Bennetta Slaughter annoints herself Queen of Slatkinland
25 Jun 2001
Bennetta Slaughter is one of over 500 disgruntled investors seeking money - and answers - from Reed Slatkin. But according to these letters, she is more than just another name on a creditor list.
She is actively organizing other investors to sign on with attorney Cynthia Cohen (Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP) (more on them later), one of the lawyers involved in the bankruptcy proceeding, and she is also advising them on everything from whether to fill out an SEC survey (don't bother, but if you do, be sure to send her a copy too) to tips for dealing with the IRS.
Bennetta is also apparently very interested in money. She wants money from investors - 'retainer fees', she explains, to pay for 'their' lawyer. She is also very interested in which of Reed's investors made money, and which ones were left holding the bag. Although she doesn't explain exactly why she needs this information, she suggests that recipients of her missives send her email with the subject "Withdrew More".
Bennetta Slaughter has made a name for herself in Clearwater for her tireless organization efforts for the Church of Scientology, which views the city as its 'spiritual headquarters'. From winter carnivals to anti-drug marathons -- or even handling the bad public relations that result from a high profile fatality -- when the Church's Office of Special Affairs needs a job done right, but -- for whatever reason -- can't do it themselves, the first person they seem to call is Bennetta.
At slatkinfraud.com, this makes us wonder.
Why does Bennetta care so much about the individual financial situations of the investors she contacts? Sure, everyone wants to get money back from Reed. But isn't it the job of the investor committee, and the trustee, to determine where the money went, and who got out ahead?
Who is the 'we' to whom she refers, particularly in this letter, where she mentions how important it is that 'we get as many spots on the creditors committee as possible.' Who, exactly, does this 'we' represent - and are these investors fully aware of Bennetta's close relationship with an organization that is, heretofore, a shadowy third party in the Slatkin scandal, the Church of Scientology?
Finally - how, exactly, was Bennetta chosen for this role as go-between? Was she nominated? Did she volunteer herself?
All of Reed's investors - regardless of the money they may have lost or made, or whether Scientologist or not - would be well advised to exercise due diligence before signing on to be part of Bennetta's "group." And those who decide against throwing in with Bennetta's lot might also want to keep a close eye on exactly whose interests her efforts most benefit. These letters suggest that there may well be more to Bennetta's agenda than meets the eye.
The Bennetta Letters
Letter #1 (page 1) - Bennetta tells investors that according to "their lawyer" Cindy, there's no immediate rush to fill out the SEC survey some may have received before she has a chance to read it. The letter also instructs any investors who choose to do so anyway to email a copy to Bennetta.
Letter #2 (page 2) - In this letter, Bennetta discusses the case so far, particularly with regards to the difference between Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the role of a trustee.
Letter #3 (page 4) - In a Friday letter, Bennetta reminds investors to send her their cheque for retainer fees -- $250 - by Monday, by overnight mail if necessary, and exhorts investors with an account over $7 million to contact her as soon as possible to be put in contact with the attorney involved in setting up the investor committee. She notes, "we should get as many spots on that committee as we can." She also promises to begin compiling a list of questions to be answered by the lawyer or a CPA, as well as advice on dealing with the IRS.
Letter #4 (page 6) - Bennetta talks taxes, and passes on advice from "a CPA firm in our group," but cautions investors to seek advice from their own accountant before taking action.
Letter #5 (page 8) - Bennetta brings news from the most recent creditor meeting, including a description of the event itself, and tidbits gleaned from Reed's attorney about hard, soft and missing assets.
Letter #6 (page 10) - Bennetta announces that the creditor committee has been formed, and lists its members. She explains that it is made up of the top six unsecured creditors, plus one investor chosen at random. She notes that the committee had its first meeting, and discusses the process that will be followed. She mentions that Cindy Cohn represented Arlo Gordin at this first meeting, and reminds her group that members of the committee are expected to represent the interests of the investors as whole, and not their personal interests. She also discusses upcoming events, including an eventual, but as yet unscheduled, debtor's examination at which Reed would appear, and explains how investors can file for special notice to be notified of hearings.
Bennetta goes on to ask investors who 'withdrew more than deposited' to get in touch with her immediately, and suggests they send her an email with "withdrawn more" in the subject, and "give her the scoop." She signs off by asking for retainer money yet again, and ends by reminding investors to "remember who you really are, and what you really are - you will prevail."
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