Tony Ortega on the future of Narconon

Discussion in 'Narconon' started by The Wrong Guy, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology Anti-Drug Program: Fabricated Court Orders Suggest Attempt to Silence Critics

    Someone appears to be trying to scrub warnings about the church's controversial Narconon program from the internet.

    By Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, August 9, 2017


    Nearly a decade after Scientology prompted a high-profile internet protest movement — sparked when the church attempted to remove a damaging YouTube video of member Tom Cruise speaking about the religion — comes the discovery of a new covert campaign to subvert online criticism of the organization's social work. A series of forged court orders were submitted to Google (and possibly to Yahoo and Bing as well) in 2016 in an attempt to convince the search giant to expunge links to written objections to Scientology's controversial anti-drug program Narconon. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment when asked whether it is investigating the issue, which involves the bogus signatures of judges from multiple states.

    Collectively, the material seeks to mend the standing of unbranded Narconon facilities in Michigan and their owner, a prominent Scientologist named Per Wickstrom, whose reputations have been battered by statements on a number of dedicated websites and message boards critical of the church and the program, including and, as well as the general consumer watchdog service (Neither Wickstrom, reached through his Serenity Point facility near Grand Rapids, Michigan, nor the Church of Scientology returned requests for comment.)

    [ ]

    Four fabricated orders, dated May and August 2016, ostensibly grant injunctions against the tech companies, preventing them from linking to material that, the documents assert, the courts found defamatory in Hamilton County, Ohio; Fulton County, Georgia; and Philadelphia. Some of the orders appear to be templated on an authentic Hamilton County court order from March 2015, which also was submitted to Google on behalf of a small San Francisco production company called Wild Strawberry Entertainment.

    It's unclear who's responsible for forging the orders. However, THR reviewed another sham Hamilton County document involving a request to remove links from search engines, a process known as de-indexing. THR obtained a business contract connected to this other filing, indicating that an entity called Web Savvy had charged a fee of $3,750 for the successful elimination of each "negative" link. Web Savvy and a related company,, are based in Torrance, just south of Los Angeles, and both are run by a marketing consultant named John Rooney, who describes himself on LinkedIn as an expert in "removing negative content from the web and promoting client's positive image," citing at the top of a list of sites he focuses on.

    Corresponding by email, Rooney denied that his firm had any connection to Narconon. When pressed to explain the documentation, he stopped responding to emails and phone calls.

    Neither the judges nor the lawyers impersonated in the materials would comment. The search firms also declined to address the matter.

    The affected websites themselves, however, were both candid and unsurprised. "We've been dealing with shenanigans like this for a while," explained Mary McConnell, the pseudonym of an activist volunteer with two of them, and "To go so far as using the name of real judges is what's eye-opening." Adds a weary Ed Magedson, owner of, with a more general observation: "It has become far more prevalent in the last year or so to attempt to de-index us with Google, since that's how users find content anyway, and Google appears to almost automatically rubber-stamp [requests], so some people try to take advantage." had previously alerted its readership community that in February 2016 a "Larry Brennan" requested that Google remove, due to an alleged copyright violation, a document published on Carnegie Mellon's website detailing the state of Oklahoma mental health board's 1991 denial of a Narconon application for certification. Brennan, a former high-ranking Scientologist turned critic — who was transgender and transitioned in 2012 to Denise — died in 2014.

    Continued at
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  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology anti-drug program: Fabricated court orders suggest attempt to silence critics’

    By Eugene Volokh, The Washington Post, August 10, 2017


    Gary Baum (Hollywood Reporter), who has written a lot about Scientology, has the story:


    For more on the Internet libel takedown system — other forgeries, other forms of misconduct and still other matters — see these posts.


    This post has also been added to the thread about the Scientology and the Aftermath TV series:
  4. Actor Mark Ruffalo has tweeted the story. He has 3.33 million followers. His tweet has been retweeted 115 times.

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  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    Just Say No To Xenu’s Fraud | Letters To The Editor, Jersey Shore Online

    By Rev. Dr. Eric Hafner, November 3, 2017


    Many New Jerseyans are in need of a treatment program, to help break free from the grasp of addiction to drugs like heroin/opiates or a drinking problem. Families have often sent loved ones to multiple programs in the hopes of sobriety. But let’s not make a bad situation worse, and lose your money to a scam.

    In an internet search for drug treatment programs, a group called “Narconon” will likely be a result. At times the group will operate treatment referral pages that mask their true operator. On their websites, they falsely claim 75 percent success rates. These rates are bogus.

    Narconon is operated by the Church of Scientology, and bases their programs on brainwashing persons into the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard, and have attracted allegations of fraud, in addition to negligence when deaths have occurred in their sci-fi quack programs.

    Narconon is not a medical program. Its staff has no bona fide medical qualifications. Sales staff are trained to manipulate the dynamics of a family in crisis, and are paid thousands of dollars per patient enrolled. Despite a similar name, Narconon has no links to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous whatsoever.

    Communities, elected officials, schools, and even police departments should be on the lookout for Narconon and other Scientology front groups, seeking to recruit new members and sources of income for what the German government has deemed a corporate cult with fascist objectives. We should listen to the warnings of actress Leah Remini and if Scientology comes knocking, “Just Say No” and ask “How’s Xenu?”

    Want to learn more about the cult’s space alien beliefs without paying or heaven forbid, joining? Check out and you can do so. The “Church” of Scientology denies the existence of Space Lord Xenu in their beliefs at times, yet has claimed copyright ownership over such materials. The documents on WikiLeaks would cost a total of at least $250,000 to $350,000 to buy through a Scientology program. Also watch out for their “Free Personality Test” tables in public places.

    I urge the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and county prosecutors to open criminal investigations into Narconon, for fraud and unlicensed practice of medicine.

    Rev. Dr. Eric Hafner
    Toms River

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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    This was published in Volume 19 Number 1 of the Marburg Journal of Religion, which Wikipedia describes as "a peer-reviewed online academic journal that publishes articles on empirical and theoretical studies of religion."

    Narconon, Scientology, and the Battle for Legitimacy

    By Stephen A. Kent


    This article provides an historical description and analysis of Scientology’s controversial drug treatment program, Narconon. Following scholarship by sociologist Terra Manca on Scientology’s pseudo-medicine, I argue that Scientology initially wavered about acknowledging its program to be part of its ‘religion,’ but eventually dropped this claim as it attempted to get Narconon programs and teachings established in communities. I show, however, the intimate association between Scientology and Narconon courses, and present some of the evidence that the program lacks scientific validity - especially its Purification Rundown.

    More at
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  8. Incredulicide Member

    subjects:recruitment,deceit,medical claims,detox,Purification Rundown,pseudoscience,Guardians Office,cost,anti-psychiatry,secrecy,Field Staff Member,IRS,lawsuit,National Association of Forensic Counselors

    front-groups:Narconon,Association for Better Living and Education,ABLE,Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education,FASE,Church of the New Faith

    places:Latin America,Europe,Russia,the Ukraine,Turkey,Nepal,Australia,Phoenix,Arizona,Hawaii,Vacaville,California,Boston,Long Island,Delaware,Ontario,British Columbia,Canada,Los Angeles,Mexico,Palo Alto,Detroit,Michigan,Minnesota,Minneapolis,Newport Beach,Nevada,Pacific Coast,Oklahoma,Philadelphia,Boise,Seattle,Toronto,Sacramento,Miami,Villa Victoria,Ojai,Atlanta,Georgia,Heathfield,Indiana,Florida,Colorado,Texas,Virginia

    people:Kirstie Alley,William Benitez,Arthur Maren,Mark Jones,John Elliot,John Burns,Robert Vaughn Young,Frank Gerbode,Brendon Moore,Lorna Levett,Nate Jessop,Larry Trahant,Gene Denk,Megan Shields,Steven Burton,David Schnare,Steven Heard,Jack Dirman,Michael Wisner,John Brodie,Cathy Lee Crosby,John Travolta,Kelly Preston,Greg Mitchell,Jenna Elfman,David Love
  9. The Wrong Guy Member

  10. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology trying to salvage its derelict Narconon flagship as new training center

    By Rod Keller, December 26, 2017


    Scientology has launched an initiative known as the Narconon Arrowhead Expansion Project to revitalize the site. The facility in Canadian, Oklahoma is promoted as the “Flagship Narconon,” much like Flag Land Base in Clearwater is the primary center for completing the OT levels. The facility has fallen on hard times since the death of several patients there and the accompanying lawsuits. A source close to the facility tells us there were recently 10 patients in the program, although the building is designed to hold 200.

    This news prompted us to take a look at the program, where it is succeeding and where it has failed.


    Despite hard times for the Flagship Narconon at Arrowhead, numerous facility defections and closures, the Narconon network is maintaining operations, particularly in Europe. Newly opened Scientology “Ideal Orgs” and Continental Narconons are instructed to foster the founding of new facilities, and we can expect new attempts to open Narconons in Canada, South Africa and Australia. One source tells us of a plan to open a Narconon Ireland, but the lack of detail tells us this is not imminent.

    More at
  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    Western World Insurance wins dispute over Scientology-based rehab operation

    By Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance, January 12, 2018


    A federal district court has largely ruled in favor of Western World Insurance Company in a dispute with an insurer that provides coverage for nonprofits, in a dispute as to whether it is obligated to provide defense costs for a Church of Scientology-affiliated drug rehabilitation operation.

    The issue in the litigation in Western World Insurance Company v. Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California is which insurer must provide the defense in two lawsuits filed against Los Angeles-based Narconon International, which oversees a Scientology-based treatment program implemented by local state affiliates, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in San Jose.

    The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of Patrick Desmond, who was a patient at Narconon affiliate Narconon of Georgia. In June 2008, after consuming alcohol provided by Narconon staff at a staff member’s apartment, Mr. Desmond left with two former patients to purchase heroin and died early the next morning from a heroin overdose, according to the ruling. Mr. Desmond’s family sued Narconon of Georgia and Narconon International for claims including negligence.

    The second lawsuit was brought on behalf of Heather Landmeier, who was a patient at Narconon of Oklahoma. Litigation in the case alleges that employees provided drugs and alcohol to Ms. Landmeier and allowed her to enter into sexual relationships with staff members.

    In March 2008, Narconon of Oklahoma forced Ms. Landmeier to leave the facility, and a day later she overdosed on heroin and OxyContin, leaving her in a vegetative state paralyzed from the neck down. A lawsuit filed by her family also claimed negligence, among other charges.

    Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey-based Western World and Santa Cruz, California-based Nonprofits Insurance provided overlapping insurance coverage to Narconon International.

    NIAC’s policy had commercial general liability, liquor liability and improper sexual conduct coverage forms. The CGL coverage form also included an exclusion for bodily injury due to the “failure to render any professional service.”

    The NIAC refused to provide a defense to Narconon, and Western World filed suit in the District Court seeking summary judgment on NIAC’s duty to defend.

    In the Desmond case, the parties disagreed as to whether Mr. Desmond’s death was caused by an “occurrence,” said the ruling. The ruling held that it was.

    “The neglectful provision of alcohol to and deficient supervision of a patient in rehab leading to the patient’s unexpected death constitute an ‘occurrence’ or ‘accident,’ ” said the ruling.

    “NIAC improperly refused to defend on the ground that there was no ‘occurrence’ triggering policy coverage,” the ruling said.

    The ruling also held NIAC was obligated to provide a defense in both cases under the professional service exclusion and, in Ms. Landmeier’s case, the improper sexual conduct form.

    The court ruled in favor of NIAC with respect to the liquor liability coverage form because, it said, the situations in the lawsuits did not involve providing alcohol in a business or formal setting.

  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology-connected real estate co. given 12th extension in case against Frederick County

    By Cameron Dodd, Frederick News Post


    A Church of Scientology-connected company seeking to operate an addiction-treatment facility near Thurmont has been granted an extension from filing a court memorandum for the twelfth time.

    Social Betterment Properties International (SBPI), a company acting as a real estate arm of the Church of Scientology, is seeking judicial review of a 2015 Frederick County Council decision regarding its Trout Run property. Since August of 2016, SBPI has successfully extended its deadline to file a memorandum of support for its petition for judicial review.

    SBPI bought Trout Run in 2013 with the intention that Narconon, a Scientology-affiliated drug-treatment program, would operate on the 40-acre Catoctin Mountain camp. Frederick County "resource conservation" zoning ordinances, however, prohibited such use of the property.

    SBPI sought a historical designation from the county, which would allow them an exemption to the zoning restriction. The county council voted 6-1 against the designation.

    In October 2015, SBPI filed for judicial review of the case, alleging religious discrimination based on the company's and Narconon's connections to the Church of Scientology. Narconon is a controversial drug-treatment program based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

    Attorneys for SBPI requested records pertaining to the county council's decision making process, and in September 2016, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge Scott Rolle ordered the county to turn over more than three dozen records the county originally withheld.

    SBPI's first memorandum of support for the petition for judicial review was originally due on Aug. 2, 2016. The company requested an extension to allow time for several pending procedural motions and the information request issue to be resolved, according to court documents.

    A judge extended the deadline to Sept. 29, 2016. SBPI has been granted extensions almost monthly through the end of 2016 and throughout 2017. On Jan. 12, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge Theresa M. Adams granted SBPI's twelfth motion to extend the deadline again.

    Frederick attorney Bruce Dean, one of the lawyers representing SBPI, declined to comment on why the company has prolonged the filing deadline.

    "I can’t divulge our strategy and what’s going on," Dean said. "There are things going on, but I can’t really talk about it."

    Source, with open comments:
  13. The Wrong Guy Member

    County, Scientology-connected real estate firm close to use settlement on Trout Run

    By Cameron Dodd, Frederick News Post


    Frederick County and a real estate firm affiliated with the Church of Scientology are close to settling a lawsuit over a proposed drug treatment facility on Catoctin Mountain.

    Attorneys for the county and Social Betterment Properties International, the real estate arm of the Church of Scientology, have negotiated a full settlement, according to documents filed Thursday in Frederick County Circuit Court. The county and SBPI have requested that the lawsuit be stayed, or placed on hold, by the court while the settlement is finalized.

    “We’ve had discussions with them and hope to reach an amicable settlement to the litigation,” County Attorney John Mathias said.

    SBPI purchased the 40-acre Trout Run property in 2013. The Church of Scientology intended for its Narconon drug treatment program to operate a rehabilitation center at the Catoctin Mountain camp.
    Running such a center is not allowed at Trout Run under the county’s resource conservation zoning ordinance.

    In 2015, the Frederick County Council voted against adding the property to the county’s Register of Historic Places, a designation that would have exempted Trout Run from its zoning restrictions.

    The Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission had approved adding Trout Run to the register before the council’s vote. The Frederick County Board of Zoning Appeals also approved the treatment center plan.

    In July 2015, following the council’s decision not to add the property to the historic register, SBPI filed a petition for judicial review in Frederick County Circuit Court. The real estate company alleged the council’s decision was motivated by religious bias against Scientology.

    The efficacy and safety of Narconon’s treatment methods have long been a target of scrutiny and added a layer of controversy to SBPI’s designs for Trout Run.

    Narconon’s program is based on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology prohibits its adherents from seeing psychiatrists or psychologists. Critics and former clients of Narconon say its treatment method amounts to quitting drugs “cold turkey” utilizing exercise, vitamins and saunas.

    In 2015, former Narconon staff member and client David E. Love spoke at a meeting of the Frederick County group No Narconon at Trout Run. Narconon’s program is based on pseudoscience and does not rely on doctors, nurses, therapists or counselors, according to Love.

    From 2009 to 2012, four clients at an Oklahoma Narconon facility died, The Oklahoman reported.
    Frederick County has maintained that the council questioned the applicability of the historic place designation for Trout Run from the beginning.

    In September 2016, Judge Scott Rolle ordered Frederick County to release 39 records related to the council’s vote.

    Between August 2016 and January of this year, Frederick County Circuit Court judges extended SBPI’s deadline for filing a memorandum in support of its petition for judicial review 12 separate times.

    The most recent deadline to file the memorandum was Feb. 15. The day before, attorneys for SBPI filed a 13th motion for extension, requesting a new deadline of April 16.

    The motion was denied by Frederick County Circuit Judge Theresa M. Adams on Feb. 14.

    Attorneys for both sides of the case notified the court Thursday that they had reached an agreement and were close to finalizing a settlement.

    County officials told The News-Post they could not release the settlement before it is finalized. Frederick attorney Bruce Dean, who represents SBPI, was unable to comment on details of the agreement.

    ”We’re working on it and look forward to being finished with this ongoing litigation,” Dean said.
    County officials expect the final agreement to be finished soon, Frederick County spokeswoman Vivian Laxton said.

    Source, with open comments:
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  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    In Hollywood and in Italy, Scientology is making all your dreams come true!

    By Rod Keller, The Underground Bunker, May 6, 2018


    We previously reported that Scientology is opening a new Narconon drug and alcohol rehab facility in Osnago, Italy.


    The opening brings the number of Narconons operating in Southern Europe to 10, including one each in Turkey, Egypt and the Republic of Macedonia. Unlike with the planned Narconon Ireland, there is no local opposition to any of these facilities. Despite the closures in recent years of facilities in Georgia, Placerville and Trois-Rivières, Narconon is expanding with recently opened locations in the U.K., Denmark, Florida, California, Mexico, Italy and Turkey.

    More at
  15. DeathHamster Member

    The Placerville location is still licensed by California.

    The claim that it closed came from an unnamed former Narconon official.

    Narconon is dead, long live Narconon! How Scientology solved its drug rehab addiction November 10, 2015, Tony Ortega, Underground Bunker
    The other problem is that they're still doing Narconon according to recent report.
  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    How to get fired from a Scientology job the easy way — a real-world example

    By Tony Ortega, June 12, 2018


    We heard recently from a young man who talked himself out of a job at a Scientology drug rehab in May, and we thought you’d want to hear about it.

    Our tipster — we’ll call him Peter — enrolled in a Narconon center (we’re not going to say where) to help him get rid of a drug problem. Peter was not an uneducated young man, and he says the Scientology drills that he was put through during his drying out at the rehab were “the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, honestly.”

    But Scientology is very clever about how it staffs its rehabs — it knows that when its “students” come out of the program they may be faced with a challenge getting back into society and finding a job. So Narconon offers its graduates work, and it can be pretty hard to turn down, even though it’s low-paying and involves drilling other people in those same Scientology rituals.

    Peter decided he would take a job at the rehab, but first he was asked to attend a Dianetics seminar.

    “I was pushed to do it since I was training to take over the executive director position at [the rehab location],” he says. But as soon as he began to take part in the seminar, he became angry.

    His college degree is in psychology, and he was offended by what Dianetics was peddling — a discredited version of psychoanalysis. “They told me that through dianetic auditing they could cure me of my allergies to bees and strawberries,” he says. “I of course laughed in their faces and told them they were bat shit crazy to believe that, and to believe that by closing your eyes and getting asked simple questions, you could go into a past life thousands of years ago and remember everything from a traumatic event.”

    We picked up right away on those words — “of course” — because based on the many people we’ve talked to over the years, the opposite reaction usually happens. Even rational, intelligent, and well educated people tend not to scoff so outwardly, but will keep their concerns to themselves even if they do harbor doubts.

    Peter says by being so verbal and up front with his criticisms, he was told by the local church that he was being “suppressive.”

    “It got back to my corporate office that I was labeled a Suppressive Person,” he says. “Corporate…had the executive director gather reports from other staff members and interns about me bad-mouthing Dianetics and Scientology.”

    A day later, Peter was let go from his Narconon, given a letter from corporate saying it was for reasons of — get this — “downsizing.”

    “I know of seven employees hired after me who were not let go. I’m sure you have gathered that the real reason for my termination was because of my views on Scientology,” he says.

    Continued at
  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology rehabs are hiring — if you don’t care about money or a decent place to live

    By Rod Keller, September 3, 2018


    Narconon is hiring and the good news for those in need of work is that you don’t need any experience to work there. The bad news is that you may not get paid. Training as an addiction counselor is actually counterproductive in Scientology’s drug rehab facilities since they operate only under the policies of L. Ron Hubbard and not accepted scientific and medical practices. The program consists of the Purification Rundown, which involves saunas, exercise and overdoses of vitamins, and a series of Scientology training routines involving staring and shouting at ashtrays.


    Addiction treatment staff from outside Narconon are unlikely to work under these conditions, so Narconon hires untrained Scientologists and addiction patients as soon as they complete the program. Narconon Suncoast opened in Clearwater, Florida in 2015. Clearwater is the home of Scientology’s Flag Land Base, which provides a pool of employees willing to work under the Narconon program. Narconon offers to train new employees at the facility while they work.


    Narconon Ojai in California is also hiring. It opened in 2015 and closed in 2017 after a wildfire damaged parts of the facility. It’s open again, and needs untrained workers. The facility is intended to serve as a “Celebrity Narconon” for addicts who want to get clean without alerting the press. The only patient we are aware of is Shay Carl Butler, a Youtube celebrity who filmed his return to Narconon after a relapse.


    Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma is always hiring. It’s intended to be the training facility for all other Narconons around the world, but in practice those facilities train their staff in-house. Most Narconons can’t afford to send their staff for Arrowhead training. The opportunity to live on a beautiful lake is less attractive to potential employees as it also involves living in a cabin rather than a house or apartment.


    But it’s perfect for graduating staff whose families may fear they will relapse in their addiction. Narconon facilities continue to hire untrained recovering addicts as interns and then staff members. Without the tools that a traditional rehab facility can provide a large percentage of staff members will continue to relapse.


    This explanation to Narconon’s recent staff recruiting efforts may lie with a lawsuit filed against the Arrowhead facility, and an investigation by the Oklahoma Department of Labor. Narconon is being sued and investigated for not paying some of its employees. We spoke to Jamie Adams, one of the plaintiffs against Narconon who tells us “That place is atrocious. The administration is pathetic. [They charge] $30,000 per ‘student’ (client), they received four new intakes three weeks before I left — that’s $120,000. But they can’t afford to do payroll or pay their phone bill apparently. Students eat ravioli from a can. It’s a mess.” At least at Arrowhead, Narconon may be recruiting because they lose staff when they fail to make payroll.

    More at
  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    A new Narconon in Mexico

    By Tony Ortega, September 11, 2018


    Scientology has opened another of its Narconon quack drug rehab clinics, this time in Puebla, and spearheaded by Diego Corona Cremean, the state of Puebla’s former Secretary of Infrastructure and Transportation.

    According to a press report, “The inaugural event was attended by different personalities such as the former rector of the BUAP, Enrique Agüera Ibáñez; the undersecretary of state health, José Antonio Martínez García; the businessman Rafael Moreno Valle Sánchez and the president of the local Congress, Carlos Martínez Amador.”

    Continued at
  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology going ‘Ideal’ with drug rehabs too, and will replace an ailing clinic

    By Tony Ortega, September 30, 2018


    For a couple of years we’ve been keeping an eye on the ailing Narconon rehab in the Netherlands, which has served only three patients in two years. Rod Keller tells us that Scientology has plans for a new clinic there.

    Continued at
  20. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology so desperate for Narconon patients, new offer drops all pretense of separation

    By Rod Keller, October 28, 2018


    Scientology makes it ambiguous how involved they are with Narconon in order to placate local officials and to attract customers who would be put off by the connection. It’s a false wall of separation between the church and the drug rehabs. They claim the same saunas, vitamins and training routines are religious in nature when done in a Scientology org, but non-religious when done at Narconon.

    More at
  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology hails study vindicating its rehab program — so we take a closer look

    By Tony Ortega, October 30, 2018


    Recently, one of our correspondents forwarded us a press release put out by Scientology’s drug rehab outfit, Narconon, which was boasting about a new study finally providing some scientific evidence to back up L. Ron Hubbard’s ideas about treating drug abuse.

    Our correspondent sounded crestfallen that Narconon had finally managed to get a peer-reviewed study published which seemed to confirm what Scientology has been saying all along about its cold-turkey, sauna-based treatment regimen.

    Well, hang on, we said. Let’s make sure someone who actually knows something about scientific studies gets a look at this. We turned to Carnegie Mellon University Professor Dave Touretzky, who has been keeping an eye on Narconon for far longer than we have, and who maintains extensive web pages about how Narconon really works. We’re glad we did, because Touretzky had plenty of questions about the study. We’ll let him take it from here.

    Continued at
  22. DeathHamster Member

  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Judges stays county, Scientology rehab litigation

    By Cameron Dodd, Frederick News Post


    Eight months after attorneys for the county and a Church of Scientology-affiliated real estate company told a local court they had nearly resolved a dispute over a proposed drug abuse treatment center, the parties are still negotiating.

    Circuit Court Judge Julia Martz-Fisher on Friday ordered a stay on a suit between Frederick County and Social Betterment Properties International, which purchased the 40-acre Trout Run property on Catoctin Mountain in 2013. The two parties have been in litigation since 2016 over SBPI's plan to allow the controversial Scientology-affiliated Narconon program to operate a drug abuse treatment center on the property.

    The Catoctin Mountain camp would need a historical designation to be exempt from zoning restrictions that prohibit such use of the property. The Frederick County Council voted against the designation in 2015.

    SBPI and the county filed a joint motion to stay the litigation in February. The motion stated they were close to finalizing a full settlement.

    The motion was approved Friday, but a settlement has not been reached yet, according to County Attorney John Mathias.

    An attorney for SBPI declined to comment.

  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Still no sentence for Long Beach drug-dealer: Merrill saunas while lawyers stall

    By Natalie St. John, Chinook Observer, January 15, 2019


    Last June, County Prosecutor Mark McClain got a call from a company that monitors court-ordered tracking devices. Robert “Tony” Merrill, addict, dealer, former Long Beach Go-Karts owner and one-time fugitive Cabo San Lucas resident, appeared to be barrelling down a highway in the California desert in a car he wasn’t supposed to have.

    At first, authorities thought he’d fled from the Scientology-affiliated rehab where he was receiving treatment and made a second run for the border. Police pursued him — to the lobby of another Scientology-run rehab.

    It was just one of several bizarre recent developments in Merrill’s ongoing case.

    Still no sentence

    In spring 2017, police raided Merrill’s downtown entertainment complex and found meth, heroin and pills, which he sold from an upstairs office.

    In the 20 months since, investigators linked Merrill to a stolen-gun-peddling-ring and charged him with 49 felonies, a legitimate businessman bought the Go-Kart biz for $1.6 million and gave it an extensive makeover, several of Merrill’s associates pleaded guilty and served sentences, Merrill’s parents helped him flee to Mexico, U.S. Marshals brought him back, the county was awarded much of his $250,000 forfeited bail bond, and two attorneys who were heavily involved in his case became superior court judges.

    Merrill entered the Scientology rehab, briefly landed in a San Diego County jail and went back to rehab.

    And in all that time, he still has not been sentenced.

    Costly vacation

    When Merrill’s parents bailed him out the first time, they guaranteed his return to court by pledging $250,000 of their own money. Court records now show that despite the tremendous financial risk, his parents likely helped him head south of the border and then hindered efforts to track him down. Robert and Eldora Merrill apparently made several Western Union money transfers to Cabo San Lucas while he was there. Some of the transfers were made from a grocery store near their attorney’s office. Merrill reportedly called his parents every two weeks — something they did not disclose to the sheriff’s office, or to the U.S. Marshalls who were hunting for their son. That decision cost the Merrills dearly.

    Merrill was apprehended in October 2017, about five months after he skipped bail. Under Washington law, bail bond companies can get their money back if the bail-jumper returns to court within a year, provided that they actively assist with efforts to apprehend the bail-jumper.

    However, McClain successfully argued that neither the bond company nor Merrill’s parents had helped to apprehend him. In December, a judge ruled that the county could keep part of the $250,000. The bail bond company collected its lost funds from the Merrills.

    Scientology rehab

    Shortly after his return to Washington, the court set Merrill’s new bail at $800,000. Robert and Eldora Merrill posted bail again. This time though, Merrill was ordered to wear a GPS anklet that would alert authorities if he left his parents’ home in Vancouver.

    In April 2018, he pleaded guilty to 10 felony charges, including drug delivery, operating a drug house, trafficking in stolen property, burglary and unlawful firearm possession. However, prosecutors agreed he could enter rehab while awaiting sentencing. His parents chose Fresh Start, a Warner Springs, California outpost of the Church of Scientology’s Narconon drug rehabilitation program, which has repeatedly come under fire for allegedly endangering patients with medically unsound practices and pressuring them to join the controversial religion.

    Vitamin bombs and saunas

    Narconon, not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous, is based on the philosophies of science fiction writer and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Treatment consists mostly of reading Scientology textbooks and participating in the “New Life Detoxification Program,” which involves vigorous exercise, taking “vitamin bombs” and large doses of niacin, and sitting in a 150- to 180-degree sauna to remove “deep-rooted drug residuals … in the body’s cells and tissues,” according to various Scientology publications. Because the church is vehemently opposed to psychiatry, patients do not receive psychiatric medications that conventional medical practitioners might prescribe to help with underlying mental-health disorders.

    Narconon claims to have a 76 percent recovery rate. In letter that urged the court to allow Merrill to remain at Narconon, a spokesman said Merrill’s sauna sessions would “fully remove all physical cravings from the body.”

    “Robert has been very cooperative and motivated towards her recovery,” the apparent form letter continued.

    Sweating it out

    Medical experts say there is no scientific basis for the “treatment.” Numerous doctors have said the high-vitamin doses and extreme heat could be deadly for people who have liver damage caused by substance abuse.

    Former patients allege Narconon programs, including Fresh Start, are staffed mainly by people who have recently completed the program. Narconon has been sued 245 times in federal courts. One 2014 lawsuit against Fresh Start alleged the patient was forced to spend hours each day doing bizarre activities that seemed unrelated to treating his addiction, including shouting at an ashtray.

    When Merrill appeared to be “escaping” last summer, it turned out Narconon was simply transporting him between facilities. No one had notified the court or GPS company. He was briefly arrested, then released back to the program.

    Merrill is reportedly still sweating it out in the desert.


    Over McClain’s objections, Merrill’s attorneys have managed to postpone sentencing several times, saying it would not be in his best interest to remove him from Fresh Start.

    Visiting Thurston County Judge James Dixon reportedly insisted Merrill be sentenced at a hearing scheduled for last Friday. However, it fell through because Merrill’s original attorney, David Mistachkin, was elected Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge in November.

    A public defender was briefly appointed to represent Merrill, but by last Friday, he had hired a new private attorney. That attorney said he had not had time to study Merrill’s case and asked for a delay and access to court documents. Further complicating matters, Don Richter, the former deputy prosecuting attorney who handled much of Merrill’s case, was recently appointed Pacific County Superior Court Judge.

    In the period since his recapture in Mexico, McClain said Merrill has thus far showed up in court for all of the hearings where he was required to be present. He is tentatively scheduled for sentencing in early February.

    Natalie St. John is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or

  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Former go-cart owner's wild ride is over: Merrill sentenced to six years for drug, gun deals | Chinook Observer


    The strange case of drug-and-gun-dealing amusement park owner, erstwhile fugitive and Scientology rehab patient Robert “Tony” Anthony Merrill, 53, is almost over.

    On Friday, Feb. 8, visiting Superior Court Judge James Dixon denied Merrill’s request to delay sentencing for a third time, and sentenced him to 72 months in a state prison.

    Continued at
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  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    Former go-kart owner's wild ride over: Merrill sentenced to six years for drug, gun deals | Chinook Observer


    The strange case of drug- and gun-dealing amusement park owner, erstwhile fugitive and Scientology rehab patient Robert “Tony” Anthony Merrill, 53, is almost over.

    On Friday, Feb. 8, visiting Superior Court Judge James Dixon denied Merrill’s request to delay sentencing for a third time, and sentenced him to six years in prison.

    Following spring 2017 raids on his home and his downtown Long Beach amusement complex, Merrill was arrested on numerous drug-related charges. Prosecutor Mark McClain added additional charges after investigators linked him to a stolen-gun-peddling ring, ultimately charging him with 49 felonies.

    Merrill skipped bail and fled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where United States marshals eventually captured him. In April 2018, Merrill pleaded guilty to 10 felony charges, including residential burglary, drug possession, running a drug house, bail jumping, trafficking in stolen property and rendering criminal assistance.

    Merrill’s parents bailed him out again and sent him to a Church of Scientology-run rehab in the California desert, where he spent much of the last few months sitting in a sauna for hours each day.

    His case was further complicated when his attorney was elected Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge and a Pacific County Deputy Prosecutor who had handled much of his case was appointed Pacific County Superior Court Judge.

    Now, only one of Merrill’s numerous accomplices, Jeffrey Walton, is still awaiting sentencing.

    ‘Lucky to be alive’

    At the conclusion of his hearing, Merrill read a statement to the court. He thanked his loved ones and lawyers and a corrections officer and acknowledged the police who busted him were “doing their job,” according to a press release from the prosecutor’s office. Merrill said he hopes he can turn his life around, and he planned to make the most of his time in prison by participating in college, job-training and volunteer programs.

    Finally, Merrill said some of his closest friends died as a result of their addictions, so he felt lucky to be alive.

    McClain was also relieved to see the case nearing its long-awaited conclusion.

    “I was thankful that the judge denied yet another continuance in this matter, as we had objected to these delays,” McClain said in the press release. “But in the end, having Mr. Merrill off the streets and in prison has made our community safer.”

    The price of justice

    According to court documents, the effort to bring Merrill back from Mexico cost thousands of dollars. In late January, McClain asked the court to use Merrill’s forfeited $250,000 bond to reimburse the county for almost $18,000. Expenses included $1,187.75 for the time Pacific County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ryan Tully spent trying to find Merrill, $13,976 for the cost of incarcerating a crucial witness who was a known flight-risk, $2,486.40 for the time McClain spent consulting with law enforcement and handling legal proceedings related to the search, and the costs of transporting Merrill from Lewis County to Pacific County when he was returned to the state.

    McClain said that amount only included expenses that could be readily quantified.

    The real cost to the county, he said, was likely much higher. His estimate did not include costs to the other state and federal agencies in the U.S. and Mexico that helped with the investigation. Forfeitures of that size are pretty rare: Most defendants return to court and don’t lose their bonds.

    That amount might seem like a major windfall, but Pacific County doesn’t get to keep all of it. Under state law, the county treasurer can reimburse the county for expenses related to the case.

    After that, 32 percent of the remaining money goes to the state treasurer, so the county’s gain would be a little under $158,000.

    McClain said some of that money was used to buy a new specialized case-management system for his office.

    “We are in the process of implementing the program now with a go-live date of the end of May,” McClain said.

  27. The Wrong Guy Member

    I thought this was newsworthy enough to share, and this thread was the closest one to being appropriate for it.

    From March 24, 2019:

    600 cities, counties and Native American tribes file federal lawsuit against Sackler family over opioid crisis | CNN


    More than 600 cities, counties and Native American tribes from 28 states have filed a federal lawsuit against eight members of the Sackler family -- owners of the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma LP -- accusing them of creating the opioid addiction crisis through ownership of the company that manufactures the painkiller OxyContin.

    Like other suits that have been filed, this one alleges the Sackler family made a fortune by using deceptive marketing to sell addictive and potentially deadly painkillers.

    "Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic," the suit says, then naming the eight defendants.

    "Because they controlled their own privately held drug company, the Sackler Defendants had the power to decide how addictive narcotics were sold. They got more patients on opioids, at higher doses, for longer, than ever before. They paid themselves billions of dollars. They are responsible for addiction, overdose, and death that damaged millions of lives. They should be held accountable now."

    The lawsuit does not specify the amount of monetary damages sought. The suits seeks a number of actions, including having the Sacklers issue "corrective advertising statements" in national and regional publications, medical journals, television shows and websites.

    The plaintiffs say they deserve compensation because the opioid crisis increased costs for law enforcement, child care for children of people addicted to opioids and physical and mental health treatment. The plaintiffs also say property values decreased in some areas because of the drug epidemic.

    Continued at

    From March 26, 2019:

    OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to pay over $200 million to settle historic Oklahoma opioid lawsuit | CNN


    Purdue Pharma has agreed to pay over $200 million to settle a historic lawsuit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general who accused the OxyContin maker of aggressively marketing the opioid painkiller and fueling a drug epidemic that left thousands dead in the state, a source familiar with the case tells CNN.

    The settlement which was first reported by Reuters, comes after Purdue fought the attorney general in court, seeking to delay the start of the trial, which is scheduled for May 28.

    The source would not say whether other drugmakers named in the suit would follow Purdue's lead.
    A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter declined to comment. The attorney general has planned a news conference for Tuesday afternoon in Tulsa.

    In an email Tuesday, Bob Josephson, Purdue Pharma executive director of communication said, "We are not commenting at this time."

    The suit was brought by Hunter against some of the nation's leading makers of opioid pain medications, alleging that deceptive marketing over the past decade fueled the epidemic in the state. Hunter has said the defendants -- Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan and others -- deceived the public into believing that opioids were safe for extended use.

    On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the drugmakers' appeal to delay the trial for 100 days.

    The drugmakers have denied the allegations and maintained their marketing was appropriate.

    Thirty-six states have brought cases against Purdue and other opioid drugmakers. Oklahoma was the first state set for trial, and court observers have been watching the case closely for precedent.

    The Oklahoma trial was set to be the first in the nation to go before a jury that could determine pharmaceutical companies' role in the nation's opioid epidemic and whether Big Pharma should pay for it.

  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab expansion plans DENIED in Maryland and Michigan

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, March 28, 2019


    Frederick County, Maryland officials tell the Underground Bunker that a court settlement has ended the efforts by a Scientology subsidiary to get a zoning change so that it could build a 16-bed Narconon drug rehab center at the Trout Run land parcel, a contentious battle that has been going on for four years. Researcher Mary McConnell cautions us, however, that Scientology may still be able to open a smaller, boutique rehab at the location.

    In Michigan, meanwhile, Anita Senkowski reports that a planning board voted 4-0 yesterday to deny a couple who wanted to open a Narconon rehab in their large home.

    Scientology has run into similar opposition to its Narconon expansion plans in Australia and Ireland after years of negative press and several patient deaths raised the profile of Scientology’s rehabs and its controversial way of treating patients. It’s had more success opening new drug rehabs in places like Mexico and Turkey.

    Continued at
  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    With lawsuit settled, Scientology-linked company will operate small rehab at Trout Run

    By Cameron Dodd, Frederick News Post, March 30, 2019


    Frederick County has settled a long-running lawsuit with a Church of Scientology-linked real estate company over plans to build a controversial drug rehabilitation center on Catoctin Mountain.

    Frederick County Circuit Court approved a joint motion March 20 to dismiss the case of Social Betterment Properties International v. Frederick County over the former’s plans for the Trout Run property, a 40-acre site near Thurmont. SBPI is now moving forward with plans for an eight-bed rehabilitation home based on Scientology teachings that would operate within the property’s long-standing zoning restrictions.

    The settlement agreement reached between SBPI and the county allows the company to “do what it’s been allowed or permitted to do all along, and nothing more,” county spokeswoman Vivian Laxton said in an email Wednesday.

    SBPI brought the suit over a 2015 Frederick County Council decision to deny a historic designation and zoning exemption for the Trout Run property on Catoctin Mountain. SBPI had purchased the 40-acre property in 2013 with the intention that the Scientology-based Narconon International rehabilitation program would open a 16-bed center there.

    That use was not approved under Trout Run’s resource conservation zoning and would have required the council to add the property to the county’s Register of Historic Places. Although the Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission recommended the designation, the council voted against it following a wave of public concern expressed during hearings.

    According to a history of Trout Run, gates were installed on the county road that runs through the property to create a private area for President Herbert Hoover to fish. At one of a number of public hearings in 2015 related to the request to get the designation added, SBPI argued that, among other things, the site was a “rare surviving example of an early twentieth-century private recreational camp.”

    Under the settlement agreement, Trout Run still doesn’t have the historic designation or any of the accompanying zoning exemptions.

    SBPI still plans for the Narconon program to operate at Trout Run, just on a smaller scale, according to attorney Bruce Dean.

    “My client, in the spirit of partnership with local government, has chosen to move forward with the operation of an eight-bed residential drug rehabilitation facility that will be operated by the Narconon organization,” Dean said Friday.

    Narconon is controversial for its approach to substance abuse treatment, which prohibits medically assisted treatment and psychiatric services in favor of aerobic exercise and long periods in a sauna.

    Former program staff and participants have called Narconon ineffective at best and traumatic and deadly at worst. At least four clients of the 200-bed Narconon facility in Arrowhead, Oklahoma, have died since 2009, according to The Oklahoman.

    Narconon, meanwhile, sees its service as a part of the solution to the ongoing national opioid addiction crisis.

    “We are pleased that we were able to come to an accommodation with Frederick County that will allow the proposed residential drug rehabilitation facility at Trout Run to contribute to the vital work of saving lives and repairing families,” Dean said.

    Court proceedings in the litigation against the county have been relatively inactive since 2016. Frederick County Circuit Court judges approved a dozen extensions of SBPI’s deadline to file a memorandum of support for their legal challenge to the county’s decision. In November, Judge Julia Martz-Fisher stayed the litigation to allow the settlement talks to continue.

  30. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology is staffing its Narconon in Ireland like it’s already won court approval

    By Rod Keller, The Underground Bunker, August 18, 2019


    Scientology isn’t waiting for official approval before recruiting staff for the planned Narconon Ireland facility in Ballivor, County Meath. We last reported on the planned Narconon Ireland in 2018 as neighbors were organizing to oppose the facility. Scientology has a permit for converting the old primary school to a nursing home and hoped to open a 34 bed drug rehab facility under that permit.

    Since then An Bord Pleanála, the national planning and appeals board, overturned the county’s decision to allow the facility. They wrote “The proposed use as a residential drug rehabilitation facility would be a factual change of use from use as a nursing home and such change of use would raise material planning considerations including different patterns of traffic, and pedestrian activity/movement, a different service to a different user group, including a population with a broader age profile and who are drug dependent and with limited interaction with the local community, and is, therefore a material change of use, and is development.”

    Scientology appealed the decision and the case goes before An Ard-Chúirt, the High Court on December 10th. In the meantime Scientology is finishing the construction work on the site. The building is furnished and almost ready to go.

    Continued at

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