The following article by Luis Garcia is a follow- up to the several part series in St Petersburg Times, Inside Scientology: The Money Machine. We are going to be doing a bit of Paul Harvey here. A number of articles will follow that expand upon themes covered by the Times, but with the rest of the story filled in. In this case, here is the rest of the story on the Orange County Idle Org fraud that was touched on by the Times.
The Orange County Ideal Org Project; a tale of lies and deception.
by Luis Garcia
First, I would like to acknowledge Joe Childs, Tom Tobin and the St. Petersburg Times for their impressive and unbiased marvel of investigative journalism in the recent series The Money Machine. My hat is off to you, gentlemen.
The rabbit hole is deep and has many twists and turns. I will attempt to shed some clarity and give some additional data on the Orange County Ideal Org evolution. Rocio and I donated the first $100,000 in 2003 that kicked off the OC (Orange County) Ideal Org project. This was announced at a subsequent event with a large attendance, and an additional $340,000 were raised. The project was underway. Other events of all sorts ensued, slowly raising the amount of funds in the pot.
In February of 2006, it was announced that “OC was next.” A mission composed of 3 people arrived. Quentin Tauffer, SO fundraiser extraordinaire came to OC accompanied by 2 women, one doing Admin functions and the other doing Ethics. The first order of business was to issue Ethics interviews summons. Rocio and I were summoned, as well as many OLs and OTs in the field. The ethics interview turned out to be an en-masse rollback. Soon after, a couple of guys were “handled,” and you never heard another peep from them. Now, with all CI removed from the field, the “briefings” could start. And indeed they did! Daily briefings at the Org, where everyone was asked to give and where everyone was asked to get on the phone, go visit people at their homes, businesses, etc., and get them to give as well.
This continued for about a month and most staff in OC and about 30 public were literally working the fundraising drums all day. But it was slow going. The donations were just trickling in. Ed Dearborn confided in me, “the flows are stuck and we need a substantial donation to un-stick them.” You know this part of the story so I won’t repeat it. After we made our donation in March 2006, “because we enthusiastically support our chosen faith,” as spokeswoman Karin Pouw said, it was leveraged to get 2 other individuals to donate large sums for a total of $500,000 each or more. These individuals have since gotten divorced and their finances are in a real mess. Other people also upped their statuses and made large donations. Within 2 weeks all the funds needed to buy the building in Santa Ana, CA had been raised. The flows had been un-stuck.
There was a Victory celebration type event held, where contributors received commendations and leather jackets. The ED, Ed Dearborn, announced to an audience of over 400 that fundraising had officially ended. The renovations would be funded with the proceeds of the sale of the existing building in Tustin, CA, as at that time, there were interested buyers for it offering around $5 million.
Renovations were to start immediately! There were just a couple of little hurdles to overcome first, though.
CSI (Church of Scientology International) had retained a company by the name of Staubach on a global basis, to locate, negotiate and conduct the purchase of buildings. The building for OC had been located and negotiated by a parishioner. There had been no brokers involved, which was a plus often aired at briefings, I mean think of “all the commission money we are saving!”
Although Staubach was not involved at all in the locating or purchasing of the OC’s Ideal Org building, they sent us a bill for their commission nevertheless: $160,000. We couldn’t of course go to the seller after the transaction was finalized and tell him to pay a commission to a broker that was not even present during the transaction. So we had to pay it. And we couldn’t go to the public and tell them about this lunacy either.
So just a few short weeks after it had been declared that “all fundraising had ended,” the ED announced we needed to raise $160,000 to “pay the architect and get him started.” This money was raised in a few weeks.
Staubach’s commission was paid. Karin Pouw’s statement “all donated money is spent carefully and efficiently” is perhaps an inaccurate statement. Who ever heard of a real estate buyer paying a commission to a broker for not working the deal? Indeed, only in the COS’ world of efficient economies.
The second hurdle was that right after the purchase, the last tenant’s lease had just been renewed “by mistake” for another 5 years by the DSA Orange County, Marie Murillo. After this little oversight was recognized, Marie Murillo and the then FBO Ian Faulkner, went to meet with the tenant to see what it would take to get him to move. The tenant was no dummy and he had informed himself very well as to the nature of his new landlord; and having found that the church of Scientology was engaged in an “unprecedented period of expansion” buying prime real estate all over the world like there was no tomorrow, he said it would take a cash payment of $450,000 plus 3 months of free rent and 3 months of free utilities. Now, this is when Mr. FBO, Ian Faulkner, put his foot in his mouth, and said something along the lines of “we could do that.” You see, for Mr. Faulkner to comply with his orders and “handle the tenant and get him to move” only meant extracting a few hundred thousand dollars from back-broken parishioners. No big deal. It’s very easy to spend somebody else’s money.
When he hit a wall in trying to raise this much money, again, after only a short while of having announced “no more fundraising,” I got a call with a request to help them negotiate with the tenant.
As you can imagine I was dealt a bad hand. The tenant, based on Mr. Faulkner’s confident response in their first meeting, was now licking his chops and very much looking forward to his big pay-day.
I met with the tenant multiple times and used all my business skills to get him to abandon the idea of $450,000. This process took me 5 months, all the while incessant queries and orders from the office of the Landlord Int kept coming down, such as “what’s the hold-up? We need to start the renos! Pay him! Get him out!” This was a top priority cycle. The tenant was holding up the Ideal Org in OC. Unthinkable!
I got the tenant to agree to a cash payment of $175,000 and a short period of free rent. He moved out in May 2007. I don’t quite remember how this money was raised, I mean what shore story was used, but the public were definitely not told that we paid $175,000 of their money to fix a little mistake on the DSA’s part. I received the following email from Mark Pisani, from the Int Landlord’s Office:
From: Mark Pisani [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 10:42 AM
To: Garcia. Luis
Cc: Dearborn, Ed; Murillo, Marie
Subject: Tenant termination agreement
I have attached an agreement form that was drafted by the church’s real estate attorneys at JMBM Law firm. It was written for another org but I changed the dates here. Correct the dates as needed to suit your needs.
Obviously, stay in close comm with ED and Marie (as you are doing this for them).
I was given commendations and I also received the following email from OC DSA, Marie Murillo. She knew I would be going to Flag soon for a refresher, and she thought this might help me with my perceived transgressions:
From: marie [email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 11:56 AM
To: Luis Garcia
Solo Nots DoP (for Luis Garcia) May-11-07
Re: Luis’ participation on handling the remaining tenant of our new Ideal Org.
This is to clarify a bit more Luis’ help on the above cycle as the commendations that both the ED and I wrote on him only mentions the final product and not necessarily all the work involved.
Our building had a remaining tenant that had just renewed another 5 years lease right after we bought the building. They occupy the space which is at the corner of the building. This is going to be Div 6 as it is the only area in the building that has windows to the outside and therefore the most exposure. At the beginning of this cycle they demanded $450,000 plus 3 months free rent and free utilities. We simply could not afford that and the cycle ended right there.
Needless to say there was no way that those tenants would not be handled regardless how much this would cost us, as it jeopardized the renos and the opening of our new org.
I worked with Luis on this since October 2006 or so. He helped me review the lease and found different areas where we could be asking the tenants for insurance that they did not provide and other items that were important to us and could also help them change their mind about leaving. I was in constant communication with Luis at that time. This cycle of reviewing the lease was a many hours cycle as it involved legal aspects that Luis had to research.
Luis got them to agree to leave for $175,000 which is considerably less than the original $450,000 amount.
I want to add that at some point I had to leave for Flag as I went there to finish OT-7, since that moment Luis took over the cycle fully which allowed me to not have any attention units on this while I was getting thru the end of OT-7. He was in comm with me but took full responsibility for the cycle.
This cycle was priceless for my org as with the tenants there for another 4 years we would not be able to open the Ideal Org.
I knew that Luis had taken the last few months to dedicate himself to get thru the level, he took off work and any other activities that did not consist of getting in session and was working on getting done with OT-7, regardless of this he answered to my request for help on a cycle that was of great importance to the org and made the time to do this. I truly appreciated this.
This is true,
We were now ready to start the renovations. Were we? Nope. The real estate market had just started to falter and the $5 million buyers were no longer there. We could only get $4.5 million or so.
So at a new enthusiastic briefing, an audience of not-so-enthusiastic parishioners were told that… $500,000 more needed to be raised.
Fundraising events, raffles, barbecues, bake sales, and even poker games in the name of the Ideal Org have run ever since. And let’s not forget “events” such as “Bowling for OC’s Ideal Org” or “The Pirates of the Caribbean Fundraising party,” or “the OC’s Ideal Org golf ball drop.” Yeap, numbered golf balls were sold and dropped from a helicopter on top of a golf course hole. The ball that went into the hole first would win its proud owner a TV set! As you can see all very on-policy Scientology actions.
As time passed, two things occurred: 1) the price they could get for the existing building in Tustin has been steadily declining. All they can get now is $3 million, IF they can find a buyer. And 2) the price for the renovations has been steadily increasing. When I asked the ED, Ed Dearborn, about this he said “all that stuff from Gold was very expensive.” The target to be raised became a moving target. First it was $500,000, then $800,000. Then $1.2 million, then $1.6 million, then…
In January of this year, I received the following letter from the Orange County OT Committee:
“It IS happening!”
This is a brief accounting summary of the project as I understand it:
1. Building purchase price: $6.2 million. April 2006.
2. Commission paid to Staubach: $160,000.
3. $175,000 paid to tenants to get them to move.
Add to this the lost of rental income for the last 4 years: $8,000 per month, 48 months = $384,000. Moreover, the lease would have been up by now, so the $175,000 tenant pay-off could have been saved. But hey! The renos had to start yesterday! “Pay him! Get him out!”
4. Now, the letter above says $1.3 million was raised in the last 6 months (more like in the last 5 years, since 2006).
5. “Management made an award of $1.2 million.”
6. So that leaves a mere $2.7 million more to be raised by LRH’s birthday (March 2011). And that is if the damned target stays put for a while! I’m telling you, this target has had legs for the last 5 years!
7. But let’s not forget the $3 million they will hopefully get from the sale of the existing building. Back in 2006 they had multiple offers for around $5 million and they turned them down.
Do the math, and this 100 year old, asbestos-ridden, 42,000 sq. foot building is going to cost a total of $14.7 million ($350/sq. ft.).
Also note that New OT VIIIs Marty Prince (Cramming officer), Yvonne Prince (Senior C/S) and Marie Murillo, (DSA) have recently “come on board and are now in charge of the fundraising.” What about their posts?
But wait! There is more. The building does not have it’s own parking lot. The lot across the street is used by government employees during the day and it’s pretty full. That leaves the 2-
hour coin meters on the streets… if you can find one available. Genius!
The building has sat empty since that last tenant left in May 2007. Events are not even held there anymore. The neighborhood it is in, is not precisely Beverly Hills. All businesses have bars and security doors in the storefronts. Some poor staff members have had to spend every single night there since 2007, to keep it secure.
Now, who shares my opinion that LRH would probably not approve of any one point above, let alone all of them combined?
I hope this finds you well, and I hope this helps shine some light on OC.