Wake up. This is not an exception. This is Standard Operating Procedure. As one former Corporate Scientologist put it to me recently, Radical Scientology is all about “razor blades in apples.”
The James Gang – Part Two
by Haydn James (T Paine)
Though I’ve written about the Miscavige and Radical Scientology’s abuses I’ve witnessed, perhaps out of some misplaced British sentiment of allowing justice to take its natural course I wasn’t going to publicly say too much about Dr. Juan Villarreal. But recent events with my friend Mosey Rathbun changed my mind.
And while I am going to hold back much of what I know and play those cards close to my chest, what Marty wrote about Dr. Juan Villarreal having no qualms when it comes to walking over others to play the big man with the IAS and gain favor with Miscavige is right on the money (no pun intended).
You see, I worked for Dr. Villarreal from May 2008 to Oct 2009 in an executive capacity at his dental practice in Harlingen, Texas along with my wife Lucy and my youngest daughter Katrina who worked in his dental lab — three members of the James Gang were employed by him.
Shortly after arriving in Harlingen I found out that Dr. Villarreal had donated millions of dollars to the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) and many other Miscavige bogus schemes. The walls of his office were adorned with plaques and photo shots of prominent Scientology executives handing him awards for those financial contributions. In fact, the last act of my predecessor (while he was turning over the job to me) was to arrange a line of credit for Villarreal with a local bank in excess of $100,000 so he could keep on donating to Miscavige/Scientology. That wasn’t the first line of credit arranged for that purpose and it wouldn’t be the last.
Rather than list all of Villarreal’s many donations to Miscavige it would be easier to just list the Miscavige schemes to which he hasn’t contributed money except I can’t think of any. But the IAS was the main recipient by a long way; Villarreal is up there in the rarified heights of the top few status tiers. And in October 2008, as I recall, he flew over to England to the annual IAS money-fest to be lauded, stroked and pressured out of more funds.
Like many people I believe in some form of social justice. But I’m certainly no communist, I believe that if a person makes a bucket load of money they are entitled to spend it on whatever they wish. And with a gross income of around a million dollars a month, as the sole owner of Harlingen Family Dentistry, Dr. Villarreal’s bucket of cash was certainly overflowing. But quite apart from the fact that his donations help fund and support the abusive Scientology regime, there is a burning question which has to be answered: Did all the money (many millions of dollars) Villarreal donated to Miscavige’s Scientology over the years really belong to him?
I say no way, and for three very good reasons.
First reason: Villarreal made part of his wealth and profit by grossly underpaying his office staff over a period of years.
Harlingen is a rural town in one of the poorest counties in the United States and jobs are hard to come by. Dr. Villarreal knew the score, he admitted to me he knew the score, so took advantage of the scene and built his large practice (which consisted of around 20 dentists, hygienists and key dental assistants, plus 100 or so medical and admin support staff) by keeping many of those support staff close to minimum wage and in Texas that meant $7.25 an hour when I was there.
And when it came to salary review time I didn’t envy my HR manager having to tell some of the employees that Dr. Villarreal was only willing to give them an annual pay raise of 25 cents or even as little as10 cents an hour. The HR manager found it hard because some of the employees broke down, burst into tears and were at a loss to understand why they were not worth more (they were of course). But in a small town like Harlingen they had nowhere else to go (we received applications by the sack full every month from people seeking jobs) so they put up with it.
While we were there Lucy and I helped a number of staff write pay increase proposals so compelling they couldn’t be refused (we even wrote parts of them ourselves) and had some success in raising pay and are proud of that but even so I felt bad.
And Villarreal took further advantage of the local unemployment scene. Three or four times a year he ran a course at his practice that trained students to be dental assistants which on the face of it sounds great. But the truth is that every few months 10 to 12 young unemployed people from Harlingen would scrape together $2400 or so (many borrowed the money), pay it to Dr. Villarreal, take their course in dental assisting and land a job at Harlingen Family Dentistry only to be paid by Villarreal more or less what a floor cleaner would earn directly across the street at the local MacDonald’s while the practice raked in between $70,000 and $100,000 a year for the courses.
When I was there Dr. Villarreal explained to me that he had been in business for 23 years so all the above has been a long term situation.
Second reason: Dr. Villarreal made his money in part by utterly refusing to fund basic medical healthcare for his staff.
My HR manager briefed me one day that, shortly before I arrived at Harlingen Family Dentistry, he had spent many hours researching and compiling a staff healthcare proposal with a number of viable options. Around the same time Villarreal was planning the construction of his new and palatial 10,000 square house (which is now built) he rejected all such proposals. Despite being able to afford it and despite his staff being a hard working bunch they would just have to find healthcare elsewhere or go without.
And as many of his staff were single moms with at least a couple of kids and were paid so little by him, he knew Medicaid would pick up part of their healthcare tab, which is ironic because around $5million of his dental practice’s annual $11 million income came straight from Federal Medicaid funds (a direct bank wire of between $80,000.00 and $100,000.00 per week, yes per week). So he was raking it in from Medicaid at one end while making them pick up his tab at the other.
Third reason and most importantly: Dr. Villarreal stole from the monthly support-staff bonus sum to fund the IAS and other Miscavige ponzi schemes.
The hundred or so support staffers were on a bonus system whereby if the monthly income and production targets which Villarreal set were reached, a percentage of the practice profits would be shared amongst them. The profit was calculated by subtracting all the practice costs and overheads from that month’s total income. Problem was Villarreal counted the repayments of loans and lines of credit taken out to fund Miscavige and Scientology as practice overheads (which they are obviously not). The hundred or so support staffers (who are not Scientologists) have no idea that, for some years now, they have been sending contributions to Miscavige’s Scientology.
I was the manager; the control of finances was done at board level. So the first I knew of all this was when Dr. Teegardin (Scientologist, local mission staff member, dentist and Villarreal’s financial comptroller) came to me one day with my wife Lucy present and complained about how Villarreal was including Scientology funding in the overheads of the practice and thus shredding the support staff bonus sum. She specifically cited as an example one support staff member who would receive $200 less that month as a result and asked for my help in “handling” Dr. Villarreal.
There were other times Dr. Teegardin complained to me about Villarreal’s handling of the practice’s finances (we’ll leave those things for another time and place) but to be clear, Teegardin stated that Villarreal included direct payments to Miscavige’s Scientology as practice “overheads” and this certainly bears further investigation because you can be certain that if you add up all the bonus sums that were wrongly denied the 100 or so support staff over the years at Harlingen Family Dentistry it must total quite a sum.
If you think all this sounds rather cold and ruthless, you’d be right, and before too long the members of the James Gang that worked for Villarreal would experience that ruthless streak first hand.
One morning at the dental office in late Sept 2009, towards the end of a production meeting, Dr. Juan Villarreal dismissed some of the other staff which left just four people with him in the room: two dentists who were Scientologists along with Lucy and me.
Villarreal had recently returned from the Freewinds (IAS HQ) and explained to us that, as a new OT 8, he was now a reg (salesman) for the IAS — and as head of the local minuscule Radical Scientology mission he had a whopping quota from Miscavige to raise $50,000.00 for the IAS in a matter of a few days.
He went on to apply pressure to the four of us to donate to the IAS, asking us to name our current status in the IAS and telling us to move up the status ladder.
I told him in no uncertain terms that there was no Scientology policy basis for the IAS; none whatsoever so it shouldn’t even exist let alone fund raise, there was no LRH policy basis for fund raising, and as I didn’t recall ever paying a penny to the IAS I had no status.
He made a cynical retort that I seemed to have a policy answer for everything, which does happen to be true but it was news to me that L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology policy was subordinate to a Miscavige scheme. And of course, in hindsight, I realize that at that moment I missed his withholds big time. I had trashed the idea of giving ANY money to the IAS, I had inadvertently told him that what he had been doing with the practice finances for years was just plain wrong and at the same time I had yanked away his many justifiers. He didn’t thank me for it.
Needless to say that IAS fund raiser interjected into the dental office conference did not go well. And it was clear that when Villarreal went to Dallas Org shortly thereafter he discussed my comments with top level church executives who happened to be there at the time working to turn it into an “ideal” org.
Not long after that Villarreal fired me from employment at his dental practice. Not satisfied with just that he also fired my wife Lucy and fired my 18 year old daughter Katrina, three members of the James Gang in one fell swoop.
The fact that he put three members of the same family out of work all at the same time, effectively stranding them in rural South Texas, 1500 miles from their family home (a house they could no longer afford to keep) didn’t seem to bother him in the least.
Later Villarreal thought nothing of having his staff lie, in writing, as to why he fired each of us and I have the documents to prove it. But I shouldn’t be surprised; while I was working for him he was prepared to have one of his staff lie for him on the witness stand in a case where a patient was trying to sue him.
All this and the fact that he had earlier told me that I was the best office manager he’d ever had tells you the lengths he was prepared to go to protect his and Miscavige’s money making schemes.
But it goes much deeper than all this. Clearly Dr. Juan Villarreal specializes in doing exactly what Miscavige habitually does:
- Paying low wages.
- Denying health care and sponging off Medicaid (check out the Sea Org).
- Extracting donations from people whether they agree or not.
- Condemning, punishing or discarding into the wilderness anyone that disagrees with him.
And like other Radical Scientology “businessmen” Lucy and I have had the misfortune to work with since we left the Sea Org in 2006, its clear Dr. Villarreal does these things because he is either cut from the same cloth as Miscavige or he’s a coward and acts to avoid punishment. Villarreal certainly complained to me about how he was heavily harassed and punished at Flag and the Ship. I’ll let you, the reader, decide.
Regardless, as with the attack on Mosey Rathbun, I think it’s an act of extreme cowardice to treat vulnerable employees shoddily and rip them off in order to fend off or buy off punishment from above (Miscavige and his Radical Scientology hierarchy) but that’s what Dr. Juan Villarreal and many others do.
Its time Radical Scientology businessmen stopped being cowards and started acting like human beings because right now they act less than human.
As for the James Gang – we know our rights and will see justice done, not just for us and not just with Dr. Villarreal but for others too and on a broader scale.