A trial date has been set for 25 May 2009
By Lilly von Marcab
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (RushPRnews) 01/30/09 – By now, most people have learned that the nation of France has decided to prosecute Scientology’s French organization, along with seven of its top managers, on fraud and drugs charges. This latest case centers on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into Scientology by a group of people she met outside a metro station.Â In the following months, she said she paid 140,000 francs (21,340 euros) for “purification packs” and books that made all kinds of extravagant and fraudulent claims. Other complaints then surfaced, extending the investigation.
Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ruled that the Scientologists’ “Celebrity Centre,” bookstore and seven top managers should be tried for fraud and “illegally practicing as pharmacists.” A trial date has been set for 25 May 2009.
News articles about the case usually mention that Scientology was fined and threatened with dissolution for violating privacy laws there in 2002; sometimes they mention that Scientology officials were convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and in Marseille in 1999. Surprisingly, however, the fraud conviction of the organization’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, on fraud charges in 1978, does not seem to be mentioned in any of the English-language reports.
After a seven-year public inquiry and a lengthy trial, the Paris Tribunal found four top Scientologists, including Hubbard, guilty of making fraudulent claims that physical cures and professional success could be achieved through Scientology. Hubbard, who did not attend the trial, and had already fled the country, was sentenced to four years imprisonment.
The judge concluded that the facts and statements by the witnesses were “ample proof” of the veracity of the charge.
Quoting Hubbard’s own words, the judge found that Scientology made false promises with the sole aim of “increasing the financial revenue.”
An article from the Catholic Sentinel reports that “the court examined evidence of large profits made by an organization which declares itself to be non-profit, the psycho-therapeutic nature of a treatment dispensed by people with no medical qualifications, and the claim made by Scientology to be capable of curing some 70 percent of human illnesses,”1 such as radioactive burn from the effects of an atomic bomb, etc.
Hubbard never served his prison sentence because he was essentially on the run from the law, sailing in the Caribbean on his yacht Apollo, trying to avoid not only French authorities but the US authorities as well. In 1978, the US Federal Government was preparing for the trial of Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue, and numerous other Scientology officials, on conspiracy and burglary charges. Hubbard, along with Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon, were named as “unindicted co-conspirators” in that case.2 This means the federal prosecutors were very sure they were involved, but couldn’t quite generate the evidence for a sure conviction. Mary Sue and the others ended up serving several years in federal prison. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service had evidence that Hubbard was taking millions of dollars “off the top” of Scientology profits, and hiding it in overseas banks.3
Hubbard never returned to France, and was banned from the United Kingdom because he would not discuss his conviction with British authorities. Although a French court later declared that his conviction could be resolved by coming to France and paying a fine, Hubbard never did so. Hubbard died in 1986 on his secluded California ranch.
1. Anonymous (17 March 1978). “Scientology Leaders Convicted of Fraud.” Catholic Sentinel
2. Robert W. Welkos; Joel Sappell (24 June 1990). “Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison“, Los Angeles Times
3. Richard Behar (6 May 1991). “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.” Time magazine