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A.r.s Week in Review - 5/27/2001

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  • Rod Keller
    Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 6, Issue 6 5/27/2001 by Rod Keller [rkeller@voicenet.com] copyright 2001 Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
    Message 1 of 1 , May 27, 2001
      Week in Review Volume 6, Issue 6
      by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
      copyright 2001

      Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review summarizes the most significant
      postings from the Usenet group Alt.religion.scientology for the preceding
      week for the benefit of those who can't follow the group as closely as
      they'd like. Out of thousands of postings, I attempt to include news of
      significant events, new affidavits, court rulings, new contributors,
      whatever. I hope you find it useful. Like many readers of a.r.s, I have a
      kill file. So please take into consideration that I may not have seen some
      of the most significant postings.

      The articles in A.r.s Week in Review are brief summaries of articles
      posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original
      articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to
      find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles
      in the newsgroup before expiring them.

      Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available. Subscriptions are
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      see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/weekinreview. PDA channel available at

      Week in Review is archived at:


      > Battle Creek

      The Kalamazoo Gazette reported on May 26th that Scientology is being
      welcomed to Battle Creek, Michigan as they restore a landmark hotel to be
      a new org.

      "Blowers and fellow church members were working on a flower garden
      designed to attract butterflies. 'I'm really glad that we are moving
      here,' said the 30-year-old handyman. 'Until now, I've had to drive back
      and forth to Ann Arbor every week for services.'

      "Now that the group has purchased the 71-year-old, four-story downtown
      structure from a Grand Rapids bank for $235,000, the Ann Arbor church may
      eventually close. It will take at least a year to refurbish the first
      floor of the hotel for church purposes.

      "Celebrities such as John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Jenna Elfman have
      publicly promoted the religion, which Scientologists estimate has about 9
      million adherents worldwide, with about 10,000 in Michigan. Critics claim
      church members are not nearly that numerous, here or worldwide. They also
      charge that Scientology is a religion that seeks to control the mind, life
      and finances of its believers.

      "'People in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek should be wary,' said Kristi
      Wachter, a California anti-Scientology activist. A former student of
      Scientology, she organizes regular pickets outside the Los Angeles
      headquarters of the faith. 'Power is what this religion is all about,'
      said Wachter. 'They want influence, to expand their program and to have
      people embrace all of what L. Ron Hubbard taught.' James Bratt, professor
      of American history and religion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, said
      the Church of Scientology has the reputation of 'being a cult that is
      involved in mind control.'

      "Opened in 1930, the hotel was built in Indiana limestone with terra-cotta
      trim. Much of the rehabilitation work - the cost of which will probably
      top more than $1 million - is being done by church members. Eventually,
      licensed contractors will be called in to do specialized work such as
      wiring and plumbing.

      "'We are generally thrilled to have the church come in to rehabilitate the
      old hotel and keep it from getting any more deteriorated than it already
      is,' said Ted Dearing, president and CEO of the Battle Creek Area Chamber
      of Commerce. As for the controversial nature of the church, most people in
      Battle Creek are taking a wait-and-see attitude, he said. 'It remains to
      be seen how the community will react until they are operational,' he

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      > Ben Shaw

      Bob Minton posted a letter from Ben Shaw of Scientology's Office of
      Special Affairs to his parole officer, claiming that Bob is in violation
      for assisting Keith Henson's move to Canada.

      "One of the terms of his probation is; 'You will live and remain at
      liberty without violating any law or any injunction (temporary or
      permanent) entered by this Court. A conviction in a court of law shall not
      be necessary in order for such a violation to constitute a violation of
      your probation.' One of Mr. Minion's associates is H. Keith Henson. Mr.
      Henson was found guilty for interfering, with threat or force, with the
      free exercise of the Scientology religion.

      "On the day of his conviction Mr. Henson and his wife picketed the court
      house with a sign displaying the phone number of the Lisa McPherson Trust
      in Clearwater. Mr. Henson fled to Canada. A warrant has been issued for
      his arrest for this most recent breach o£ California law. Mr. Minton
      placed a posting on the newsgroup bragging that 'I helped him (Henson)
      escape BEFORE the fact.' And in another posting which Mr. Minton directed
      to Mr. Henson, he asked, 'You have enough money up there in Canada? If
      not, just let me know.'

      "Aiding and abetting the commission of a crime is a violation of
      California Penal Code. Mr. Minton therefore appears to be in violation of
      the terms of his probation. I assume that you will take appropriate action
      in dealing with this matter."

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      > CCHR

      A Scientology press release described a May 23rd event for the Citizens
      Commission on Human Rights in Los Angeles.

      "More than 1600 people joined politicians and celebrities on Sunset
      Boulevard Friday evening to celebrate the grand opening of a new permanent
      Exhibition exposing psychiatric abuse. The exhibit includes a 10 feet high
      pill bottle representing the more than 6.2 billion psychiatric pills
      foisted off on 6 million children nationwide. Attending the opening was
      Lisa Marie Presley who stated: 'I believe psychiatrists are creating an
      epidemic by labeling children with bogus mental disorders and then putting
      them on drugs. This is abhorrent to me.'

      "Speaking at the gala event was Golden Globe award-winning actress Jenna
      Elfman who highlighted the harm done by psychiatrists to great artists
      such as Nobel Prize Winning author, Ernest Hemingway and Judy Garland. Ms.
      Elfman spoke of the tragedy of millions of American children being placed
      on similar psychiatric drugs.

      "The exhibit's documentary-style photographs, images and information
      chronicle the 300-year history of psychiatry's failures and abuses. Ms.
      Christie Van Cleave, Vice Chair of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce,
      welcomed CCHR International to Sunset Blvd. and congratulated it for being
      part of the remarkable renaissance in Hollywood."

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      > In Memoriam

      The St. Petersburg Times reported on May 16th the death of Jan Savoie in

      "SAVOIE, JANICE 'JAN,' 60, of Clearwater, died May 9, 2001 at Hospice
      House Woodside, Pinellas Park. She was born in Albany, N.Y., and came here
      in the early 1980s from Miami. She was a bookkeeper and a member of Church
      of Scientology. Survivors include her mother, Marie Savoie, Clearwater; a
      sister, Ruth Savoie, Ocean Shores, Wash.; two nieces and two

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      > Czech Republic

      The Prague Post reported on May 23rd that a proposed law in the Czech
      Republic would allow more freedom for minority religions and Scientology.

      "The Cabinet has approved a two-tiered bill on religious freedom that
      would make it much easier for small churches to gain official status. If
      approved by both houses of Parliament, the nation's roughly 5,000 Muslims
      will regain state recognition. The current law gives official status to
      churches that produce 10,000 signatures of adult permanent residents who
      claim to be devotees. For the Czech Muslim community, composed mostly of
      visiting students, this has been an impossible task. Under the new law,
      religions would gain such recognition with only 300 signatures.

      "To obtain the more substantial rights Muslims are seeking - to set up
      schools, perform marriages and visit prisons - will require a 10-year
      waiting period and 20,000 signatures. The new law could confer legitimacy
      on controversial groups like the Church of Scientology. Politicians in
      neighboring Germany have threatened to outlaw the church, which they claim
      brainwashes and extorts its members. 'We are extremely wary of
      Scientology,' says Nadeje Mandysova, general secretary of the Czech
      Ecumenical Council, which represents 11 Christian churches. 'They
      manipulate people, and we would not like to see them become established in
      our country.'

      "But Jirka Voracek, press spokesman for the local Center for Dianetics,
      the doctrine on which Scientology is based, says his religion is widely
      misunderstood. 'When you look at the press, there is no chance for people
      to find out what Scientology is all about,' he says. 'All we do is make
      people more aware of their own emotions and what's going on around them.
      But it's not for everybody.' Voracek says the approximately 300
      Scientologists here would take advantage of the new law to gain official

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      > Jesse Prince

      The trial of Jesse Prince, accused of growing marijuana at his home in
      Largo, Florida was held this week. The jury could not reach a verdict, and
      the prosecutor has decided not to re-try the case. The Tampa Tribune
      reported on May 23rd that Scientology's private investigators were
      involved in the investigation.

      "For months, a high-profile attorney for a prominent critic of the Church
      of Scientology has tried to show the church is behind a minor drug charge
      against his client. Now, on the eve of Jesse Prince's trial on a
      misdemeanor charge of growing marijuana, defense lawyer Denis deVlaming
      has hit what he considers pay dirt.

      "Largo police Sgt. Howard Crosby testified he quickly learned of the
      church's involvement after a private detective accused Prince of being a
      marijuana and cocaine dealer. 'From Day One, when they told me who these
      people were that were involved and what's going on, I just wanted to get
      rid of this case as quickly as possible,' Crosby said.

      "After Prince's August 2000 arrest on the misdemeanor cultivation charge,
      the private detective suggested additional charges of sale or possession
      of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, because a school was near Prince's
      home, and child abuse, because two children lived in the home, Crosby
      said. 'And I said, 'A marijuana plant on the back porch? I'm not going to
      go there.''"

      From the St. Petersburg Times on May 24th:

      "The elaborate case is over a single marijuana plant that the State
      Attorney's Office says was growing in a pot on Prince's lanai when an
      armed tactical team from the Largo Police Department searched his house on
      Aug. 11, 2000. But defense attorney Denis deVlaming said the case is
      really about the efforts of the Church of Scientology to discredit Prince,
      a former Scientologist who is a key witness in a wrongful-death lawsuit
      against the church.

      "Displaying a flow chart with 'Church of Scientology' written across the
      top in red, deVlaming outlined a web of connections between the church,
      its lawyers and their private investigators who were watching and trailing
      Prince every day for months, and eventually went to police with
      information that led to his arrest. 'Every day the agents of the Church of
      Scientology are following the man, telling people by cell phone where he
      is, what he's doing, what they can expect,' deVlaming said.

      "He also showed the jury a video of Prince's arrest taken from across the
      street from his home. 'The significance of the tape is the police didn't
      make the tape. A private investigator was sitting outside the house. Let
      me tell you, police don't tell you when they execute a warrant,' deVlaming

      From The Tampa Tribune on May 25th:

      "Jurors in a misdemeanor marijuana case were unable to reach a verdict
      Thursday night on whether a prominent Church of Scientology critic had an
      illegal plant growing in his back yard. 'Everyone thinks he was set up,' a
      juror said of defendant Jesse Prince. The man did not want to be
      identified. Juror Tiffany Scurlock said she had a hard time with the
      church's involvement in the case. Private detectives working for the
      church shadowed Prince for months before succeeding in having him charged
      by Largo police with growing a marijuana plant on his deck. 'It has a lot
      to do with entrapment,' Scurlock said. 'I felt the Church of Scientology
      had a lot to do with setting him up. I felt he was guilty but there was a
      lot of setting up going on.'

      "Mike Rinder, a member of Scientology's board of directors, said the
      church wants Prince exposed as a drug user because Prince repeatedly has
      testified against the church in court cases.

      "The jury, which deliberated five hours, was split 4-2 in favor of
      acquittal, and at one point only one juror was holding out for a guilty
      verdict, said the male juror who asked to remain anonymous. The juror said
      no one on the panel believed the testimony of a private detective hired by
      the church to befriend Prince and gain entry into his home. It was that
      detective who turned informant and helped Largo police arrest Prince."

      From the St. Petersburg Times on May 26th:

      "Private investigator Barry Gaston said he was hired because he is black,
      like Prince, and befriended Prince using a false name. Gaston said he was
      paid $14,000 for his work. In his closing arguments Prince's lawyer Denis
      deVlaming hammered home a point that would stick in some jurors minds.
      'A real church is a house of God,' deVlaming said. 'You tell me what house
      of God hires somebody like Gaston to be able to infiltrate a life?'

      "The jurors deadlocked after five hours of deliberations and a mistrial
      was declared. On Friday, the State Attorney's Office dropped the charge
      against Prince, capping a bizarre case that, in the end, left the church
      explaining its tactics. 'We've made the decision not to retry Mr.
      Prince,' said prosecutor Lydia Wardell on Friday. 'It was just time that
      we decided we'd spent enough time and energy and money on this particular

      "Mike Rinder, a top Scientology official, said the case became trial by
      innuendo and deVlaming effectively deflected attention from the critical
      issue: Prince's drug possession. If the jurors were concerned with
      Scientology's role, Rinder said, 'it's just a matter of prejudice.' Rinder
      said investigators have watched Prince because he has a history of making
      violent threats against church members.

      "Prince's defense cost an estimated $45,000, said Stacy Brooks, president
      of the Lisa McPherson Trust, a Scientology watchdog organization in
      downtown Clearwater where Prince works. The Trust, which is funded mostly
      with money from millionaire Scientology critic Robert Minton, paid
      Prince's legal bills, she said. The case was the third time in a year a
      member of the Lisa McPherson trust has been on trial for misdemeanor
      criminal charges in cases that involve the Church of Scientology.
      DeVlaming represented all three, and none were convicted. In all, the
      trust has spent close to $150,000 in legal fees, Brooks said.

      "'The reason Jesse and Bob and I wanted this to go to trial is we wanted
      the information to be made public that Scientology does this to people,'
      said Brooks. For his part, Prince said: 'The thing that's most important
      to me that happened in this case is we stood up and fought it.'"

      From a St. Petersburg Times editorial on May 26th:

      "You have to be courageous to publicly criticize the Church of
      Scientology. The organization recently proved - again - how far it will
      go to investigate, smear and intimidate critics. Jesse Prince is one of
      those people the Church of Scientology perceives as an enemy because he is
      a vocal critic. A former Scientologist, Prince is expected to testify in
      an upcoming civil trial over the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa
      McPherson, who died while in the care of church staffers in Clearwater.

      "It isn't uncommon for one side in a lawsuit to attempt to discredit the
      testimony of the other side's witnesses. But the Church of Scientology set
      out to destroy Jesse Prince. They found a black private investigator from
      Lake Wales who could unobtrusively follow Prince, who is black, into
      minority neighborhoods. Prince's privacy was invaded by secret
      videotaping. The black private investigator, using a false name and
      identity, befriended an unsuspecting Prince and was invited into his home.
      That investigator later claimed he saw Prince smoke marijuana.

      "The Largo Police Department wasn't smart to get involved in what was
      essentially a campaign of harassment against Prince by Scientology, but at
      least it drew the line at heaping on unwarranted charges. An attorney for
      the Church of Scientology defended the practice of using private
      investigators to protect the organization from people who 'harass' it.
      Interesting. Scientology doesn't want to be criticized or harassed, but it
      doesn't hesitate to harass and intimidate others.

      "Again and again in recent years, Scientology has claimed that it has
      reformed, that it no longer engages in the kind of underhanded or illegal
      behavior and smear tactics that have earned it a sorry reputation around
      the globe. Again and again, Scientology has argued that it is a religion
      and should be treated like any other church.

      "But again and again, stories surface that set Scientology apart. Not only
      does it have a penchant for secrecy, it will spend virtually unlimited
      time and money on pursuing, setting up and bringing down its critics.

      "That's not like any church we know."

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      > Keith Henson

      Salon.com published an article and an interview with Keith Henson on May

      "Just last month, the California Superior Court in Riverside County found
      Henson guilty of violating the state's hate-crimes law. His
      demonstrations, the court ruled, interfered with Scientologists'
      constitutional right to religious freedom. David Touretzky, a Carnegie
      Mellon computer scientist and fellow Scientology gadfly, says that Henson
      tends to incriminate himself in his encounters with Scientologists - often
      providing church officials with legal ammunition they later use against

      "In a telephone interview from Canada - where he's applying for political
      asylum - Henson explained why he played hooky from the hearing and what he
      hopes to achieve by moving his case forward from abroad.

      "'I checked with Guidy Mamann, who is apparently a top immigration lawyer
      in Canada. We chatted for a while, and I filled out the paperwork. He
      fired up a Web browser, found some stories and said this was a viable
      case. So I blew off [the California court] and I've already paid [Mamann]
      a retainer to deal with this from up here.

      "'If the U.S. government decides that what I did was not within the
      framework of free speech, if the State Department supports the government
      of Riverside County in what I'm arguing is an abuse of human rights, then
      I ain't going back. By treaty and custom, the Canadian [authorities] go to
      the State Department. They have to go in and investigate, and come up with
      the transcripts and motions and all of that. They need it in order to
      defend themselves, to prove that what went on was a fair and unbiased
      problem. I suspect that when they realize that there were severe
      violations of protocol they may march through Riverside County, Calif.,
      and deal with [the church]."

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      > Norway

      Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported on May 22nd that Scientology
      plans an expansion campaign in Oslo.

      "Matthias Fosse, Scientologist on the offensive in Oslo Church of
      Scientology is back to former heights. The new-religious movements wants
      to fivefold number of members. They have been criticized for brainwashing
      and for charging sky-high prices for courses that's never ended. After
      lawsuits and a lot of bad publicity in the eighties and nineties, the
      Church of Scientology in Oslo is giving everything they got in Oslo again.

      "Books about Scientology can now be bought in kiosks in the Oslo area. The
      movement has moved into new and larger offices in the center. Lately a
      sign outside the office has announced 'We are hiring people in the Church
      of Scientology. Today there are about 150 active Scientologists in

      Aftenposten also published an article on Magne Berge, a former member of

      "He was a member of the Church of Scientology for five years and collected
      debts for 300,000 kroner. Magne Berge is now warning against the methods
      of the sect. He broke out of the movement after having been economically
      ruined on self help courses and Scientology books. After fighting for
      several years Magne Berge won in 1997 in high court. The Norwegian Church
      of Scientology had to pay 600,000 kroner in compensation in addition to
      legal cost. Berge got private loans for 300,000 kroner to pay for courses
      and books. 'I could not end one course before I had signed up for a new
      one. That went on for five years,' Berge says.

      "I was mentally broken after a divorce, I would not have joined this
      circus if not. People must be aware that if they let themselves be tricked
      by the Scientologists they will experience their soul, time and money
      depart, Berge says.

      "But he believes the Scientologists have learned after the golden age in
      the eighties and all the lawsuits thereafter. 'They probably don't dare to
      create new debt victims. They are inventive and will likely limit
      themselves to only take the money you earn.'"

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      > Protest Summary

      "Android Cat" reported a protest on May 21st.

      "In attendance, Gregg, Keith, Mike, Kaili, Zeratul, Slippery Jim and
      myself. Rather than calling the good squad, the org called the police.
      The two officers were there for 20 minutes, then their sergeant arrived.
      After a bit, he got on the phone to somebody higher up the ladder. The two
      officers came out, and we were curious to hear what shore story they'd
      been told, but they couldn't tell us. It seems that they were telling
      stories about Keith. Keith explained his situation to them. Since he
      wasn't carrying any obvious nuclear missiles or attack eagles, they saw no
      problem with a legal and peaceful picket.

      "After 40 minutes inside, the sergeant wrote out a report and stalked out
      of the org, obviously annoyed at almost 3 police hours wasted by

      Roger Gonnet reported a protest at the Lyon, France org this week.

      "Gerry Armstrong and I were picketing for some minutes at the Celeb center
      Paris, rue Legendre. Gerry had signs saying 'Scientology, let our people
      go.' The other 'Thanks God, Hubbard is dead wrong.' The 'guard' before the
      org's door asked some help and soon two girls came, one with the usual

      "The side windows were closed, and the shutters were closed too. The
      Scientology sign is ugly and unprofessional, and most probably ten years

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      > The Profit

      Patricia Greenway posted an update on The Profit, a new film that has
      attracted the attention of Scientology.

      "On Monday night, the French TV network TV3 ran a really interesting news
      piece on its nationwide news program on our full length feature film, The
      Profit. They showed clips from the film, an interview with Peter
      Alexander, the Director, and myself. They also showed clips from an ABC
      news piece that covered Mary DeMoss and her gang of FaRTs following the
      film crew during shooting. They interviewed the hotel concierge who
      handed the shipment of trailers over to the 'fake Peter' and also showed
      some nice footage of Peter and I moving around the Cannes Film Festival.

      "The Profit had its world premiere screening during the Cannes Film Fest
      in Le Palais on Friday, May 11th and a second screening on May 14th and
      prior to the theft was covered by France's largest newspaper Le Figaro,
      national radio (Europa 1) and a couple of other entertainment magazines.
      After the theft, Peter was interviewed on Radio Monte Carlo and spoke
      extensively about the theft and the 'peter-clone' that the real Peter saw
      hanging around our hotel lobby."

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      > Reed Slatkin

      The Los Angeles Times reported on May 21st that investors in Reed
      Slatkin's investment fund are unlikely to get back much of their money.

      "Investors who gave money to fallen investment manager Reed E. Slatkin
      already are looking for ways to recoup their expected losses through
      lawsuits - but they're finding few obvious targets, investor attorneys
      said. Among the possibilities: a handful of banks that acted as custodians
      for individual retirement account and 401(k) funds invested by Slatkin;
      financial professionals who introduced clients to Slatkin, who wasn't
      registered as an investment advisor; and even fellow investors who
      received principal and interest payments from Slatkin in recent years.

      "Among his more than 500 clients nationwide were Internet executives,
      Hollywood celebrities, socialites and fellow Scientologists. The SEC,
      which won a court order freezing Slatkin's assets May 11, said it has been
      unable to locate the Swiss bank accounts Slatkin said he used to trade
      stocks, or the financial advisory firm Slatkin said he used to facilitate
      the trades.

      "Those who recommended Slatkin to others could be targeted for lawsuits as
      well. Many investors who gave money to Slatkin said in interviews that
      they met him through mutual friends who bragged about the returns Slatkin
      was making for them. Some investor attorneys say it's possible that those
      later investors will sue the earlier investors, arguing the earlier
      investors duped them. 'Everybody's going to turn against each other,'
      predicted one investor attorney, who also asked to remain anonymous."

      From US News & World Report's May 28th issue:

      "Reed Slatkin, a founder of the Internet provider service EarthLink,
      managed money for over 500 clients, including CNN's legal anchor Greta Van
      Susteren and her husband, tobacco litigator John Coale. He invested for
      Armyan Bernstein, the producer of Air Force One, and the actors Giovanni
      Ribisi of Boiler Room and Jeffrey Tambor, last seen in How the Grinch
      Stole Christmas. Even the CEO of EarthLink, Sky Dayton, put his faith in
      his former partner.

      "But the Internet moguls and Hollywood celebrities who had once earned 25
      percent returns from Slatkin's financial savvy are now losing hope of
      recovering up to $600 million they collectively entrusted to a man who was
      an ordained minister in the Church of Scientology but not a registered
      investment adviser. He met many of his investors through the Church of
      Scientology, a controversial sect based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard.
      He told the SEC he felt indebted to the church for helping him overcome
      the death of his father and wanted to aid fellow congregants by making
      money for them.

      "By late 1999, Slatkin's friendly enterprise attracted the attention of
      the SEC. They believe now that his business was essentially a Ponzi, a
      swindle in which money from new investors is used to pay returns to
      earlier ones. In a deposition, Slatkin assured regulators that his
      clients' money was safely ensconced at NAA Financial in Zurich and the
      Union Bank of Switzerland. But the SEC learned that NAA Financial didn't
      have offices at the address on its letterhead and that the account in
      Switzerland did not exist.

      "On Jan. 7, 2000, Slatkin admitted to clients that he was under
      investigation and told them he was liquidating their accounts. 'For many
      years, as an outgrowth of my church-related efforts, I have sought to
      assist my friends in enhancing their financial security,' he wrote to
      clients. 'but it has grown to involve far more time and responsibility
      than I had anticipated.'"

      The FBI obtained a warrant and searched Slatkin's home for evidence in the
      ongoing fraud investigation. From the Los Angeles Times on May 26th:

      "The search at Slatkin's Hope Ranch estate came two weeks after FBI and
      Internal Revenue Service agents raided Slatkin's offices in Goleta and
      Santa Fe, N.M., hauling away boxes of documents and computers. Meanwhile,
      court-appointed bankruptcy trustee R. Todd Neilson said he will soon begin
      sorting through more than 100 boxes of documents Slatkin turned over as
      part of his bankruptcy proceedings. Neilson said he also will have access
      to documents and computer hard drives seized by government regulators."

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