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Val Ross: What it was like to infiltrate the FBI for Scientology

This is important to know: A lot of what I’m telling here is because I did something most people in my position didn’t do — I never stopped writing letters home.

My parents never stopped answering. My mother saved all those letters. I didn’t tell them most of what I’m saying here, but those letters with their “acceptable truths” and the photos I sent home allow me to get myself back in the headspace I was in back then. Let’s just say I’m able to “read between my lies.” Otherwise, I’d not remember most of this.

Now back to the story: May 16, 1977, I started my job at the FBI building. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. I envisioned a Pink Pantheresque workplace with people in dark suits and glasses sneaking around corners. L. Ron Hubbard had drilled into our heads that these guys were our sworn enemies.

I walked into a bright, well-lit, and clean office space with plants and photographs. I was welcomed by the receptionist and cheerily offered a cup of coffee or water. I took the water: no caffeine for this pregnant mama. Bear in mind that at this point, at 5-10 and starting from 120 lbs., I was throwing up all the time and fighting to gain weight in my pregnancy, so at about four and a half months pregnant I had gained a total of 10 lbs. I thought I was huge, but I didn’t even look pregnant in the photos I see of me back then.


I was taken on a tour of the offices, then to a conference room with a snack and some water where I met my bosses. I was shaking inside but I “kept my TRS in.”

I worked for three different men. They introduced themselves by their first names, they were all in shirtsleeves no ties. We discussed what I would be doing and they asked if I knew Dictaphone. I said, yes I had used one (once) but was better at shorthand. They all looked at each other. Even back then shorthand was a lost art. I ended up using shorthand more than the Dictaphone but got really good at that too.

My job was a simply clerical one. I went in an office with my steno pad and took dictation or one of “my guys” would drop a tape on my desk. I’d type it and store it to a
mag card, they’d make corrections and I’d feed the cards in, line by line, and make corrections. I was making a whopping $4.30 an hour, and I was taking home more
than $600 a month. However, I had to buy my own breakfast, lunch, and usually dinner, because my hours didn’t coincide with the Manor cafeteria, so it wasn’t all gravy. But I knew how to cook and I packed a lunch.

I bought baby clothes, a crib, a high chair, cloth diapers, arranged for a diaper service, and then splurged when Paul offered to sell me a Minolta SRT 101 for $150, including a 50 mm lens and a 100 mm zoom lens so we would have a way to photograph the baby. I still have them. They aren’t worth anything, but I laugh at the fact that that 100mm zoom weighs three times what my 600 mm zoom lens does these days.

Having a baby, even with the physician coming to our home for a home delivery, was dirt cheap in 1977. From start to finish, office visits to delivery and the follow up appointment, it cost $800 to have my daughter. I had paid that in full before she was born. It was the 1970s, and we were hippies. I carried a huge brown macrame tote bag to work with me every day. It had my lunch, along with various other items, including, but not limited to, if I remember correctly, the kitchen sink.

My bag became a pivotal part of my life during the time I spent at the FBI because it was this big old black hole. I got teased about it, but no one would have considered looking in it. And I rummaged through it on a regular enough basis that it was the perfect way to hide in plain site. No one looked twice if I put something in or took something out of my bag.

There is so much that was never brought up in the court cases for Snow White. I wish I could say what was happening behind the scenes, but the layers of secrecy were such that I only knew the bare minimum that I needed to know to get what I needed. I was told there were certain files that I was supposed to locate and that I was to copy them, return the original files to the drawers and bring the other files home with me. I don’t know how they knew what to ask for, but I do I know there were secrets in every room, and that we were taught that to spill our secrets was to besmirch our honor. The programming is hard to break through. Even telling this, I feel like I am betraying the people who put me in this position.

It was not uncommon for me to have to dig through the filing cabinets while I was working there. I had full access to the “common files” in the central area, and all I had to do to get to the more confidential files was ask one of my guys to unlock the door. Since part of my job was to attach copies of documents to the letters or memoranda I sent out for them, it was easier for them to have me dig the attachment out, copy it, and refile it than to take the time to do it themselves.

While I was in the back file room I was the most vulnerable. I had to be prepared with a ready lie if someone came in and found me in the wrong cabinet. But I had to have the room locked while I was in there, so I had a few seconds notice at least. No one even came in the room while I was there, but I was always scared. My baby always got the hiccups after I exited the file room.

I would get the files with documents I needed to attach, bring a file or two of Scientology-related documents mixed in with the files, pull the door to the file room shut, making sure I wiggled the handle in a show if ensuring it was locked and head for the copy machine. I’d make all the copies and bring the files back to my desk, conscientiously stapling each memo back and putting it back in its correct file. “My guys” were prone to stop by my desk to chit chat, and this seemed to be their favorite time to stop. My desk had a carrel and a shelf where I would put outgoing documents when completed. I got really good at keeping my hands below the carrel while talking to them. I’d get the files all collated, bend down with an armload of papers and rummage for a banana or apple while dropping the extra copies in my bag, then sit up, stack the rest nicely and get the key to the file room again.

I was also ordered to be on high alert for any talk of Scientology. It may have been discussed behind closed doors, but I did not once hear the word Scientology even whispered in my vicinity.

Just in case I haven’t made this clear, to the best of my knowledge, my husband did not have any idea I was with the Guardian’s Office, or what I did during the day at work. This was what my day consisted of. It was actually quite stress-free compared to what I would have to deal with when I went home at night.


Now that I had what Mark considered to be a full time job and he was getting a hundred or so dollars in an oil lease stipend from land his grandparents owned, he decided he needed to be on course full time.

When he got home, it was “my job” to make him a healthy dinner. I enjoyed cooking, but being pregnant and nauseous it wasn’t so much fun. Even back then, Mark was a picky eater. He had a good start on a bleeding ulcer which he “treated” with handfuls of Tums. The night I cooked Beef Bourgogne (my current husband and my children love it when I cook it), he took one bite and threw the plate in my face. That is not an alliteration, it is a fact. It was accompanied by “How can I eat this slop? Fucking mushrooms? How many damn spices did you add anyway? I have to be on course, does this have booze in it?”

I fried him a hamburger with no spices in the frying pan, and that calmed him down. But he got angry again immediately because I had to go across the street. I just took my bag and ran out with no dinner. I had to get the papers out of there.

After that night, I would leave work, go drop off the papers, race to the farmers market, get some innocuous vegetables, then race home, cook a bland meal and wait to see what I had done wrong. And there was always something wrong. “Why the fuck are you wearing heels, you slut?” “You’re pregnant, why did you carry those groceries up?” “Why do I have to go down and get the groceries out of the car, are you an invalid?” “Can’t you be more creative with your meals?” And so on. There was always a “good excuse” for him to fly off the handle and put me in my place, even if I did the exact opposite of what he complained about the day before.

And when he was angry, he hit me. He was very careful to hit me where it wouldn’t show; my ribs and upper chest, (no lower than that while I was pregnant), between my shoulder blades, up and down my shins (he would kick me with the steel covers on the toes of his cowboy boots). Then he’d cry and say he was sorry and tell me he loved me. I never felt so loved or so hated as when I was married to him. Sometimes both in the same minute.

This see-saw went back and forth like this until the morning of July 8, 1977. It was a Friday. I had taken the day off because I had a doctor’s appointment in the Valley at 10:30. Our phone rang at 5:45 am. It was Mark’s brother, Darryl, who lived with his wife in Cedars (now known as Big Blue). They were part of the live-in renos crew that was there 24/7. Cedars of Lebanon had just been purchased for just under $5 million that February. Although there were rumors spread through back channels it was $13 million, the tax assessor’s site shows it sold for $4,968,075.

Darryl was frantic, calling from a pay phone. The staff had been woken by an FBI raid at 5:15, and they were all sent out of the building in their pajamas. The rumor mill was in high swing. He wanted to know if we knew anything. He called 15 minutes later and said he must have had a bad dream, forget the earlier call, he was going to get breakfast and start cleaning. By that time I had gotten dressed and was on the balcony shooting photos of men in suits scurrying in and out of the Manor. They had already been told to zip it over at Cedars. Mark said “something is up.” I most certainly did not say “and I think I’m in it up to my ears.” TRs have never come in so handy. I was the picture of calm while wondering when they would show up on my doorstep and take me away in handcuffs.

I went to my appointment and came home as a panel truck was pulling away from the Manor. Mark said he was going to go on course at 1. I waited until I knew for sure he was in the course room and went across the street myself and down to the basement. Diana Hubbard was nowhere to be found. After discussing it with Diana’s mother Mary Sue, we decided it would look more suspicious if I quit than if I stayed, so we decided I would stay at the FBI until the end of October to see if I could find anything out.

She also asked me to make a 2 a.m. run to the newspaper stands near all the orgs and pull all the papers so the students coming on course Saturday morning wouldn’t be enturbulated. I couldn’t think of a way to do that without including Mark so I pretended I had a great idea to steal all the newspapers we could so no one would know about the raid. He enthusiastically participated. We’d go to the news stand, put in the money for a paper and take them all. He wouldn’t quit until no more papers would fit in my car. Then we took them and dumped them in the Celebrity Centre dumpster.

I called over to let Mary Sue know where they were, then went to bed, wondering what Monday at work would be like.

— Valerie Ross


Technology Cocktail


“In Dianetics you erase the session or incident in which they occurred…The thetan, scales, ARC, exteriorization, ability, freedom, the grades, clearing, and OT levels are
the sole province of Scientology. Earlier writings tend to overlap and intermingle the two subjects. Because one was not permitted to heal, that being frowned on in some countries, Dianetics tended to be suppressed and was lost sight of. Scientology began to be made to try to do Dianetic work. We can now cleanly separate the two and so obtain enormously increased case gains.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1969



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?

[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

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond


[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“The person who is suppressing thetans has an invisible field. He has a total nothingness involved and other types of suppression. So you’ll have suppression of visible things, suppression of invisible things, suppression of matter, energy, space, time. You get suppression of almost anything you can think of. And anytime you suppress anything in a certain time stream, you, of course, are also suppressing time. So time becomes the primary suppression. And therefore, you get the instantaneous quality of the reactive bank, so that all time is now in the reactive bank because of the suppression of the reactive bank. And that is simply not-isness in the reactive bank.” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 19, 1962


Avast, Ye Mateys

“THIS PORT: The Charterers play this port in lower key without press as press is restrained here. Otherwise it’s all as in PRO cruise.” — The Commodore, March 19, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I have trouble sometimes wondering why many people who became Scientologists did so. LRH observed on the Apollo that most of the people there had little understanding of Scientology and ordered everyone to go to the courseroom and study 2 basic books. The ranks of such cesspits as ESMB are filled with people who barely knew anything about the subject who became disillusioned when they didn’t suddenly become magically all-powerful. For a vast portion of the population, TRs are far too steep a gradient. ARC straitwire is too arduous for them. It is a work for many lifetimes.”



Past is Prologue

1997: The Inside Edition TV show aired another segment, with new evidence in the Lisa McPherson case and video of the vigil held in Clearwater in Lisa’s memory. Martin Hunt provided a summary. “Several familiar faces of Scientology observers were in the footage of the picket; I’m sure I saw Dave Touretzky, Ron Newman, Rod Keller, and others in it. The show mentioned something I hadn’t heard before, the name of a different medical officer, a former doctor who lost her license, who was there at the time of Lisa’s death, in contradiction to Ableson’s proclamations about the ignorance of all involved.”


Random Howdy

“I love a good yodel. I think I’m going to have to upload some yodeling vids here shortly. I found some good ones by Nina Hagen and Jewel. I’ll let the people decide democratically.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentenced to 30 years to life on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing March 26, 2024.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, motion to strike/anti-SLAPP motions by Scientology to be heard January 9, 2024.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: motion to file new complaint, hearing on March 20.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration, hearing on March 26.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] Scientology fundraising goes down the rabbit hole in the most oblivious flier ever!
[TWO years ago] Scientology just sent its celebs the longest email in history. It’s an orgy of propaganda!
[THREE years ago] It’s wedding bells for Scientology celeb and ‘The Walking Dead’ alum Alanna Masterson
[FOUR years ago] David Miscavige deposition in sex abuse lawsuit canceled after Scientology pushes back
[FIVE years ago] Cops, soft porn, and psychiatry: The curious origin of Scientology’s Snow White Program
[SIX years ago] Not-ready-for-Scientology TV: L. Ron Hubbard’s fortune telling tricks still being sold today
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s pitch to Clearwater: Let us buy land for hotel, and we’ll gussy up downtown
[EIGHT years ago] A Scientology spy comes forward: Now he’s ready for ‘war’ with David Miscavige
[NINE years ago] ‘Going Clear’ fallout: Imagining the fate of Scientology and David Miscavige
[TEN years ago] Finally, a last stand against space cooties: It’s Scientology’s New Operating Thetan Level 7!
[ELEVEN years ago] Early On, Scientology Turns You Into a Snitch


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Tammy Synovec has not seen her daughter Julia in 2,844 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,339 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,854 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,404 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,394 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,275 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,579 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,450 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 5,002 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,343 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,910 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,829 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,997 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,578 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,839 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,875 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,591 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,155 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,470 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,645 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,196 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,327 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,665 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,520 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,638 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,995 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,298 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,404 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,802 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,678 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,243 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,756 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 4,010 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,119 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 19, 2024 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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