- Mark Rathbun: on All Clear, Joey Deciccio, and the Flynn problem (May 28, 2013)
- Mark Rathbun: on the Check Forgery Frame Ads (May 28, 2013)
- Mark Rathbun: on mounting the offensive against Flynn and FAMCO (May 28, 2013)
- Mark Rathbun: on Michael Flynn, Geoffrey Shervell and Gerry Armstrong (May 28, 2013)
- US v. Kattar 840 F.2d 118; 1988 U.S. App. LEXIS 2161
- The Boston Globe: Jury To Resume Deliberations In Scientology Extortion Trial (December 28, 1986)
- The Boston Phoenix: What’s the scam? (June 3, 1986)
One of the most memorable encounters occurred after one of Ingram’s associates located a New York mafioso named Joey Deciccio, who claimed to have the information and power to bring Flynn’s FAMCO scheme to a halt in an instant. Geoff Shervell went to Atlantic City , New Jersey to meet Deciccio, to determine whether he was for real. He called in to ASI to debrief so that Miscavige could be in on it. Shervell said that Deciccio claimed to know the holder of enormous, accumulated gambling debts of Flynn. Deciccio was in a position to buy the debt, at which point he would effectively own Flynn. Miscavige was under so much pressure to produce an “all clear” for Hubbard that he had me booked on the next available flight to Philadelphia, to meet with Deciccio myself.
I took the redeye and was sleepless and wired on coffee when my flight arrived at 6:00 the next morning. I was picked up by a long, stretch red Lincoln limo, courtesy of Deciccio. I was barely able to stay awake during the long drive to Atlantic City. I met Shervell in a casino. He was electrified with excitement at the prospect of the danger of the folks we were dealing with, along with the hope we might be able to attain instant All Clear.
Deciccio and an associate greeted us. Both were archetypical Hollywood mobsters. Deciccio was middle-aged, with a grey pompadour, an open gaudy shirt and even gaudier gold pendant and chain across his white-haired, tanned chest. He wore a polyester suit, gold sunglasses, and talked like a seasoned wise guy. He was charming and friendly, but rough cut. His sidekick was a six-foot-four, three-hundred -pound refrigerator with no neck, introduced as Hank Lamotta. Joey said we needed to go up to their hotel room to discuss the business at hand. We took the elevator far up the hotel tower. We were led into a room and sat around a small round table overlooking the Atlantic City boardwalk. Hank immediately closed the drapes.
“Look , this Flynn bastard is in some bad kind of trouble. Seems he’s addicted to playing the numbers and ponies,” Deciccio started in. “I can get his debt transferred to me for a discount. Then Flynn has to play by Brooklyn rules.” Deciccio paused for effect.
“What are the Brooklyn rules?” I asked. Deciccio traded grins and chuckles with Hank. Hank never sat down. Aside from the grin on cue, he just stood behind my chair with a menacing look on his face and his arms crossed – apparently to add some fear to the mix.
“Well , the first level is when a guy don’t pay his debt, he gets a visit from some of our boys. They hold him by his feet and dangle his head in the sewer till the rats start gnawing on his face. Usually that brings out the entrepreneur in him and he finds a way to start paying down.”
“What if that doesn’t work?”
“Well, then we up the ante. We start by taking a finger , starting with the finger that has a rock on it.”
“What’s next if that doesn’t work?”
“We take the rest of his fucking fingers,” Deciccio boomed , as if frustrated that my questioning was ruining the effect of his rehearsed intimidation play.
“Well , I don’t see how that makes the Flynn problem go away.”
“That’s easy. Rather than exercise the Brooklyn rules for the collection of the debt, we do them to make the litigation go away.”
“ There is a problem with all this. We will not engage in or condone any illegal acts.”
“Well, too late for that, pal. We had a deal.”
“You can’t have a deal, because I am the only one who is authorized to make any deals.” Suddenly, from behind me Hank’s ham of a hand slammed the small table, THWAPP! “This is bullshit!” yelled Hank. “Oh, no, now you’ve done it,” Deciccio said, as Hank stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
“You really screwed the pooch, pal,” Deciccio said to me with a great deal of concern.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“He’s gone to get his gun.”
Deciccio and I looked one another in the eye for thirty seconds. Then we heard a key in the door and Hank lumbered back in. I turned and looked Hank in the eye as he stormed toward me. I reckoned if I made a move to resist him, the laws of physics would not be in my favor. So I decided to simply confront the situation I was in – do nothing else but face it as comfortably as I could. Hank stopped in front of me and looked down while biting his lower lip, as if restraining himself from beating me to a pulp. Once it was clear that I was not retreating and they were not killing, the discussion resumed between Deciccio and me. Now it was more civil, and Deciccio retreated by appealing to my sense of fairness. After a while it became evident to Deciccio that they misestimated their encounter and played the wrong hand . He started making a pitch for the future.
“Listen, stay in touch, maybe we can come up with some more legally acceptable ways of doing business.” Hank was assigned to drive Geoff and I back to New York La Guardia airport. Now that the intimidation game was over, Hank was a big old pussycat. We talked sports and politics all the way back and punctuated our trip with a pleasant lunch stop.1
- Rathbun, Mark (2013-05-28). Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (p. 224-226). Amazon Books. Kindle Edition. ↩
When the DOJ utilized the Flynn tactic of seeking L. Ron Hubbard’s deposition and then asking to win by default when the church failed to produce him, it only reinforced our view that Flynn and the DOJ were in league. When I met with the Boston DOJ office attorney responsible for the check investigation, our suspicions of a grand conspiracy became virtually irrefutable fact, in our minds. Bracket Badger Denniston III was the Assistant US Attorney
in the fraud division who was assigned the case. Denniston was a snooty, thirty-something, conservative blue-blood. He treated me with cool disdain. Denniston never shared a single detail of his own alleged investigation. He listened to the results of our investigation with disinterest, and when I detailed Flynn or DOJ connections with the Bank of New England he merely smirked condescendingly.
When we had exhausted all leads and run into a stone wall with the DOJ, mild-mannered Geoff Shervell came up with an audacious idea. We would place a full page ad in the New York Times, offering a ten-thousand-dollar reward for information leading to the conviction of the masterminds behind the attempted passing of the forged $ 2 million L. Ron Hubbard check. Miscavige loved the idea and green-lighted the project. Within days of the ad’s publication, Ingram, the contact point named in the ad, received a call from a woman in Boston.1
- Rathbun, Mark (2013-05-28). Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (p. 222). Amazon Books. Kindle Edition. ↩
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. ↩
Sure enough, right in alignment with Sun Tzu’s Art of War – which was a Hubbard-recommended read , Flynn became very resourceful once we had his back against the river. Just as it appeared he could not keep up with the mountain of paper under which our now-coordinated team was burying him, he was saved by an angel of sorts. Wayne B. Hollingsworth, recently-resigned Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston, came on board. Hollingsworth, though not well-heeled after years of government work, outfitted Flynn’s offices with the latest in computer equipment. He brought on more attorneys and support staff. And all of these new troops apparently were not asking for a dime to devote their next several years to the FAMCO plan (or, as we suspected, they were being paid by some vested interest that was inimical to Scientology). Flynn also received a windfall, care of the fruits of Miscavige’s enemy-making proclivities. Gerry Armstrong, the archivist whom Miscavige and Starkey nearly hung for trying to protect Hubbard and the church against the very claims Flynn had been making , had made contact with Flynn. We knew this because for several months Miscavige had been directly supervising surveillance of Armstrong, through a former GO intel staff member named Geoff Shervell. Shervell utilized teams of private eyes to shadow Armstrong everywhere. Shervell reported directly to Miscavige through all those months, just as I had on litigation matters from our Special Unit. On more than one occasion, Shervell groused to me about the incessant, obsessive pressure Miscavige put on him, demanding to know Armstrong’s every move. He said, “Marty, he knows we’re on him, which kind of defeats the purpose of the surveillance .” Thinking for a moment, Geoff added, “Unless the purpose is to drive him crazy.”
Armstrong became increasingly paranoid under pressure and finally got spooked enough to go to Flynn for help. Armstrong also brought with him several boxes of biography archives he had lifted from the church; documents that demonstrated to him that Hubbard’s personal biography, promoted by the church, was full of holes. I did not connect the dots until years later, but Miscavige had essentially chased Armstrong right into the enemy camp. In September, 1982, all I knew was that Shervell had evidence of Armstrong lifting the documents, and I had direct, urgent orders from Miscavige to sue Armstrong back to the stone ages. We sued, and obtained an injunction which impounded the files with the Los Angeles Superior Court pending trial (which would occur years later). But that did not stop Armstrong from – in fact it drove him to – writing long, detailed declarations claiming L. Ron Hubbard was a fraud and that the church would stop at nothing to prevent him from proving so. Flynn now had a fresh, inside witness who knew Hubbard’s personal archives better than anybody on Ron’s side. 1
- Rathbun, Mark (2013-05-28). Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (pp. 193-194). Amazon Books. Kindle Edition. ↩