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Was church cheated or part of a larger plot?

Title: Was church cheated or part of a larger plot?
Date: Thursday, 29 May 1986
Publisher: Lawrence-Eagle-Tribune
Author: Paul Van Osdol
Main source: link (323 KiB)

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Four years ago, two men walked into a New York bank and tried to cash a $2 million check drawn on the Bank of New England account of L. Ron Hubbard, the head of the Church of Scientology.

The bank refused to cash the check after it could not verify the signature.

Since then, the church has been on the warpath to find out who forged their now-dead founder's check. It offered a $100,000 reward, bought full-page advertisements in the country's largest newspapers and hired a private Investigator.

Yesterday, two men were arrested by the FBI and charged with trying to bilk the church out of $100,000 in return for bogus Information about the check.

They are disbarred Lawrence attorney Harvey Brower and retired Methuen businessman George T. Kattar.

That's not the whole story, says a Boxford lawyer, who has been fighting the Scientologists in court for seven years and who at one point was accused of trying to steal the $2 million check.

"The church set the whole thing up," said attorney Michael J. Flynn.

Flynn said the church hired Kattar and Brower to help frame him in the check case.

"I didn't know anything about that," said Harry Manion, the Scientologists' national trial counsel.

"All I know is that Michael Flynn has used every resource at his command to try to obtain control for his clients of the Church of Scientology. He has initiated numerous suits. It's no secret the church and Michael Flynn are adversaries."

The FBI also refused to comment on Flynn's charges.

Flynn is well-known for his battles with the church.

The New York Times, Washington Post and Time, Newsweek and People magazines have all detailed his legal spars with Scientologists.

The church has tagged Flynn its number one enemy because of his victories in court, according to church documents in Flynn's possession.

Flynn's biggest victory came in 1984, when a California judge ruled that Hubbard was a "pathological liar" and that the church was a "massive fraud" that engaged in a "form of blackmail against its members."

The church counter-attacked. Church publications and advertisements have repeatedly accused Flynn of conspiring with federal authorities to attack Scientology.

A full-page ad in the Boston Herald March 1 offered a $75,000 reward for "information concerning the complicity and-or obstruction of justice" by U.S. Attorney William Weld, Flynn and other federal attorneys and investigators.

"The church is satisified that there is a complex web or construction and conspiracy involved in this entire affair," Manion said following yesterday's indictments.

"This indictment represents only the outer skin of a very strong-smelling onion which the church intends to peel until it is fully exposed."

Two years ago, the church's private investigator gave federal authorities an affidavit signed by a resident of the United Arab Emirates saying that he and Flynn collaborated to cash the forged check.

A federal grand jury in Boston Indicted Ala Tamini for perjury later that year and Tamini fled to Italy.

Tamini is now in a West German jail, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brackett Denniston. Tamini mailed Flynn a telegram in March saying the church's private eye had paid him to set up Flynn.

The investigator, Eugene M. Ingram, was fired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 1981 after being charged with pimping, pandering, conspiring to run a house of prostitution and protecting drug dealers. The charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

Flynn says that without Tamini, the church turned to a federal informant — and eventually Kattar and Brower — in an effort to discredit him.

According to Flynn and his lawyer, the federal informant was Larry Reservitz, who agreed to tape conversations with Kattar, Ingram and others for a lighter sentence on separate bank fraud schemes and drug trafficking. Reservitz taped 11 conversations with Kattar in 1984, Flynn said.

Reservitz met with Robert Kilborne, Flynn's attorney, several times last spring and explained the details of his conversations with Kattar and Ingram. Kilborne said he plans to use his statements in Flynn's suit -against the church filed in a Los Angeles court.

In yesterday's indictments, the U.S. attorney's office said Brower and Kattar tried to cheat the church out of money by giving them false information about the forged check scam. Kattar was sent to jail after being charged with threatening witnesses.