Count 9: The covert intelligence operations against American Scientology critic Jesse Prince during the year 2000, directed by the "Office of Special Affairs International," which included the planting of evidence to incriminate him.
Jesse Prince had been a Scientologist for several years. He joined Scientology in 1976 and almost immediately became a staff member in one of the organizations. During the following years he moved up the ladder of Scientology's hierarchy and held senior positions within CSI and RTC [Exh. No. 222, Excerpt]. In 1992 he left Scientology and settled in Minneapolis. For the next few years he did not have anything to do with the organization, until in June 1998 he watched an NBC-"Dateline"-documentary about the Boston millionaire Robert Minton.
Minton, a retired investment banker, had become the focus of media attention due to his financial support of Scientology critics and his ambition to become a crusader against the organization. In 1996 Minton had started to participate in demonstrations against Scientology, organized by internet activists. One year later he began to fund the plaintiff in a wrongful death-civil suit against the "Flag Service Organization" in Clearwater, Florida ("Estate of Lisa McPherson vs. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc. et al," Circuit Court for the 6th Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida, No. 97-01235).
Not surprisingly, Minton gathered a dedicated group of adherents, which followed him in picketing various Scientology organizations and participating in the public debate. Soon after the "Dateline"-show, Prince joined Minton's group too and became a public and outspoken critic himself.
As well as picketing and giving television-interviews, Prince also gave testimony on behalf of Scientology critics in various court cases. At that time Scientology's "Religious Technology Center" had initiated several lawsuits against internet critics, alleging copyright infringement regarding Scientology's "holy scriptures." Prince's testimony was therefore welcome to the defendants, as he had first-hand knowledge of the activities of Scientology's trademark holder RTC during the 1980s [Exh. No. 223].
As one would expected, the Scientology organization was not too happy with Prince's activities, and at first the organization tried to enforce the non-disclosure agreements through the courts, Prince had signed shortly before his resignation from Scientology in the early 1990s. At the time of his initial testimonies in the above-mentioned cases, the first reports appeared in the internet-newsgroup "alt.religion.scientology," saying that Prince was followed by private investigators, apparently hired by the Church of Scientology [Exh. No. 224].
On January 20th, 1999 Prince posted a graphic account about his experiences with two alleged Scientology-spies, Laura Terepin and a prostitute, allegedly hired by a Scientology investigator [Exh. No. 225]. Prince's allegations remained unsubstantiated.
After the "Dateline"-show Minton and his entourage continued to publicly debate Scientology and to picket in front of various Scientology organizations. Some of these demonstrations did not proceed in a peaceful way. Scientology security staffers tried to provoke the delicate Minton by shouting out embarrassing points of his personal life. Minton and his friends, on the other hand, sometimes arrived intoxicated and were shouting obscenities at the Scientologists. Inevitably, violent clashes occurred. In September 1998 Minton was temporarily arrested by the Boston Police after he had hit Frank Ofman, the OSA spokesman of the local Scientology organization with his picket-sign. One year later Minton was again taken into custody, this time by the Clearwater police, after hitting OSA-employee Richard Howd, who had followed and filmed Minton. The judge who presided over that case, issued later a temporary restraining order against Minton and Howd, keeping them a safe distant from each other [Exh. No. 226].
Around this time, Minton decided to transform his protest movement into an organized entity. Consequently he formed the "Lisa McPherson Trust, Inc." (LMT) and incorporated it in Clearwater, Florida. The LMT was positioned in a downtown building right next to the headquarters of "Flag Service Organization" (FSO) and staffed with close adherents of Minton, including Jesse Prince, who became the Vice-President of the organization.
The purpose of the LMT was to provide information about Scientology's true nature and to counsel Scientologists who were in doubt about their organization. Nevertheless one major activity of the LMT remained picketing in front of FSO-buildings. Minton's aggressive approach towards Scientology also brought city officials into the conflict who "tried to maintain peace" between the parties [Exh. No. 227].
Minton's arrival in Clearwater and his continuing support of the civil Lisa McPherson-lawsuit also drew the attention of senior executives within OSA and RTC. So it was not surprising when Mark Rathbun from RTC, Michael Rinder, "Commanding Officer OSA International," and OSA-litigator Kendrick Moxon settled temporarily in Clearwater to start extensive surveillance operations on Minton and the LMT-employees.
Before Scientology's investigations began to bear fruit, it had, however, to face a setback, as on May 23rd, 2000 a jury acquitted Minton in a criminal trial that was brought against him after his arrest for battery in the fall of 1999 [Exh. No. 228].
Then, on August 11th, 2000, it finally happened: officers from the Largo Police Department arrived at the residence of Prince. After having seized a marijuana plant from his porch they arrested him on the charge of cultivating such a plant [Exh. No. 229 and Exh. No. 230].
As a first reaction, the Scientologists were of course triumphant. In an interview with the local press, OSA-executive Michael Rinder said that the charge confirmed his suspicions and that the Scientologists have "been saying that these people, since they arrived, were just a pack of criminals [Exh. No. 231]."
When the arrest warrant for Prince was later made public, it shed some light on how it had come about. In his affidavit that led to the warrant, detective Howard Crosby from the Largo Police Department outlined his investigation into Prince's activities [Exh. No. 232]. He stated that he had been informed by a "confidential informant" that Prince had been growing marijuana at his home and had been also been consuming it. Under the guise of being a friend, Crosby then had visited Prince's home together with the "confidential informant" and had examined the plants for himself.
After Prince's arrest and his subsequent release on bail nothing further happened until on December 17th, 2000 when the State Prosecutor filed a misdemeanor charge against Prince for his possession of a controlled substance [Exh. No. 233] and a trial date was finally set for May 23rd, 2001.
Four days before the trial, Prince's attorney Denis DeVlaming announced that the defense had uncovered that Jesse Prince's arrest had been acted upon a tip by a private investigator who had worked at that time for the Church of Scientology [Exh. No. 234]. DeVlaming also stated that for at least four months Prince was under daily surveillance by private investigators working on behalf of the Scientology law firm Moxon & Kobrin. This had been found out through depositions that had been held during the previous days.
These depositions established the following additional facts: The Office of Special Affairs had hired through the Moxon & Kobrin-law firm two private investigators, Brian Raftery and Joseph Fabrizio who had followed Jesse Prince and observed his professional and private activities [Exh. No. 235, Excerpt]. Subsequently Fabrizio hired another private investigator, Barry Gaston, who, as an Afro-American was thought to be well suited to infiltrate Prince's private life, as Prince was an Afro-American himself [Exh. No. 236, Excerpt]. Gaston's duty was to get close to Prince in order "to see any immoral and illegal activities and report them back to Fabrizio [Exh. No. 237, Excerpt]."
On February 7th, 2000 Gaston started his surveillance. After having being briefed Fabrizio, he familiarized himself with some local areas in Clearwater and Largo where he hoped to find and contact Prince. Afterwards he wrote the first of several reports that would chronicle his surveillance activity of Prince [Exh. No. 238, Excerpt].
Almost two months later, on April 1st, Gaston established the first contact with Prince in a bar in Largo, Pinellas County, where he introduced himself as "Renzi Trinidad [Exh. No. 239, Excerpt]."
On April 15th, Gaston met Prince and his girlfriend at the same bar another time. According to his report, on that evening he was invited by Prince to come to his home. There he was shown the rooms of house. Prince also showed Gaston a marijuana plant he had near his swimming pool and later offered him a joint [Exh. No. 240, Excerpt]. In the trial, on May 23rd, Gaston pleaded the fifth amendment when asked during the examination by Prince's defense attorney, if he, himself, "possessed" Marijuana while being in Prince's house.
April 22nd was the next entry in Gaston's diary of contacts with Prince. On that evening he allegedly observed Prince smoking marijuana and crack outside of the bar in a car together with some young adults. [Exh. No. 241, Excerpt]
Two days later, on April 24th, Gaston wrote that the other investigator Brian Raftery introduced him to police detective Harold Crosby. Crosby told him that he would enable Gaston to become a confidential informant for his police department. In his diary Gaston wrote that he "signed forms which gave the classification of a Confidential Police Informant" [Exh. No. 242, Excerpt]. During the trial attorney DeVlaming introduced these signed forms to the examination as an exhibit and asked Gaston about the conditions he had to abide to work as informant for Crosby:
DeVlaming: "Did Crosby tell you that you could neither use marijuana use outside of his presence or engage in anything that would be considered as entrapment. Did he tell you that?" Gaston: "I'd like to plead the fifth in reference to your question, Sir."
During cross-examination Gaston was asked about his fifth amendment pleadings.
Prosecutor: "Mr. Gaston, you have taken the fifth on several questions about your direct testimony. Isn't it true that you've taken the fifth because you are now aware that you face possible charges as a result of your conduct during this investigation?"
On the afternoon of May 7th Gaston went with his friend "Mitch" (Harold Crosby) to Prince's home. During his stay "Mitch" could detect Prince's marijuana plants and at one point Jesse Prince offered him a joint [Exh. No. 243, Excerpt].
Gaston continued to meet and observe Prince during the months of June and July and also continued to report on Prince's use of marijuana and alcohol, for example the night of July 28th/29th [Exh. No. 244, Excerpt]. Later during the trial when asked by the prosecutor to give an account of that evening Gaston pleaded again the fifth amendment.
Gaston's made his last entries in his "diary" on August 15th, four days after Prince's arrest by the Largo police officers [Exh. No. 245, Excerpt]. Two months later it was found out by investigators working on behalf of Minton that Trinidad was in fact Barry Gaston and that he had worked as an investigator for Moxon & Kobrin.
Gaston did plead the fifth amendment for several times for apparent reasons. On the second day of the trial, on May 24th, 2001, Deneen Phillips, Prince's fiancee, was examined by the prosecution and the defense. Phillips stated that Gaston in his role as Renzi Trinidad not only brought marijuana to their house but also introduced Prince and Phillips to a drug dealer at a bar which they were frequenting.
DeVlaming: "At a Wilson's Liquor store, I think it was on the second time that you had seen him. On the first time it was just he and Jesse just said ?hello'?"
Phillips: "Yes, Sir. This way."
DeVlaming: "And on the second time, you said that he looked like a friend of his, or an acquaintance of his. Was he the one who was smoking marijuana with everybody?
DeVlaming: "And how do you believe that he and ?Renzi' were friends, or that he was part of his crowd."
Phillips: "Because ?Renzi' knew a few people of the people and he was already out there. And he knew a few of the people in the bar. And we didn't know them. If we go there, me and Jesse usually are just sitting to ourselves. We have a drink and go back home."
DeVlaming: "Did ?Renzi' actually make the introduction with this man that ultimately gave some marijuana?"
Phillips: "Yes, Sir." DeVlaming: "Did ?Renzi' see that man to your knowledge or did he know that the man gave you marijuana?"
Phillips: "Yes, Sir. He was standing right there."
Later during the cross-examination, DeVlaming wanted to know what happened on the day, when Gaston brought detective Crosby ("Mitch") to Prince's house.
DeVlaming: "On the seventh day of May, the marijuana that was there, on that day. Was that the marijuana produced by ?Renzi's' friend?"
DeVlaming: "You're sure of that?"
DeVlaming: "Whose idea was it on the seventh day to have a smoke?"
DeVlaming: "We know now Miss Phillips, that on the April 24th, he became a confidential informant, working as a police agent. Can you tell us whether or not after April 24th, whether he brought marijuana to your house?"
Phillips: "Yes, Sir."
DeVlaming: "OK. And did he bring it for the purpose of offering it and for the purpose of smoking it?"
Phillips: "Yes. And the night with my girlfriends he had marijuana. You know, I am not just saying it was my girlfriends' marijuana. He had marijuana also."
DeVlaming: "Did he take it out there himself?"
Phillips: "It was just joints. They were already rolled. He already had ones."
The trial against Prince at the Pinellas County Courthouse ended with a hung jury. The court declared a mistrial and the State prosecution decided later to drop the charges against Prince [Exh. No. 246]. When asked by a reporter, one jury member said,
"that she and other jurors felt Prince was probably guilty of the charges, but, that a lot of it had to do with entrapment. They (other jurors) felt like the Church of Scientology had a lot to do with setting him up.'"
After the trial, Scientology and Minton's LMT continued to fight each other in the courts. In the fall of 2001, Minton finally decided to close down the LMT, due to increasing legal problems in connection with his funding of the Lisa McPherson civil lawsuit [Exh. No. 247]. Since then the public debate around Scientology and Minton had considerably died down, although the Office of Special Affairs nevertheless continued to portray Minton and Prince as anti-religious extremists, allegedly involved in criminal activities [Exh. No. 248].
During the depositions and the trial testimonies Prince's defense attorney could establish the amount of money was paid to the investigators by the Church of Scientology: Barry Gaston who had worked a total of 185 days on the surveillance of Prince received $ 14,000 for it. Joseph Fabrizio who worked also on other assignments by Scientology was paid an hourly rate of $ 50 by the Moxon & Kobrin law firm. Brian Raftery stated in his trial testimony that he worked a steady 60 hour-week for the Office of Special Affairs in Clearwater and received an hourly rate of $ 60 for his work.
Conservatively estimated, the law firm Moxon & Kobrin, and ultimately, the Church of Scientology international, was therefore spending about $ 300,000 for the work of these three investigators during the year 2000, which included the surveillance of Jesse Prince.
During the past year one internet critic from Florida, Michael Krotz, compiled a list of several private investigators who apparently had worked for the Church of Scientology and were following and investigating critics, 16 of them were working or have worked within the past two years in Florida [Exh. No. 249]. A conservative calculation suggests, that the Church of Scientology must have spent millions of dollars in its investigation of critics, just in Florida alone.
The Church of Scientology and its investigators often assert that the hiring of investigators and the surveillance is done "to protect the members of the (Scientology) congregation," because there had been "a continuing harassment of both members and staff" [Exh. No. 250, Excerpt]. There is no doubt that Jesse Prince's and Robert Minton's character and conduct are questionable, but that cannot be a justification for a charitable and tax-exempt organization to run intelligence operations that include intrusion into the private life of critics, attemptly to set these people up in order to incriminate them, to exploit the results to destroy any criticism against Scientology, and last but not least, payment totalling in the millions of dollars to investigators to execute such operations.
The case of Barry Gaston was not the first one, when agents working on behalf of Scientology tried to incriminate critics through the alleged use of drugs: In 1973 Danish "Guardian's Office" operative Jan Hansen placed a package of LSD under the window of Journalist Jakob Andersen, a journalist working for the Copenhagen newspaper "Ekstrabladet." As part of a GO-operation against Andersen, Hansen tried to incriminate him and also wrote an anonymous letter to the police to instigate a raid in Andersen's home. The operation was finally blown and became later the subject of a trial where Hansen and other GO-operatives were found guilty of having tried to set Andersen up. Andersen, who first started to expose Scientology's activities in the early seventies, is probably the most legally persecuted critic of Scientology, as the Guardian's Office initiated between 1972 and 1983 30 lawsuits per his count against him. All of them were either dismissed or lost by Scientology.
Scientology claims that it abandoned the tactics and illegal activities of the Guardian's Office. In view of the Gaston-case only the form of such operations has changed. In 1973 an employee of Scientology's own intelligence service was placing the incriminating evidence under the window of a critic. Today such work is done by private investigators, hired by other investigators, legally masked through a "client-attorney relationship" or a "privileged work-product" that makes it difficult to detect the true instigators of such operations. The form might be different but the illegal character of such activity for which charitable funds are spent stays the same. Count 10: The stealing or copying and subsequent storage of confidential military documents of a NATO-airbase in Greece by the "Office of Special Affairs" in Athens.
See under Chapter 37 - Espionage and censorship;
Count 11: The misuse of interstate mass mailings by senior officials of the "Office of Special Affairs International" and other associated Scientology entities from 1990 until 1998 to advertise and propagate the stated goal of the destruction of the profession of psychiatry.
See under Chapter 41 - Extortion and threats;
Count 12: The covert intelligence operations that were initiated during the early 1990s through the "France Investigations Handling Program," which was directed and executed by the "Office of Special Affairs International" and which included the infiltration and manipulation of the French Judicial system and the employment of an agent of the French DST.
See under Chapter 45 - Foreign Relations;
Count 13: The covert intelligence operations that were initiated in 1994 through the "Greek Handling Program" by the "Office of Special Affairs International," directed by "Office of Special Affairs International" and which included operations against Greek Orthodox priest Father Alevizopoulos and other critics of Scientology in Greece, and infiltration of Greek government agencies.
See under Chapter 45 - Foreign Relations;
Count 14: The covert intelligence operations against American citizen Alexander Dvorkin and other critics in Russia, that were initiated in 1994 and supervised by the "Office of Special Affairs International" and "Office of Special Affairs Europe" and that included the infiltration and manipulation of the Russian judicial system and the employment of agents of the Russian FSB.
See under Chapter 45 - Foreign Relations;
Count 15: The fraudulent representations about the use of funds for Scientology services, which had been promoted to public members through the U. S. Postal Service by the "Church of Scientology International," "Church of Scientology Western United States" and the "Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc."
See under Chapter 63 - Mail Fraud;
Count 16: The conspiracy to destruct and to withhold evidence, executed by the "Office of Special Affairs" during the criminal investigation into Lisa McPherson's death, which was conducted by the Clearwater Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
See under Chapter 73 - Obstruction of Justice;