7 Scientology Crime Syndicate: `They've Been Doing This For Years'

Scientology Crime Syndicate

From the Clearwater Sun, Monday, January 23, 1984:

Officials 'not surprised' by investigation into sect
By George-Wayne Shelor
Sun Staff Writer

An investigation by federal authorities into the Church of Scientology for complicity in a suspected scheme to entrap a Tampa federal judge "came as no surprise, and that's unfortunate," several Clearwater officials, Pinellas County politicians and others involved in legal action with the Clearwater-based sect said Sunday.

Responding to a copyright story in Sunday's edition of the Clearwater Sun, which detailed the suspected 1982 plot and subsequent investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Pinellas County Commissioner Gabe Cazares said he was "appalled, but not at all surprised," by the details of the suspected plot because "this is the kind of thing they've been doing for years."

According to a month-long investigation by the Sun, the U.S. Attorney's office in Tampa is investigating the purported sect plot, which involved an attempt to lure U.S. District Judge Ben Krentzman aboard a boat equipped with drugs, prostitutes and hidden cameras and microphones. At the time, Krentzman was presiding over a $16 million lawsuit filed against the sect by Tonja Burden, who asked for compensation for alleged mental abuse, brainwashing, imprisonment and fraud, according to public documents. Sources told the Sun that Scientology officials anticipating an unfavorable ruling in the case and the elaborate extortion operation was implemented to compromise Krentzman.

Although U.S. Attorney Robert Merkle declined to confirm or deny his office is conducting the investigation, details of the suspected scheme and federal investigation were confirmed by confidential informed sources.

Sandy Block, a sect spokesman in Los Angeles, denied the allegations.

"After reading the article," Block said, "our position is that it's based on manufactured documents and unverified. We're not particularly interested in talking..."

Block said the Sun "made the article up."

"There's no basis for fact in the story. There's no investigation," he said, refusing to elaborate.l

Contacted Saturday night, prior to publication of the report, Church of Scientology attorney John G. Peterson dismissed the substance of the story.

The alleged plot was constructed during February through May 1982, and was implemented to a degree, sources said. But Krentzman, now semiretired from the bench and no longer presiding over the Burden trial, never board the boat and was unaware of the operation until brief recently by authorities.

Contacted at his Clearwater home Sunday, Krentzman said, "I though (Sunday's report) was a very fair article. ... It was a balanced presentation. But I really have no other comment."

Others, however, were less reserved in their statements.

"I think that the city of Clearwater is very concerned about the allegations (in Sunday's paper and in the past) about the Church of Scientology," Clearwater Mayor Kathy Kelly said Sunday afternoon. "We also are very concerned on behalf of the people of Clearwater who are very concerned about such allegations.

"The type of allegations we see and hear are, unfortunately, not shocking. There have been many similar allegations in the past, and that is unfortunate. And although no finding of guilt has yet been handed down in a court, the fact does remain that we constantly hear such allegations."

Speaking as the representative for Clearwater's 100,000 residents, Mrs. Kelly said, "We are also very unhappy that such an organization, continually surrounded by controversy, is in the midst of our city."

She said that in the future, as in the past, city officials in every department "will cooperate wherever they can when asked for assistance by other law enforcement agencies."

"What they (Scientologists) have apparently done to try to intimidate and compromise a federal judge is just beyond belief," said County Commissioner Cazares, who himself was the target of a Scientology plot several years ago, according to seized sect documents.

"And if this revelation does not put to rest (Scientology) apologists' claims that 'We're just a poor, mistreated, misunderstood religion,' then I don't understand what will."

Cazares, a former Clearwater mayor presently involved in litigation with the sect, said he hoped recent charges and allegations of Scientology wrongdoings "will alert the people of this city to what is really going on."

"I hope this puts to an end forever to people saying, 'I don't want to get involved.' They don't have to get involved, they already are involved," he said. "They live in this city which has, going on eight years now, been occupied by a paramilitary organization.

"Are they blind? What more do they need to know?"

Charles LeCher, also a former mayor of Clearwater, said he was "glad they've been exposed."

"It looks like they have not, contrary to what they've said, changed their spots," LeCher said. "They're just worse than ever. And thank God that Judge Krentzman is not corruptible."

LeCher said that, in light of Sunday's revelations, "I'm sorry that the (present Clearwater City) Commission did not vote unanimously on both readings of the ordinance."

LeCher was referring to the recently adopted charitable-solicitation ordinance, aimed at the Church of Scientology, which calls for registration of all groups that raise more than $10,000 a year from the general public in Clearwater. The city has been sued by a number of religious groups who oppose the ordinance.

The City Commission adopted the ordinance late last year by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner James Berfield casting the dissenting vote.

"Now I hope those who voted 'no' will change their vote because of this latest development," LeCher added.

Clearwater City Commissioner Jim Calderbank, who sat on the board in 1982 when the city held a series of hearings into the activities of the controversial sect, said that the details of the Sun story are "very much like what we heard throughout the hearings. And I would hope that the U.S. Attorney goes forward and prosecutes those involved.

"Whether or not you claim to be a religion, this type of alleged offense should be investigated and prosecuted. Claiming to be a religion does not put you above the law."

Click here for some additional truth about the Scientology crime syndicate: XENU.NET


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