- Mark Rathbun: The Juggernaut (May 28, 2013)
- Mark Rathbun: on mounting the offensive against Flynn and FAMCO (May 28, 2013)
- Lowell Sun: Charges of scheme to bilk church of $2M take new twist (August 22, 1986)
- The Boston Phoenix: What’s the scam? (June 3, 1986)
- Declaration of Gerald Armstrong (April 9, 1986)
- Declaration of Michael J. Flynn (July, 1985)
- Christofferson: Excerpt of Proceedings (April 10, 1985)
- Christofferson: Excerpt of Proceedings (April 4, 1985)
- Letter from Robert Potters to Al Tamimi (March 6, 1985)
- The Boston Herald: Advertisement (ca. March 1, 1985)
- Postcard from Al Tamimi to Michael Flynn (February 18, 1985)
- Scientology’s transcript: Illegal video (November 7, 1984)
- Freedom Issue 62 (October 1984)
- FBI File #336: Letter from John D. Stanard to FBI (September 12, 1984)
- Clearwater Sun: Sect’s charges insult intelligence of public (August 4, 1984)
- Affidavit of Michael Flynn (August 10, 1984)
- Clearwater Sun: Sect points accusing finger at critic Flynn (August 2, 1984)
- The Tampa Tribune: Scientology leader renews fight over forged check (August 2, 1984)
- Declaration of John G. Peterson In Opposition To Motion For Attorney’s Fees (July 30, 1984)
- Letter from David Aden to Boston Herald (July 26, 1984)
- Clearwater Sun: Sect says Flynn involved with phony check (July 25, 1984)
- OSA Press Release (July 24, 1984)
- Letter from Richard A. Stilz to Michael Flynn (July 24, 1984)
- Los Angeles Times: Scientologists Blame Mystery Forgery Try on Lawyer-Critic (July 24, 1984)
- Declaration of Akil Abdul Amir Al Fadili Al Tamimi (May 5, 1984)
- Declaration of Ala Fadili Al Tamimi (May 5, 1984)
- Clearwater Sun: Lawyer sees smear campaign, slams sect (January 29, 1984)
- The Patriot Ledger: L.A. sleuth reports ‘hot leads’ from ads on bogus $2M check (January 28, 1984)
- The Boston Globe: Scientology Ad “$100,000 Reward” (January 23, 1984)
- Freedom Issue 61 (1984)
- El Universal (August 29, 1982)
Juggernaut: in colloquial English usage is a literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable. – Wikipedia
For all of his alleged faults, L. Ron Hubbard was a keen observer and writer on the human condition. He once noted that “the bank follows the line of attack.” “Bank” is Scientologese for the reactive mind, the stimulus-response portion of the mind that seeks destruction of others for survival of self. With the devastating strike upon Ron and Scientology delivered in Los Angeles, all roads to L. Ron Hubbard’s bunker led through Flynn and Armstrong. It seemed that anyone with a score to settle was drawn like a magnet to the duo. Those combined forces took on the appearance of an overwhelming juggernaut.
The DOJ duplicated Flynn’s latest legal tactic: ask courts in Scientology litigation to order the church to produce L. Ron Hubbard as the “managing agent” of the mother church. Flynn assisted the DOJ to procure sworn declarations from his growing stable of former high-level official witnesses in support of the move.
David Mayo, the expelled former auditor to L. Ron Hubbard and erstwhile top technical authority in Scientology, had created a thriving Scientology splinter operation in Santa Barbara, California. Former high-level messengers – including two former Commanding Officers of CMO Int (Commodore’s Messenger Organization International) served as executives of his operation. Until the Armstrong affair, they had steered clear of the L. Ron Hubbard-bashing Flynn/ FAMCO circles. But by 1984 they were supplying declarations to the DOJ and Flynn in support of their motions to compel Hubbard into depositions in lawsuits across the country.
Breckenridge’s Armstrong case decision, bolstered by a dozen declarations by former Hubbard messengers and aides, made the allegation of Hubbard’s “managing agent” status virtually uncontestable. Miscavige and Broeker were clearly established as the last links to Hubbard, but they could not provide countering declarations because it would subject them to depositions – which would lead Hubbard’s enemies directly to him.
Worse, the Breckenridge decision destroyed any chance of winning, in courts across the U.S., our vast array of pending motions to dismiss Flynn’s lawsuits on the basis of First Amendment rights to freedom of religion. The twenty-one-page Breckenridge indictment was devastating to our three years of expensive efforts at positioning much of the Flynn litigation for pre-trial dismissal.
Worse still, the decision pumped new life into what we thought by then to be criminal investigations losing steam. The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) had been actively investigating the church, as well as LRH, Pat and Ann Broeker, David Miscavige and other church officials as named targets for criminal charges. Until the Breckenridge decision we had kept the CID somewhat at bay through litigation combatting their summons power, and a team of lawyers attempting to negotiate with IRS counsel and DOJ officials. But our intelligence lines were reporting that the LA-based CID group was once again gearing up to indict Hubbard and his aides.
The Ontario Provincial Police had, after their March, 1983 raid, steered clear of targeting Hubbard. Now they were reconsidering, in light of the outcome of the Armstrong case.
Our intelligence network reported that Gerry Armstrong was feeling drunk with power, given the sudden attention he’d received and his new importance in the anti-Scientology community. It seemed Armstrong and Flynn had worked their way up to being the axle to which all anti-Scientology spokes were linked. Per reports, Armstrong was talking of bringing all Scientology’s enemies together in a concerted effort to take over the church. The man who had prevailed in his case because of his alleged “fear for his life” was beating his chest and promising to take the very life of our church, and convert all its assets to outside control.
Our only shot at staving off indictments against LRH across North America, and of keeping him out of the couple of dozen pending lawsuits was to take out the axle and so depower its spokes. It was this desperate state of affairs that drew me directly into the shadowy world of intelligence. Throughout his litigation Armstrong had remained in periodic communication with a Scientologist who knew a thing or two about intelligence. Dan Sherman had published a number of spy novels, and had struck up an acquaintance with Armstrong. Armstrong looked up to Sherman and envied his literary success and intelligence acumen. Armstrong believed that Sherman – like so many other Scientologists during the tumultuous early eighties – was disaffected with the church and no longer considered himself a member. In fact, Sherman was cultivating a friendship with Armstrong in order to glean intelligence from him about the enemy camp. Up through the trial their communications were infrequent and mundane. All that changed when Armstrong became an overnight anti-Scientology sensation. Because of Armstrong’s newly won stardom, Sherman began giving him more face time. Armstrong began sharing some of the details of his activities as a coordination point for all camps inimical to the church, from the Ontario Provincial Police, to the IRS CID, to the DOJ, to the Mayo splinter movement. Armstrong asked Sherman to see whether he could locate some church insiders who might aid in a take-over coup inside the church.
Gene Ingram and I concocted a rather elaborate game plan. Gene would tap one of his old LAPD comrades to obtain written permission to covertly video record conversations with Gerry Armstrong. Technically, it was a lawfully given permission since we had a witness attesting that Armstrong was suggesting taking over and destroying the church by questionable means.
Gene obtained a recreational vehicle which had a wide rear window with reflective coating, making it one-way vision. A high-powered camera could record what was going on outside without being seen. We planned to record meetings with Armstrong to obtain evidence showing that not only was he not afraid for his life, he in fact was a well-backed aggressor and an operative of government agencies out to get Scientology. After taking circuitous routes to lose any possible tails, Sherman and I met Ingram in the RV in Long Beach. We worked out every detail of Sherman’s cover. We would bring in a former GO operative and have Sherman introduce him to Armstrong as a church insider, plotting the overthrow of the Miscavige regime and willing to play ball with Armstrong, Flynn and their government allies. That would hopefully prompt Armstrong to repeat and elaborate on some of the provocative takeover and take-down ideas he had alluded to in earlier conversations.
The chosen venue for the meetings was Griffith Park, inside LAPD jurisdiction and with plenty of opportunities for positioning the RV to capture the action. Sherman met with Armstrong and whetted his appetite. He told him he had made contact with an ally who had a number of well-placed contacts, currently on staff in the church. He told Armstrong he could only be identified by his first name, Joey, for security purposes. Joey was formerly of the Guardian’s Office and was connected to a number of former GO people who were bitter about being ousted by Miscavige, and sympathetic to Armstrong and the Mayo splinter movement. Armstrong was visibly overjoyed at this opportunity gratuitously falling into his lap.
Sherman arranged a meeting between Armstrong and Joey to take place on a park bench in Griffith Park. Joey wore an audio wire which transmitted the conversation back to the RV, parked a hundred yards away and video recording the event. Armstrong and Joey both wore sunglasses; both attempted to look as nonchalant as could be, as they introduced themselves.
Joey explained that there was serious disaffection within the church, and a forming cabal of veteran staff ready to take out Miscavige and the current management. He called this cell the Loyalists. Armstrong was clearly excited, and believed Joey’s cover – no doubt because of Sherman’s story-telling skills and credibility with Armstrong.
Armstrong shared with Joey the master plan, which he represented as his brainchild, along with Michael Flynn. He explained that the plan was backed by the Ontario Provincial Police, the DOJ and the IRS. Flynn would prepare a lawsuit on behalf of the Loyalists, asking the Attorney General of California to take the church into receivership on their behalf. The DOJ, FBI, and IRS would conduct a raid on church premises to get fresh evidence of illegalities, in support of the Loyalist action. The raid would be coordinated to coincide with the filing of the receivership action. The public relations fallout and the possible arrests of leaders would all but cripple the church.
Joey played his role well, feigning fear and nervousness that Armstrong could make good on the government back-up. In order to prove his representations, Armstrong opened a notebook and started naming his government contacts, representing that each was briefed, coordinated and ready to roll with the plan. He cited the following agents as close personal friends and in constant contact and coordination with him and with Flynn:
Al Ristuccia – Los Angeles office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division
Al Lipkin – Los Angeles office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division
Richard Greenberg – U.S. Department of Justice, lead counsel in defending civil litigation brought by the church against DOJ, FBI and IRS
Tom Doughty – DOJ associate of Greenberg
Al Ciampini – Ontario Provincial Police
Armstrong provided Joey with phone numbers for each, including home numbers for some – and urged Joey to get in touch with his team members from these agencies.
Over time, Armstrong told Joey that the IRS CID was the most active government participant, and served as the main coordination point between agencies. He told Joey the CID agents had been briefed about Joey and the Loyalists, and were excited and supportive. The CID would grant them informant status, offer immunity for any crimes they might commit in assisting the government, and had even talked of providing safe houses for insiders. Armstrong then asked Joey to get his contacts to go into church files and find evidence of illegalities, so that the IRS and DOJ would know where to search. Joey then brought into the mix someone whom Gerry had known from his Sea Org days. Mike Rinder was a Commodore’s Messenger who had once worked directly with Ron. He was then heading up the U.S. branch of the Office of Special Affairs. Joey introduced Mike to Gerry. Mike reported to Gerry that the files were relatively clean – there were no big smoking-gun documents being created after the 1977 FBI raids. At this point Armstrong’s macho bravado provided what would be our greatest defense against the indictments being issued against Hubbard, Miscavige, et al. Armstrong suggested that the Loyalists create evidence of illegalities and plant them in church files for the IRS and DOJ to find in a raid, and use against church officials.
All of Armstrong’s representations about government conspiracies to take down church leadership and close down the operation were duly recorded.
David Miscavige was ecstatic with the results. He had me make a presentation of the evidence to a team of criminal lawyers, assembled to represent L. Ron Hubbard, Miscavige, Pat Broker and Lyman Spurlock (Hubbard’s accountant at ASI) to prevent IRS CID indictments and convictions – the potential charges we took most seriously. These attorneys – most from white-shoe Washington, D.C. law firms – were scaring the hell out of Miscavige. They were suggesting the IRS CID case was so serious that they recommended working a deal with the IRS for Miscavige and Spurlock to do time in halfway houses, so as to prevent indictment of Hubbard. At the root of the IRS CID case was the evidence of millions of dollars of church monies being funneled to Hubbard through fraudulent means. And at the heart of the case would be the infamous MCCS taped conference in which church attorneys and staff acknowledged the fraudulent nature of the transfers.
My presentation horrified the team of criminal attorneys. They were hired because of their conservative, Reagan administration contacts. They did not want anything to do with such an aggressive investigative move. They were concerned about the propriety of the means Ingram and I had utilized to obtain the evidence, and thought it would reflect badly on their own reputations. One attorney who represented Miscavige personally took me aside, though. He said he did not know how to use it at the moment, but that the evidence I had obtained would ultimately save the day for Hubbard, Miscavige and the church. Gerald Feffer was the former Assistant Deputy Attorney General for taxation during the Carter administration. He was becoming a dean of white-collar criminal case dismissal prior to indictment. He would become a senior partner in the venerable D.C. law firm Williams & Connally. Gerry told me to work with some of our more aggressive civil counsel to figure out a way to make the information public, and he would use it to make the IRS criminal case go away.
Another disclosure from the Griffith Park meetings cut to the quick with both Miscavige and me. Armstrong had told Joey that another Department of Justice player was in on the grand plan to close down Scientology: Bracket Deniston III. Armstrong said that Deniston was not investigating to find out who attempted to pass Hubbard’s check, and he was not investigating the evidence we had provided to him. Instead Deniston was out to nail our investigator, Gene Ingram. Deniston had represented to Armstrong that he was setting traps to nail Ingram and the church for attempting to frame Flynn with purchased evidence.
This was particularly disconcerting, given events in the check investigation while all this Armstrong business was going down. After I had been ordered out of Boston by Deniston, I had been lured back in by a man being prosecuted by his office. Larry Reservitz had been charged in a case very similar to the one involving LRH’s check. One of Reservitz’s connections who had access to Bank of New England records had used his access to fraudulently transfer money from random accounts to Reservitz. While under indictment, Reservitz reached out to me for the $ 10,000 reward we had previously advertised in the New York Times, claiming he had inside information on the Hubbard case and could identify the inside man at BNE. We had a number of phone calls and several meetings attempting to negotiate the deal. The jockeying was due to my suspicion that Reservitz was shaking us down, and I was searching for facts that would indicate he knew what he was talking about. Reservitz was continually attempting to characterize my questioning as an attempt to make the deal an exchange of cash for handing us Flynn.
In the meantime, Robert Mueller, Denniston’s superior and head of the Boston U.S. DOJ office fraud division, had flown to Italy to visit Ala Tamimi. He bought Tamimi’s retraction of his original statement in exchange for dropping a number of outstanding indictments the DOJ had pending against Tamimi for a variety of fraudulent schemes he had previously executed. I attempted to confront Mueller with what we had learned, but he refused to meet with me. Deniston outright denied that any visit or deal had been carried out by Mueller. In either event, Tamimi’s retraction caused Miscavige to turn up the heat to get me to turn up fresh evidence of Flynn’s involvement in the crime.
I was caught between a rock and a hard spot. Miscavige wanted Flynn at any cost. Yet I felt that Reservitz might be attempting to frame me for attempting to frame Flynn. I walked a tight rope between pursuing the investigation to Miscavige’s required degree of aggressiveness, and not stepping over the line with Reservitz. I even visited the Boston FBI agent in charge of the Hubbard check investigation, Jim Burleigh. I pointedly accused Burleigh of having covertly made a deal with Reservitz to attempt to sting me. Burleigh brought in another FBI agent to witness his categorical denial that the FBI or DOJ had made a deal with Reservitz: “We would never cooperate with the likes of Larry Reservitz.” Deniston likewise denied that Reservitz was working for the DOJ. Still, I had my suspicions, particularly when we learned Deniston had become pals with Armstrong and Flynn.
With the sharks circling in and our waning confidence in our civil lawyers (having their heads handed to them in the Armstrong case) and criminal lawyers (advising Miscavige that he resign himself to doing time, at least in a halfway house), Miscavige ordered I find a new breed of lawyer. He wanted someone tough as nails, not some nervous Nellie. He wanted someone who could figuratively kick Flynn’s butt in court, and scare the hell out of his DOJ and IRS backers. After an exhaustive nationwide search and many candidates eliminated, I thought we had finally found our man – in, of all places, Boston.
Earle Cooley was bigger than life. He was a big, red-haired knock-off of L. Ron Hubbard himself. His gravelly voice was commanding. His wit was sharp. He was perennially listed in The Best Trial Lawyers in America. He could spin a yarn that charmed judges and juries and took easy, great pleasure in viciously destroying witnesses on cross examination. After I had interviewed Earle and reported to Miscavige, I arranged for us to watch Earle in action. Miscavige and I flew out to Boston to see Earle perform in a high-profile art theft trial. We saw him decimate a seasoned criminal government informant so thoroughly on cross examination that the fellow, in a trademark Cooley expression, “didn’t know whether to shit or wind his watch.” Earle’s client – whom the government had dead to rights, and who was as unsympathetic a defendant as could be – was acquitted by the jury. We had found the horse for the course.
Earle was like a breath of fresh air to Miscavige. He took a similar black-and-white view of matters – we are right and good, the enemy is wrong and bad. Miscavige had long since lost his patience and his tolerance for our teams of civil lawyers and the civil-rights-experienced civil-rights-experienced opinion leaders among them. He referred to them as the “pointy heads,” short for “pointy-headed intellectuals.” To him, our only problem was our counsels’ timid, second-guessing, defensive frames of mind. And Earle reinforced that view. Cooley attended a few civil litigation conferences with our other counsel. He ruffled their feathers by readily agreeing with Miscavige’s simplistic sum-up of what was wrong and the solution to it, aggression. The existing lawyers’ nervous objections and eye-rolling reactions to Earle’s sermons only reinforced Miscavige’s view. “They are nothing but a pack of pussies,” he regularly groused to me; “what we need is for Earle to sink his teeth into those Flynn witnesses and that’ll be the end of this nonsense.”
Miscavige was nothing if not resilient. While never giving a hint that the overridingly important goal was the attainment of All Clear, by late 1984 it was quite evident to all involved that we were fighting an entirely different battle now. It was a fight for survival. We were desperately staving off the barbarians storming the walls of whatever compound L. Ron Hubbard might reside behind. It was evident too that Hubbard himself might have quit fighting – we no longer received any dispatches from him about the legal front. He was only sporadically sending ASI advices concerning his personal business, and to the church about Scientology matters. Miscavige had a team feverishly marketing Hubbard’s new science fiction books, the Mission Earth series. He was putting just as much pressure on church marketing folks to market Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the broad public re-release of the 1950 book that had launched the entire movement. All titles were making it back onto the New York Times bestseller lists. So the incongruity created another level of cognitive dissonance. How could government officials across the continent be so feverishly pursuing a man who was so wildly popular with the public at large? It would be years before I would find out that the sales were given a mighty boost by teams of Scientologists sent out to bookstores to buy them in bulk. In the meantime, Miscavige was adept at keeping me and the troops motivated, inferring that we were buying Ron time to bail out the church’s disastrous public image and to complete his final researches at the highest levels of Scientology.
With Miscavige’s solving of the “why” behind our failures to attain an All Clear – i.e., the outside lawyers’ blatant counter-intention to Hubbard’s advices on using the enemies’ tactics against them, only more cleverly and more aggressively – our defeat-battered hopes were rehabilitated. Earle Cooley, the great Scientology hope, would soon be unleashed.
- Rathbun, Mark (2013-05-28). Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (pp. 255-64). ↩
- GA: I mentioned Rathbun’s Chapter 21, which he titles “The Juggernaut,” in a recent letter to Dan Sherman. http://gerryarmstrong.ca/archives/1082 The whole chapter is Rathbun’s spin on the Armstrong Op, or more specifically the 1984 Griffith Park videotaping part of the op. The operation, which was clearly concocted to use or misuse the videos for nefarious purposes after the videotaping, still continues. Rathbun’s book shows the op continues by continuing it. Even though he calls it a memoir, and recounts different events or incidents in his Scientology career that appear unrelated to the op, the whole book is his spin on it. The book is also a fantastic late act, one more contemptuous fair game nastiness in the same old sick op.
Most importantly at this time, Rathbun’s spin, and his facts propelling it, are virtually identical to the spin and facts the Miscavige Scientologists give to their description of these events in their black propaganda publications, in their filings in their legal proceedings, in their submissions to the IRS, or to governments and people around the world. The difference is that Rathbun says Miscavige ran and runs it all, and Miscavige and his corporate underlings either do not say or say the same thing. ↩
In early May, 1982 I was busily mounting the offensive against Flynn and his FAMCO scheme to bankrupt and destroy Scientology. Up to that point in time, several people had served as buffers between me and David Miscavige. All that changed one morning when Miscavige called me over to his offices at Hubbard’s newly-formed personal services corporation, Author Services Incorporated (ASI). Miscavige was the chairman of its board. As such he was recognized as the most senior and powerful person in the Scientology hierarchy. It was understood by then that all communication to or from L. Ron Hubbard went through Miscavige’s hands. I hopped into the small Japanese car that came with the job of Special Unit Litigation Director and sped over to see Miscavige. I brought Geoff Shervell with me. Geoff was my opposite number for the intelligence/ investigation function of the church. He was a short, portly fellow from New Zealand. He was handsome and friendly in looks and manner. Geoff had worked at the Guardian’s Office Worldwide in England for years. The Special Project had investigated him thoroughly and concluded that he had not engaged in any illegal acts while in the Guardian’s Office. His amiable demeanor and his training and understanding of intelligence had resulted in Miscavige tapping him to run all intelligence for the church. Up to that day Shervell had been reporting directly to Miscavige.
Miscavige seemed somberly unnerved, an attitude he rarely showed to anyone. He wore a dirty blonde mustache and glasses then. He stood about five feet, five inches, solidly built. He looked at me with piercing, intense blue eyes. “Marty, Geoff’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t have the confront for this job.” With that succinct statement, Miscavige put the intelligence function, and Geoff, under my supervision. “Does the GO have any PIs you can trust?” “I haven’t worked with any, sir.” “Well, you need to find a PI that has a pair of balls and won’t be compromised.” “Ok, I’ll get right on it.” “Look, somebody tried to pass a forged check on LRH’s account at Bank of New England. Some Arab guy named Aquil Abdul Amiar shows up at Middle East Bank in New York City with an LRH check with a forged signature. The check is from LRH’s account at BNE. BNE calls us and we tell them LRH never signed any check made out to any Arab, and no check for two million dollars to anybody . They stopped payment. We keep LRH’s check registers. There are no checks missing. We write all of LRH’s checks and submit them to him for signature. He signs them. We mail them and every one of them is accounted for. Norman can show you all that.” I looked at Norman. Norman gave a serious nod back. Miscavige continued, “We asked BNE for more particulars. BNE won’t give any. We have Sherman Lenske (LRH’s corporate and finance attorney ) call MEB and BNE and nobody will cooperate with him. BNE says they want to hear from LRH directly. We have all the proper powers of attorney on his accounts, but they won’t recognize them. They tell us the FBI is investigating. And the FBI won’t tell Sherman anything either. This whole thing smells . These fucking bankers are supposed to be working for LRH, and it looks like they are doing the work of Flynn and the FBI. You need to get a PI onto this and get to the bottom of it.” “Yes, sir.” “Okay, Norman , show him the documents we have, like the POA (power of attorney) and all. Marty, you report direct to me on this . Tell the finance people this is top priority if they give you any flack on the PIs.” “Yes, sir.” “Nobody in the GO or Special Unit or anywhere else needs to know about this, get it?” “Yes, sir.” 1
- Rathbun, Mark (2013-05-28). Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (p. 216-218). Amazon Books. Kindle Edition. ↩
Charges of scheme to bilk church of $2M take new twist1
by Raymond Howell
BOSTON — An international con artist has been charged in a scheme to bilk the controversial Church of Scientology out of $2 million, adding a new layer of intrigue to a Byzantine case that already involves a reputed organized crime figure, a disbarred lawyer and a financial swindler-turned-FBI-Informant.
Ala Fadili Al Tamimi, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in connection with the scam against L. Ron Hubbard, the late and reclusive Scientology founder. He pleaded innocent and was detained without bail.
Last May, reputed organized crime figure George T. Kattar of Methuen and disbarred attorney Harvey Brower of Swampscott were indicted on charges of offering the church false information about the scam in exchange for a $100,000 fee. Both are free on bail.
Kattar and Brower were implicated by Larry Reservitz, a disbarred Brockton lawyer, high-rolling gambler and convicted financial swindler who participated in the second alleged fraud as an informant for the FBI. He is in the federal witness protection program.
Extradited from Germany
Tamimi, 34, was indicted in the $2 million scheme last November. But at the time, he was serving a prison sentence in Germany for a fraud in that country. He was extradited last Friday.
Also indicted in the case was Tamimi’s brother, Akil Abdul Amir Al Fadili Al Tamimi. But Akil Tamimi is believed to be in the UAE, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Crossen.
A federal grand jury continues to investigate the $2 million scam. “Our belief is there are other conspirators and there is therefore an ongoing grand jury investigation,” Crossen said yesterday.
Harry L. Manion III, a church attorney and spokesman, said: “Church officials wonder why at this point Ala Tamimi’s co-conspirators have not also been indicted.
“The church will press on to expose this conspiracy wherever the web of the conspiracy may lead and to expose whoever may be caught up in it,” he said.
Ala Tamimi also faces trial on fraud charges stemming from his dealings as president of a company called First Boston Arabian Corporation in 1981.
Promised lavish loans
The company purported to find Arab shieks willing to make lavish loans at low interest rates to real estate developers and other businessmen in the U.S.
Tamimi required borrowers to pay him advance finder’s fees, but he had neither loan commitments nor funds, the government charges.
His clients included a German national named Wolfgang Jurgens, for whom Tamlmi purportedly arranged a $75 million loan.
Tamimi’s fee was $2.5 million and he allegedly demanded $870,000 in advance of the closing. Jurgens paid it in the form of 1.7 million German Deutschmarks, two Mercedes-Benzes, two BMWs, $12,000 in U.S. currency and an $8,000 Rolex watch.
Tamimi was indicted in the First Boston Arabian case in March 1983. But in June of that year, he jumped bail.
Shortly afterward, he was arrested for fraud in Sicily, according to an FBI affidavit and Tamimi’s attorney, John C. McBride of Boston.
Tamimi spent two and a half years in an Italian jail. Upon his release, he was transferred to Germany, where he was wanted for fraud and where he ended up serving nine months in jail, according to McBride.
In March 1984, while he was incarcerated abroad, Tamimi was secretly indicted for perjury in connection with statements he made in court before he jumped bail in the first Boston Arabian case.
Court documents indicate that during bail hearings in that case, Tamimi claimed to have two passports — one from Jordan and another from the U.S. Both were eventually turned over to authorities.
But it was later learned that he possessed two other U.S. passports and used one of them in Italy, according to an FBI affidavit.
Tamimi cannot be tried on the perjury indictment, however, because the extradition agreement with Germany does not include that charge, said Crossen.
The German government was “disinclined to extradite hint based on the perjury indictment,” the prosecutor said.
It was also during his incarceration abroad that Tamimi was secretly indicted in the Scientology scheme.
The two-count indictment, returned Nov. 22, 1985, accuses Tamimi and his brother of conspiracy and interstate transportation of conterfeit checks.
It alleges that in May 1982, they obtained a $2 million forged check drawn on an account of Hubbard and a $500,000 counterfeit check drawn on an account of a company called Indian River Foods Inc. Both accounts were at the Bank of New England in Boston.
The indictment further alleges that in June 1982, they transported the checks from Massachusetts to New York and attempted to deposit them in the Middle East Bank Ltd., where Akil Tamimi had opened an account under the alias of Aquii Abdulamiar.
Suspecting that something was wrong, bank officials raised questions about the check and did not cash it.
Attorney McBride said yesterday: “We’re going the whole route. The government can’t prove its case.”
Referring to the fact that the check was never cashed, he said: “The church was never defrauded out of any money. Mr. Hubbard never lost any money.”
Although Tamimi had not been formally charged in the Hubbard check case until Tuesday, he has been linked to it as far back as 1984.
At that time, a private investigator hired by the church, Eugene Ingram, visited Tamimi in jail in Italy and brought back an affidavit in which Tamimi implicated himself and Boxford attorney Michael Flynn. The affidavit was turned over to the FBI and has been cited in civil litigation involving the church.
Flynn, who has been battling the church for years in numerous civil suits, has vigorously denied any involvement in the scam, denied knowing Tamimi and accused Scientology officials or trying to smear him.
Flynn was out of town and unavailable for comment yesterday, but an associate, Mike Tabb, said Tamimi has since sent telegrams to Flynn stating that the portion of the affidavit about Flynn is untrue.
Tabb also claimed that Ingram has been investigated by a grand jury for possibly having “procurred perjury” from Tamimi.
“From our investigation, it appears that Mr. Tamimi was involved in the Hubbard check, but Mike Flynn had no involvement in that,” Tabb added. “…The government has never indicated that Michael Flynn is a target of a grand jury investigation or that he is seriously considered a suspect.”
McBride, when asked about his client’s affidavit, said Tamimi has since disavowed it. He also claimed that the Justice Department has “publicly” rejected the “credibility” of the affidavit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Crossen said the government has not made any public declarations about the credibility of the affidavit. But he refused to comment further on it.
The names of Flynn and Tamimi have begun to surface in court documents filed in the case of Kattar and Brower, who allegedly schemed to bilk the church in 1984.
In two handwriting exemplars filed by Kattar’s attorney, Michael Avery, during discovery proceedings, Kattar mentions Flynn and Tamimi as having been involved in the original check scheme.
The handwriting exemplars were requested by a grand jury in January 1988, along with photographs and fingerprints of Kattar, Avery said in an affidavit. Presumably, they were requested so they could be compared to identically worded notes already in the grand jury’s possession.
Noting that Kattar and Brower have been accused of fabricating a story about the $2 million scam, Tabb claimed the notes represented “the false story that Kattar told.”
Tabb also pointed to an FBI affidavit which quotes certain conversations involving Kattar and Brower. In the narrative, the affidavit says: “In essence, they decided to falsely accuse several persons of complicity in the check offense, including a Boston lawyer (Michael Flynn).”
Neither Assistant U.S. Attorney Crossen nor Avery, Kattar’s attorney, would comment on the handwriting exemplars.
- Retrieved September 24, 2014 from http://www.xenu-directory.net/news/library-item.php?iid=3133 ↩
What’s the scam?1
by Jim Schuh
This article originally appeared in the June 3, 1986 issue of the Boston Phoenix
Back on the morning of June 7, 1982, a man walked into the New York branch of the Middle East Bank on the 25th floor of a Madison Avenue office building and tried to deposit a $2 million check. The man, a native of the United Arab Emirates, left without completing the transaction.
The check, written on an E.F. Hutton money-market account handled by the Bank of New England, was a forgery. Although attempted bank fraud of that ilk is not particularly unusual, this particular incident triggered a complex, bizarre and, at times, vicious battle that shows no sign of abating nearly four years later.
The forged check had been written on the account of L. Ron Hubbard, reclusive founder of the Church of Scientology, who died last January. No one has ever been charged publicly with that attempted fraud, which Scientologists have come to regard as the most brazen of assaults on their religion and church. Some Scientologists believe that Boston lawyer Michael J. Flynn — who has made something of a career out of suing the Church of Scientology — was behind the scam.
Flynn vehemently denies any involvement with the bogus Hubbard check. And indeed, the accusation has always seemed preposterous. For even if the Hubbard check had been successfully deposited, it is far more likely that the Bank of New England (or, to be more precise, the bank’s insurance company), and not L. Ron Hubbard, would have lost the money.
To gather evidence in the case, Scientologists offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the conviction of those who had tried to pass the bogus Hubbard check. And that reward offer produced results, though not necessarily what the Scientologists wanted. Among those who got portions of the reward were a con artist known as the Prince of Fraud, another man reputed to be an organized-crime figure, and a third character, who has since admitted involvement in the check scam — Larry Joseph Reservitz.
Larry Reservitz is a former lawyer who was disbarred for bilking insurance companies on bogus car accidents and for cheating a client out of a fee. He then moved on to other vocations: forger, cardshark, Las Vegas gambler, friend to politicians and professional athletes, black-marketer, international fugitive, and, in his latest incarnation, a protected government witness.
Reservitz is at the fulcrum of a complex tale of intrigue that has only begun to unfold in federal court. Much remains unknown, though it is clear that Scientologists, the FBI, reputed organized-crime figures, and private investigators have all engaged in some labyrinthine scheming. But in many ways it is unclear who is the victim and who is the culprit; who is the con man and who is the conned; who is investigating whom, for what crimes, and — finally — why.
The Scientologists have claimed in court documents that one man involved in the scheme was Ala Fadili Al Tamimi, a native of the United Arab Emirates, who blazed an unparalleled trail of fraud across Massachusetts before jumping bail, according to charges still pending against him. Scientologists say that they gave him $25,000 for writing an affidavit — a move which is technically legal, if risky — in which he claimed he had helped mastermind the bogus check scheme along with Flynn. When the Boston Globe, in July 1984, wrote about those allegations, Larry Reservitz got a laugh at the Scientologists’ pursuit of Flynn, who, Reservitz said, had nothing to do with the check. Michael Flynn didn’t laugh. He sued the Globe for libel, a case that is still pending.
(A federal grand jury, however, does not doubt that Tamimi had some involvement with the bogus Hubbard check. Indeed, court records in Germany, where he is being held, indicate that Tamimi was secretly indicted in Boston last November for attempting, along with his brother, to pass two bogus checks at the Madison Avenue Middle East Bank between April and June of 1982. The indictment remains sealed, apparently pending Tamimi’s extradition to this country on old fraud charges unrelated to this case. Tamimi recently was extradited from a prison in Italy to a prison in Germany, as he makes the rounds of atonement for a career of fraud.)
The latest chapter in the bogus-check case was made public last week: reputed organized-crime figure George T. Kattar, 67, of Methuen, and defrocked lawyer Harvey Brower, 49, of Swampscott, were indicted last week on fraud and extortion charges. The grand jury claims that Brower and Kattar offered to provide information to Scientologists about the bogus Hubbard check for $100,000. Brower and Kattar allegedly bilked the Scientologists out of an initial down payment of $33,333, using “threatened force, violence and fear.” The indictment says Brower and Kattar gave Scientologists inaccurate information about the check, but the indictment doesn’t detail the nature of that information.
Scientologists say that they were threatened in their dealings with Kattar and Brower. And Earle C. Cooley, a lawyer for the Scientologists, says that they were bilked in that they did not receive the documentation and witnesses they had been promised. But Cooley says he remains unconvinced that the information Scientologists did receive — which implicated Flynn — was inaccurate. “The church is satisfied that there is a complex breadth of obstruction and conspiracy involved in this entire affair,” says Boston lawyer Harry L. Manion III, who, along with Cooley, represents the church. “This indictment represents the outer skin if a very strong-smelling onion. The church will continue to peel the onion until its core is fully exposed.”
The Scientologists have become increasingly bitter over what they perceive as the federal government’s failure to aggressively investigate the bogus Hubbard check and the Kattar-Brower matter. They have taken out advertisements in newspapers offering a $75,000 reward for information about “complicity and/or obstruction of justice” by four federal prosecutors, three FBI agents, and two private lawyers. The indictment against Kattar and Brower was brought in part because a Scientologist, Geoffrey Shervell, secretly tape-recorded – at the behest of the FBI – his negotiations for their information, according to those familiar with the case. But part of the government’s case will be to prove that the information that Brower and Kattar allegedly supplied was phony. And given that Larry Reservitz claims, on tapes he made for the government, that he was involved in the check scheme, it seems likely he will take the witness stand for the prosecution to repeat that assertion, thereby undermining any contention Kattar and Brower might make that Flynn did indeed mastermind the Hubbard check.
Reservitz secretly tape-recorded his conversations with Kattar, a federal prosecutor has said in court during another case in which Reservitz is a government witness. It is unclear whether those conversations pertain to the Hubbard-check case or to yet another matter, for which the prosecutor said Kattar was under investigation — allegedly plotting to cash another bogus Bank of England check, this one from a Florida millionaire, for $12 million.
(Where the Kattar case may lead boggles the mind. The Wall Street Journal reported last Tuesday that ultra-conservative politician Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. approved a $100,000 payoff to Kattar in 1980 to get LaRouche votes in the 1980 Democratic presidential primary. Kattar has reportedly confirmed helping LaRouche but has denied receiving the money. Brower, Kattar’s purported accomplice, was once a talented defense lawyer. He was disbarred for counseling a client to jump bail. Later, Brower, a drummer, formed a musical group called Harvey and the Bail Jumpers.)
Indeed, there are many Reservitz tapes. He spent nearly five months in late 1984 gathering evidence for the government, as part of his plea bargain, tape recording his telephone calls and sticking a tape recorder down his boot for documenting face-to-face meetings, according to court testimony. Reservitz and an odd assortment of characters star in more than 100 separate tapes, according to an FBI agent.
Many of those tapes have yet to become public, and some perhaps never will. Among them, according to those familiar with the case, is a tape Reservitz made for the FBI when he met in a law office with two Scientologists investigating the phony check written on the Hubbard account. During the session Reservitz reportedly received $12,500 in reward money from the Scientologists for information he provided them. Some people familiar with the case believe that Reservitz was sent into that meeting to gather evidence against Scientologists for obstruction-of-justice charges in their attempt to implicate Flynn in the bogus Hubbard check.
A witting attempt to provide fraudulent evidence to convince federal prosecutors to indict an innocent man – if that’s what occurred – would clearly be an obstruction of justice. “I do not believe anybody from the church will be indicted because that would be an obscenity,” says Cooley. “The church has pursued this investigation in good faith.”
International intrigue presumably is foreign to the Scientologists. But for Larry Reservitz, it is the habit of a lifetime.
The son of a lawyer, Reservitz grew up in Brockton and went to a private school in New Hampshire, graduating in 1959. He was an honor-roll student; he worked on the school newspaper and his class yearbook. Reservitz was athletic; he was a member of the varsity football and track teams and the junior-varsity basketball team. He was a proctor and a member of the dramatics club. His quote in the year book was an enigmatic “Eeee-yes.”
Reservitz went on to Tufts, where he majored in economics. During a recent appearance as a prosecution witness in a federal fraud case, Reservitz said he had departed Tufts because of “very poor grades.”
According to his own testimony, Reservitz switched to Suffolk University. For the six summers of his college career, he worked in his father’s law practice. Reservitz recently explained the work that he had done for his father: “Basically carry a briefcase, follow him around, and try to learn some things.”
While in college, Reservitz was heavily involved in high-stakes card games, according to a former classmate. Reservitz also boasted about his friendships with professional athletes, including players on the Red Sox and the Celtics. In 1967, Reservitz passed the bar and joined his father’s law firm, pursuing his career with, as one acquaintance recalls, “vim and vigor.”
But within a year Reservitz’s father died of a heart attack. And Larry – with vim and vigor, if not judiciousness – embarked on a career in crime. He started concocting phony car crashes and bilking insurance companies for damages, according to his own testimony. The motivation, Reservitz acknowledges, was “probably greed.”
“It was part of a large deal,” Reservitz testified. “They were set up accidents. It wasn’t that there was a legitimate client. The majority of these accidents were phony accidents, they were staged …Where there was a legitimate accident, if there were two people in the car, for example, by the time the case got ready for settlement it would have been four people in the car.”
Among Reservitz’s partners in crime was a man named Elias Kenaan of Braintree. Kenaan’s wife, Eileen, is the daughter of Ilario “Larry Baione” Zannino, now the reputed head of the Boston Mafia. Reservitz testified that he had probably filed more than 20 phony insurance claims during an 18-month period. The scheme had come to an abrupt halt when Reservitz read in a newspaper that a grand jury in Plymouth had been convened to indict an unnamed lawyer for filing false claims.
In early 1970, Reservitz, his wife, and their baby fled to Europe. Shortly before he left, he received a $650 fee to represent a Stoughton man charged with selling LSD to a state policeman. Reservitz never represented the man but did not return the fee. Reservitz said he’d hoped the move to Europe would bolster his faltering marriage. After landing in Geneva, Reservitz and his family moved to the Spanish island of Palma de Mallorca, about 120 miles off Barcelona. He invested in a nightclub and ran a small clothing store. Reservitz and his wife had another child. But one day Reservitz returned home to find his family had vanished.
A few months later, more trouble struck. A member of the Spanish secret police, whom Reservitz had befriended, told him that he was about to be arrested and extradited. While he was in Spain, Reservitz had been indicted in Plymouth County on more than a dozen charges of bilking from insurance companies, in bogus claims that exceeded $50,000.
Reservitz quickly sold off his interests in the clothing store and the nightclub at a loss and flew to Marseilles and then to Genoa. From there, he took a boat to Israel – “because I’d never been there before and I wanted to see it.” He settled in a suburb of Haifa for several months, living off his savings and selling money on the black market.
During his travels, Reservitz met his future second wife, a Scottish woman named Antoinette. When they tired of life in Israel – hampered by their inability to speak Hebrew and Reservitz’s failure to find work – they moved briefly to Edinburgh, where Antoinette’s parents lived. Reservitz also spent time in London, frequently gambling in high stakes games at a club called the White House, a college classmate told the Phoenix. Scotland Yard became interested in him in part because his passport showed him frequently traveling between Rome and Britain. British police checked with investigators in Italy, who informed them that Reservitz was traveling with Antoinette, and that he was expected to visit her family in Edinburgh for the holidays.
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard learned that Reservitz was wanted back in the States for the insurance fraud. On New Year’s Eve, 1971, Reservitz was arrested at the home of Antoinette’s family. He was transferred to Pentonville prison in North London, a grim, forbidding structure built in the 1700’s. Reservitz was to stay there for the next four months.
He was held in solitary confinement in an eight-foot-by-five-foot cell, with one small overhead light, a window about one square foot, and a solid-steel door with a peephole for guards to observe prisoners. There was no sink or toilet, just a plastic pail that was emptied once a day. He was released from the cell for a half-hour every day. Showers were allowed on Sundays. The mattress was straw, and Reservitz had one worn blanket. He had no radio. A two-month-long power outage meant that Reservitz sat in darkness for half his stay. “That is a very, very old prison,” Reservitz testified. “It’s exceptionally unpleasant.” While he was incarcerated, he was notified that his first wife had filed for divorce.
A Massachusetts assistant attorney general eventually went to London and obtained Reservitz’s extradition. Reservitz was released on bail after arriving in Brockton. While awaiting trial, Reservitz and Antoinette moved to an apartment in Brookline and started a women’s-clothing business – with Reservitz’s mother providing some of the seed capital. After a year out on bail, Reservitz pleaded guilty to two larceny charges and was sentenced to 18 months in the Plymouth County jail.
Despite his legal problems, Reservitz apparently remained quite solvent. He and Antoinette bought a large brick house in Brookline for $72,000, where he installed a pool. While Reservitz was in jail, Antoinette ran the clothing business. When he was released in 1974, he appears to have gone straight – for awhile. He merged the dress business into a retail clothing firm, which operated a store called Feathers, on Boylston Street in Back Bay. Reservitz opened branches in Quincy, Brookline, Newton, and in several Gilchrist department stores. But the Gilchrist chain went into bankruptcy, taking the Feathers chain with it, Reservitz testified. “They forced me into bankruptcy because I had so many goods left over that weren’t sold. There was nothing I could do. I owed money to so many people. And actually before we went into bankruptcy the business was insolvent.” When Feathers folded in November 1976, it went down hard – owing taxes to the federal government and money to 99 creditors and 10 employees.
Without Feathers, Reservitz returned to an old skill to pay the bills: he gambled, playing cards and placing bets on sports events. In the late 1970s federal investigators charged Reservitz with possession of counterfeit money, but a magistrate dropped the charges because federal agents were unable to prove Reservitz knew the money was bogus.
Around 1980 Reservitz appears to have developed a source of information inside the Bank of New England. Reservitz says he then became involved in six or seven major frauds using bogus checks, some of which were, at least initially, quite successful. But two of those schemes eventually went sour and contributed mightily to the downfall of Larry Reservitz.
Reservitz testified he had worked with a man named Irwin Swartz to carry out those scams. Using fraudulent paperwork, they had arranged for a financial investment concern to transmit $2 million to the account of a Chicago jeweler in 1980. After the money transfer had occurred, Swartz, purporting to represent the financial concern, picked up $2 million worth of jewels for the jeweler. It was a scheme that netted Reservitz more than $100,000. But three weeks later, Swartz was arrested in Montreal while making a pick-up at a coin shop in a similar scam. Swartz was convicted of fraud and sentenced to a decade in prison. Despite pressure from investigators, Swartz initially refused to name Reservitz as the mastermind of the scams, because Reservitz was paying him to remain silent. But Swartz eventually cut a deal, and Reservitz was indicted on a variety of charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
At about the same time, Reservitz erred again. He attempted to buy a truckload of marijuana form undercover agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration. That cost him a three-year sentence.
Swartz was partly through his testimony in the fraud case when Reservitz cut his own deal. He pleaded guilty on July 13, 1984, to five charges and secretly agreed to cooperate in criminal investigations for the federal government. Reservitz immediately informed investigators of another scheme that he was already helping orchestrate: an attempt to pass a bogus $12 million check from an account at the Bank of New England. The participants, Reservitz said, were Jack W. McNatt, 39, of Boxford, a departmental-systems manager in the corporate-agency department at the bank, and Arcangelo “Bochie” DiFronzo, 49, a Somerville man who was then co-owner of New England Mail Services Group. They were convicted this April following a trial at which Reservitz and his tapes were the star witnesses.
While Reservitz was gathering evidence for his new friends at the FBI, he had supported himself by gambling, he testified. He bet on sporting events, and he played gin with the fellows over at the swank Cavendish Club, in Brookline, where his gregarious personality made him a favorite.
It was while Reservitz was wearing a hidden tape recorder for the McNatt-DiFronzo investigation that he revealed his involvement in the Hubbard-check scheme. According to transcripts, Reservitz, sipping black Sanka in a Cambridge restaurant, chuckled as he told DiFronzo that Scientologists thought Flynn was behind the check scam. “They think that I’m part of a conspiracy to defraud the church, that I’m tied up with Michael Flynn [and other Flynn associates] . . . I’ve never heard of these people. I wouldn’t know these people if they stood up in front of me.”
And in another meeting that he tape-recorded with DiFronzo, Reservitz explained that the Hubbard-check scheme had failed because Hubbard himself had written a check to pay taxes at about the same time, thus drawing down his balance. Recalled Reservitz, “Do you understand that L. Ron Hubbard wrote out a tax check, the guy whose check it was happened to write out a tax check at the same time and take money out of the fuckin’ account?” Scientologists say that though Hubbard had recently paid his taxes when the bogus check was presented in New York, there was enough money in the account to cover the check.
It was within hours of completing his street work for the McNatt-DiFronzo case that FBI agents whisked Reservitz off to prison on December 6, 1984. The two-year sentence he eventually received on the check frauds was eventually consolidated with that from the marijuana case, and both were cut to 18 months. Reservitz served 13 months in prison and then returned to the streets.
Reservitz, his wife, and two children were relocated at government expense and given a new identity through the witness-protection program. There is an unconfirmed report that he was in a crowd at a recent Las Vegas fight featuring another Brockton man and Reservitz acquaintance, middle-weight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
As FBI agent Dennis Carney testified at the recent McNatt-DiFronzo trial, the saga of 44-year-old Larry Reservitz may be far from over. “He’s free to engage in other scams right now,” Carney said.