scientology is sponsoring Winter Olympics
[SIX years ago] The odd and slightly troubling thing Elon Musk and L. Ron Hubbard have in common
[EIGHT years ago] About that Scientology ad you saw on TV before and during the Super Bowl
[NINE years ago] Jon Atack takes apart the Scientology E-meter
[TEN years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 5: Your Mind is a 1950s Computer
[ELEVEN years ago] The 5 Worst Things Judges Have Said About Scientology


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 2,927 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,432 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,982 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,972 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,863 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,167 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,038 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,143 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,616 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,932 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,498 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,417 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,585 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,166 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,427 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,464 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,179 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,743 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,058 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,233 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,784 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,915 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,253 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,108 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,227 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,583 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,886 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,992 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,390 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,266 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,849 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,344 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,598 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,707 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 1, 2023 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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