1. I am over the age of 18 years.
2. The statements herein are of my own personal knowledge and if called upon as a witness, I can testify competently thereto.
3. My name is Maria Pia Gardini. I am an Italian citizen. The Flag Service Organization defrauded me of $1,000,000 while I was working on their staff as a highly trained Class IX auditor.
4. On the 21st of December, 1991, Tito Mazza, who was the Flag Service I/C [in charge] in Italy, and Marco Puggelli, who was a Flag FSM [field staff member], came to my home in Italy seeking a donation for a Class VIII project at Flag. Shortly after they arrived, Debbie Cook, the Commanding Officer for the Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida, called on the telephone concerning this same project. She told me the cost of executing the program was 2 million dollars U.S. and she wanted me to finance the entire project. I told her I would never give them 2 million dollars whereupon she said she knew I would inherit a large sum of money from my mother's death just 10 days before and felt I should give them the money. I continued to say no and asked them to leave. They would not but stayed and continued badgering me. Finally, one of them took me into a side room and told me if I just gave them a check to prove to the Captain of Flag that I was a good scientologist they would leave. They repeatedly told me I should be a good scientologist and give them the money. I was also at this time very vulnerable. My daughter had died one year before and my mother had now died 10 days before. I was alone in the world. I finally gave them a check for $30,000 and they left. At that point I told them not to return asking me for money.
5. The morning after, my maid came into my bedroom and told me there were two people sleeping in a car in my garden. I got dressed and went to see who it was. There I found two sea org members whom I recognized as working for Flag and the Flag Ship Service Org. When I approached the car to tell them they could not come into my garden in the middle of the night, they got out of the car and asked me for coffee. I took them into the house and gave them coffee. They then fell asleep in my home. Around ten o'clock, I received a phone call from Debbie Cook, who told me I had not given enough money and I needed to give more to the two staff members at my home. She went on and on about the project needing my help, that Italy was really down and it could be the first Clear country etc. Finally, I gave another $50,000.
6. In Spring of 1992, I returned to Flag. The day after I arrived, I went back to work as an auditor in the Sand Castle hotel. That afternoon, at 2:00 p.m., I was called by Captain Debbie Cook to go to the registrar area in the Fort Harrison hotel. I am sure this day was Wednesday. When I arrived Captain Cook was sitting in a small, back room accompanied by Piers Almquist and a CMO messenger. I was directed to go into the room and the door was closed behind me.
7. After the door was closed, Debbie Cook said to me "We want to know how we can help you in your inheritance cycle." This was to speed up my receiving the inheritance. I told her I had my family lawyer and other professionals taking care of things and that I needed Italian professionals taking care of it, not Americans. She said they knew I had a beautiful villa and other nice things and that I really needed to help with the Italian Class VIIII project. I told her I could not give any more money; my money was in Italy and my banker would need my signature. She told me they would arrange for scientologists in America and Italy to loan me money, then I could return to Italy later and get the money to pay them back. She also wanted me to call my banker right then and find out how much money I could take out of Italy at that moment.
8. At this point, I didn't know what to do. I told her it was too late in Italy for me to call the bank and I would call in the morning and talk to my banker to see how much money I had in my accounts. Upon this promise of mine to call my banker in Italy, they let me leave the room. I then returned to work.
9. The next morning at 8:00 a.m. I was preparing for work when I was told not to start working but to return to the Fort Harrison. I did this, and when I arrived at the Fort Harrison I was directed to the same little room. Inside waiting for me were the following people:
|Debbie Cook -- Captain
Piers Almquist - a registrar
David Foster - a registrar
Pilar Saldiariagga - Commodores Messenger
John Lundeen -- Supervisor of the registrars
Chiara Staples - my FSM
10. Chiara had been called in and asked to lend me money. She had $50,000 in cash in a bag and told me she would loan me the money if I promised to pay her back as soon as I returned to Italy and received my inheritance. Under pressure, I agreed to do this. Almost immediately, Dave Foster told me that this amount was not enough.
11. Debbie Cook then had an idea. She suggested that "Teresa", the wife of Gerald Bloom, who was a Class V C/S, could also lend me money. Teresa was called in and asked to loan me money. She also said she did not have money in the USA. Teresa was asked to call her mother in Switzerland to arrange to loan me $100,000. The money was eventually transferred from Switzerland to the Flag Accounts. I was praised and told to go back to work, which I did.
12. On the following Thursday morning, I was again called by Captain Cook and told to go to her office in the Coachman building. When I arrived she and John Lundeen and another staff member who was an MAA and was also Italian were waiting for me. It was before 9:00 a.m. and they wanted more money. They pushed and pushed me saying I must help Italy get the LRH materials. They asked me to call my bank in Italy and talk to the director to see how much money was available to me. I could not lie to him because they put the phone call on speakerphone and of course the other Italian staff member could understand what was being said. The bank director told me that I had just received money into my account from selling a large piece of real estate. I tried to tell the director that I needed that money for inheritance tax, but he told me I had more than enough to cover it. So they now knew I had money in my account. The Captain told me to ask how much I could have sent to the United States without my signature. He said if I faxed him my signature and a copy of my ID, I could have all the money I wanted. I wanted to kill this bank director, but of course he didn't know what was going on.
13. At this point, I ended up transferring $300,000 to the Flag Land Base. I was very upset by this transaction and by the fact that I was then highly commended at the staff meeting for having donated so much. The whole staff clapped for me, however I felt terrible and promised myself that this was it. I would give no more money. I was also given other benefits due to this contribution. For example I had been asking for a lighter schedule for months due to a heart condition. Regular Flag staff hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. It was not until after I had made this contribution that a lighter schedule was finally approved for me.
14. I then asked to return to Italy in order to see my attorneys and finalize my inheritance and to visit my granddaughter. I requested a leave of absence. I was told that it was okay to leave, but before I left they wanted me to make my total donation one million dollars and asked for the balance to add to the previous donations. This was all for the Italian Class VIII translation of materials and to pay for people to come from Italy to Flag to train. Throughout the day I spoke with my seniors in the organization and begged to go back to Italy. I tried very hard to avoid the issue of money. This was in September.
15. One Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m., High Levy showed up at my home. He told me that I had to come right away to the Fort Harrison because they needed me. I arrived at the Fort Harrison and was taken downstairs. In a room awaiting me were Captain Cook and Dave Foster.
16. They told me that Tito Mazza (who was one of the first two men who came to my home in Italy) was on the phone from Italy. Tito told me that the Italian statistics were down and they really needed my money. He told me he had found someone who could lend me $200,000. He said he would go to the person in Italy and the two of them would call me back in America and we would do a conference call. He did this, going to the house of Franco Baggio, who happened to be one of my pcs. Mr. Baggio told me he could loan the $200,000, however, he needed to get it from the bank. He also told me he needed the loan paid off in one month. I did not agree to do this and the Captain and Dave Foster badgered and harassed me until I finally just hung up the phone.
17. At this point, somebody called the Captain out of the room, leaving just Dave Foster and me in the room. Mr. Foster started yelling at me, becoming as red as a lobster and getting so upset I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He wanted me to give the money. He told me I was not a good Scientologist; that my money was Wog money and needed to go to scientology; and that I was unethical. I kept refusing to give any more money. Finally, Dave Foster slapped me in the face. I began to cry.
18. The Captain FSO then returned to the room. I told her Dave Foster had slapped me. Dave Foster denied it. Captain FSO then immediately began asking me again for more money. They kept badgering me, insinuating that if I wanted to go home to Italy, I had better give the money. Soon, I was an emotional mess. I wanted out of that room and to go home to Italy. It was apparent to me that neither would happen if I did not agree: so, I finally agreed to give them whatever money they wanted. At that point they again called Franco Baggio and I told him to give the money. Franco then wrote a check and gave it to Tito Mazza, who took the check to Luxembourg and put it into a Flag account there. Only after this did they let me out of the room. I then returned to work.
19. I now wanted to leave for Italy, but OSA was holding my passport and though I had asked for its return every night for twenty days, they would not give it to me. I finally went to the Captain FSO at the end of October. I begged to be able to return to Italy so I could get the money to pay everybody back. Also during this time I was sick with worry because they had told me they wanted one million dollars and they hadn't yet gotten that out of me. So every Thursday I was terrified that I would again be called in and forced to give more money.
20. The Captain finally ok'd the return of my passport. Soon after getting it, I was again called into a meeting in the Captain's Office in the Coachman building. The Captain told me to write a CSW to go to Italy and get it signed by all of my seniors and bring it back to Snr. Staff HCO and then to her. This was the end of October. At this time she asked me if I had any more money in the bank. I admitted that I did (lying to the Captain is an overt). She told me the stats were down and I needed to again contribute money. I was so anxious to get my CSW signed so I could leave, I again wrote a check for Flag. This was for $25,000 written on my account at 1st National Bank (Amsouth) in Clearwater.
21. After this, I tried and tried to get everyone to approve my CSW to go home to Italy. Towards the end of November, I received all necessary approvals. I finally left for Italy in early December.
22. When I arrived in Italy, my attorney told me that before the 12th of December I had to pay the inheritance taxes. I paid the taxes and then found that nothing was left in the bank. I decided I had to sell some property, as I was now virtually penniless.
23. I then called Mr. Baggio and told him that I was not able to repay his loan immediately. He was furious. I explained that I had given all of my money to Flag. He didn't care.
24. In January of 1993, I called Flag and told them that I couldn't return as I was broke and was trying to sell property. I spoke with Debbie Cook. Her suggestion was that I put the property in the name of Scientology America, and they would sell the property and pay back all of the loans I had taken to pay FSO. I told her this was not possible as the property was not fully in my name, but also in the name of my granddaughter, who was a minor, and another relative. Because my granddaughter was a minor, the court would represent her in any sale and put the money aside for her use.
25. Debbie then directed me to stay in Italy to sell the property, and while I was there to continue working for Flag as a "missionaire." She said I should audit people from my home. She would send the clients to me. She said there were a lot of Italian people in disagreement with Scientology who would not go into an org but would come to my home or I could go to theirs. So the people would pay Flag and I would audit them in Italy. Of course, I got paid nothing to do this work.
26. I now began to sell my art and antiques just to survive until I finally sold the property. I was then able to repay all the money borrowed on my behalf. Franco Baggio charged me 22% interest on the money. This had never been discussed or agreed to between us.
27. As soon as I paid Mr. Baggio, I received a call from Captain FSO. She said she knew I had sold my property. She called me directly because I had previously screamed into the phone at another staff member, saying I was sick of getting calls from Flag and to leave me alone. Debbie Cook asked me at this time to pay the balance of the $1 million she wanted. I refused. She then told me I had to return to Flag. I said I could not. I reminded her I was doing all sorts of auditing in Italy. She insisted I return to Flag. I still refused.
28. About two weeks later I was in Milano to audit some OT VII's. At this time I was mentally a mess. My mother had died, my daughter had died, my cousin had committed suicide, I had given all of my money to Flag and my families business had lost all of its assets. While I was in Milano, Tito Mazza and John Lundeen bothered me about making further donations. I finally broke down and wrote a check for the balance to make up $1 million. At this point, I had paid a total of one million dollars to Flag and $40,000 to Franco Baggio for interest.
29. Debbie Cook then called again to tell me I had not yet made one million dollars. Per their account it was only $960,000. I told her by my count it was one million forty thousand. That was it. I refused to give any more.
30. At this time, my family began expressing concern for my mental state, saying they believed I was crazy for throwing away all of my money to Scientology. One relative was trying to convince my attorneys that I was completely insane. This created a great deal of difficulty for me. At this time I decided to never return to work at Flag. My life was a living hell.
31. I called Debbie Cook and told her I was not coming back to work. Three days later, John Lundeen arrived at my home with Chiara. These two insisted I pay the remainder of money to make my donation for one million. This was insane. I could stand it no more. I told them to take any money they wanted, I didn't care. My nerves were gone at this point. I was totally broken. I gave them another $50,000.
32. As far as leaving staff, I wanted to do it properly per the policies of the FSO. So I returned in January or February of 1994 to route out. I expected this to take about one week. It took two months. This organization did a Board of Investigation on me because I wanted to leave staff. The result of this action was that I was not qualified for the Sea Org. Therefore, they now kicked me out. After all of the money I had given them and all of the auditing I had done and my high training, I was found not qualified.
33. Also, while I was doing this routing out, I noticed that there was not one Italian in the Class VIII classroom studying. This is what I had paid the one million for. I had been told that my donations were for Italians, yet in the course room were all kinds of people but Italians. I went to Debbie Cook and told her she had lied to me. I said right then that I wanted all of my money back. Debbie responded that they were at that point in time translating the material into Italian so my money could be used to "free Italians." Two years later, materials were still not translated into Italian.
34. When I finally returned to Italy, I found my situation was terrible. My attorney told me to sell the family villa. All the money was gone and I could no longer afford it. I sold the villa and gave some of this money to my granddaughter and about half a million to my son-in-law.
35. At the end of 1994, I returned to Clearwater to sell a condo I owned in Island Estates. At that time I went to the Fort Harrison to visit Chiara. When I walked in, a registrar for the Super Power project, Charmaigne, and another registrar for special properties grabbed me and sat me down. They asked me for money. I said no but they would not let me leave. I was at this point completely unable to deal with these demands for money, even though I knew it was harming me. I gave $20,000 to Charmaigne for super power project. I then went to Chiara's house and hid out.
36. After I sold my condo, I went to Amsouth bank to get some money. When I came out of the bank two officers from Scientology Special Properties in Los Angeles were waiting for me. They wanted money to help put LRH materials into titanium so it could be preserved for eternity. They asked me to come to the top floor of the Fort Harrison to see the new special properties. I just wanted to go to Italy, now. I had my ticket in my pocket. I still had to empty my condo and get out. I asked them to leave me be. I told them to leave me alone or I would die here in America. But they said, "Let's go" and escorted me to the Fort Harrison where they badgered me for the money. Again, I lost my will and just wrote them a check. I gave them $25,000 from the condo sale.
37. After this, I went to the bank, emptied the account and I left for home. While I was at the airport in Miami awaiting my connecting flight to Milan, I sat in the VIP waiting room having a coffee. I received a call. I was told there was someone crying on the phone. Immediately I worried that it was my granddaughter and something was wrong at home.
38. The person crying on the phone was Chiara at Flag. She told me that Charmaigne had her locked in a room and was badgering her, telling her she had to give them $100,000 in my name for the superpower project. They wouldn't believe Chiara when she told them I was already gone. They told her to prove it, and thus Chiara was calling me. I then had to verify for Charmaigne over the phone that I was indeed in Miami.
39. Charmaigne at once told me to return to Flag. I told her no. Finally, I was yelling into the phone. I told her I could give her not one penny more and that if Chiara gave her the $100,000 I would not pay it back, but Charmaigne would have to repay it herself.
40. I returned to Italy. My life was very difficult now. I had little money and again had to sell property to pay my daily expenses.
41. In early 1995, I called Debbie Cook. I told her that now I needed help from her. I was an OT VIII class IX auditor who had given over one million dollars to Scientology. I never spoke to Debbie. Never once would she come on the phone to speak to me.
42. Now, I started to write to her. I also started writing CLO and phoning OSA in Italy and asking for my money back. I wrote and called many times saying I wanted all one million. I was ignored. I then decided to go to court.
43. My family attorney wrote to the CLO Italy. The response was for Flag to send Ellen Almquist to me in Italy to audit me. I refused to be audited. For three days she stayed at my home and tried to get me into session. I would not go. She finally went away. Shortly thereafter, they sent another auditor, one whom I was very fond of and with whom I had previously worked. I still refused. In fact, when he prepared a room to audit me, I took a bottle of whisky in with me and said, "Ok. I am ready to audit." He soon left.
44. In 1994 Debbie Cook bought a new, $40,000 car. She told me it was her FSM commission as she was the FSM on my cycle. This is against the policies of Scientology as far as I know. In fact, everyone who worked on this gathering of the $1 million took commissions from this.
45. During this time, I started drinking too much, just to forget all that I had been through. Now, the CLO wrote to my attorney and said I had to get my money back from Flag, not them. My attorney then told me I could sue them from Italy. When Flag found out that I was suing, they started looking into my financial situation. At this point, I wanted ALL money I had given to Flag. So, I called their attorney in Rome. They proposed a meeting with my attorney to come to some form of agreement.
46. Their attorney set the time of the meeting one day before a sale at my home to raise money. They had gone to a public registry and obtained information on my financial situation.
47. At this meeting in Rome in their attorney's office was myself, a person from CLO Italy, my attorney, the daughter of their attorney, a woman from OSA Flag and a staff member from Roma Org. For the whole afternoon we discussed the situation. In the end, the woman from OSA told me they knew I was in a terrible financial bind and she offered me a check for 250 million lira ($180,000). She said either I agree or I will get nothing. She spoke in English and my attorney could not understand this. I was really at the point of losing the last of what I had. I asked the woman if I took the money, would I still be in good standing with the church. She said yes. I didn't want to go back, but I also didn't want them all against me. I felt they were dangerous people. I also told her I still had $29,000 in my account at Flag and I wanted that returned. She said I would still be able to get that returned per the church policy.
48. I then accepted the check. We agreed that I would then receive two more checks in the same amount. I signed an agreement, which was in English. I asked for a copy. They said it had to go to Flag and they would send my copy with the second payment. They never sent it and I have still never received a copy.
49. When the third payment arrived, it was for 240 million, not 250. I asked where are the other ten million liras. Their attorney said it had been given to my attorney.
50. Now, after I had received this money for repayment of half of what I had given for the Class VIII Italian project, I decided to get the money left on account at Flag. I called FSO and asked to come back. I was told that I could not return to Flag. I was not in good standing with the church. I soon also received a letter from the Ship saying I was a "refund." I have never yet received a refund from the Ship Org.
51. I have been cheated by this organization. I want my money on accounts refunded; I want my money donated to the Super Power project returned to me. I want the other $500,000 returned to me. I have written them and they are not willing to help me. They in fact have told me that am trying to extort money from them. My attorney in Italy did say that the agreement had no legal standing in Italy.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America and the state of Florida that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed in Clearwater, Florida this 19th day of January 2001.
Maria Pia Gardini