Federal suit: Scientologist spent $30 mil to cover death | News
Tampa, Florida -- Blockbuster charges in a Federal Suit involving the Church of Scientology. It involves accusations of impropriety and some of the most respected members of the judiciary and legal profession.
The allegations are coming from the former number-two man in the organization, and involve what he says is a multi-million dollar cover up of the death of a woman in Scientology care.
The woman at the center of it all is Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 after being involved in a minor traffic accident.
At the time of the accident, McPherson who was a Church of Scientology member, said she needed psychiatric help. Instead, the church members took her to the Ft. Harrison Hotel to care for her.
Just 17 days later, Lisa McPherson was dead.
McPherson's death spawned emotional protests near Scientology headquarters in Downtown Clearwater, a lawsuit from her family- as some charged they let her die and watched her die- and criminal prosecution from the Pinellas State Attorney's office.
The Church was charged with a second degree felony for practicing medicine without a license, and abuse of a disabled adult.
However, the charges were dropped after Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood changed the cause of death from unknown to accidental.
Marty Rathbun, the former number-two man in Scientology, alleges that the organization showered gifts on the Medical Examiner's attorney, Jeff Goodis, to influence her to change the cause of death.
See Rathbun's full testimony in the attached PDF.
Once that happened, the criminal case fell apart.
In addition, Rathbun says the Church hired another attorney, former prosecutor Lee Fugate, to have illegal Ex parte meetings with judges involved in the case.
Rathbun says,"Listen. Lee Fugate, his value was to schmooze. As a matter of fact, that's what David Miscavige and myself used to say. Let's get lee to schmooze; let's get Lee to schmooze."
In the suit, Rathbun contends the Church of Scientology spent at least $30 million to get the charges dropped, and mitigates the damages in the civil suit.
Jeff Goodis denies the charges and Attorney Lee Fugate says he can't comment on a federal suit, but it would be shocking to believe that some of Pinellas' top judges could be involved in illegal activity like this.
However Ken Dandar, the attorney who represented McPherson's family against the church, says, "Maybe Mr. Rathbun doesn't know what he is talking about, and maybe it's all his imagination. I don't think so..."
Dandar says the organization has come after him. He's says attorney Wally Pope and Judge Robert Beach have illegally claimed the settlement papers in the McPherson case.
Papers that included what's called a "practice restriction" so Dandar could never sue Scientology again.
Dandar adds," If what I've been told is correct, I will go after the people who have corrupted the system, and I will go after the members of the system that have been corrupted."
We couldn't reach Judge Robert Beach or many other of the Judges named in the lawsuit.
Attorney Wally Pope told us he wouldn't comment to the media and no one from the Church of Scientology returned our calls.
But, late Friday, Pope filed a lawsuit on behalf of Scientology to have all of Marty Rathbun's testimony thrown out.
There is an emergency in Federal Court Monday.