Count 7: The misuse of funds of the "Church of Scientology International," designated for charitable purposes, but used instead by the "Office of Special Affairs International" for private and legal expenses of Robert Cipriano and Michael Hurtado during the years 1998 through 2001.
This count circles around one man – Graham Berry, a former lawyer who lost his money, his property and finally the right to work as attorney due to his obsessive crusade against the Church of Scientology.
It all began in 1991 when Graham Berry was working for the law firm Lewis, D'Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard in Los Angeles. In this year he was retained as counsel for another attorney who was involved in litigation against the Church of Scientology, Joseph Yanny. Yanny had been sued by the Church of Scientology for breach of contract in 1988, after he had given up his brief and began representing Ex-Scientologists ("CSC et al vs. Joseph Yanny," Superior Court Los Angeles, No. C 690211 & BC 033035).
Berry successfully defended Yanny in that suit, which was dismissed on March 16th, 1993. Soon after, Berry was asked again to represent people who had been sued by Scientology, this time for libel.
In May 1991 a very critical article on Scientology appeared in Time-magazine: "Scientology – The Thriving Cult of Greed & Power" [Exh. No. 191]. In response to the article the Church of Scientology International (CSI), and its Office of Special Affairs launched a massive ad-campaign against Time [Exh. No. 192]. Additionally CSI initiated two federal lawsuits for libel soon after the publication of the article – one against Time ("CSI vs. Time Warner, Inc.," No. CV 92-3024 (PKL), U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York), and the other against two individuals and (future clients of Berry): Uwe Geertz & Steven Fishman ("CSI vs. Geertz & Fishman," No. CV 91-6246 (HLH), U. S. District Court for the Ninth District). Geertz and Fishman were featured in the article, and Fishman who had been a Scientologist, claimed of having been ordered by Scientology to kill his therapist, Mr. Geertz and then to commit "End of Cycle," which means suicide in the language of Scientology.
Berry was again successful in defending his clients, as CSI dismissed its suit in February 1994 after the court case had been in its pre-trial phase for two years.
At this point things between Berry and the Scientology lawyers Timothy Bowles and Kendrick Moxon had become rough. While the Scientologists did not appreciate Berry's aggressive approach towards plaintiff's deponents and his serving of subpoenas upon some Scientology celebrities, Berry was often complaining about Moxon's derogatory comments in court about his homosexuality.
After a final settlement attempt failed, in which Berry tried to reach an agreement with the Scientologists for clients he did not even represent [Exh. No. 193], the Office of Special Affairs commanded its well-tried private investigator, Eugene Ingram, to start a full-blown investigation into Berry's past and to try to dig up as much dirt as possible.
In New York, where Berry lived during the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, Ingram made a strike. Robert Cipriano a former business partner of Berry and himself in legal trouble with New Jersey authorities, was full convinced by Ingram's false LAPD-credentials and willing to supply him with negative information about Berry. The product of that collaboration was a declaration, signed on May 5th, 1994, that was, to say the least, unfavorable of Berry's past activities in New York [Exh. No. 194]:
" …4. Between May 1984 and February 1985 when I left New York City for Los Angeles, California, I had numerous contacts, conversations and observations of Mr. Berry and Mr. Spiegelman, I observed both men frequently abuse cocaine and both were practicing homosexuals who admitted preferring young underage men for sexual gratification. Mr. Berry was a classic example of a ‘Chicken Hawk,' which in street vernacular is a term for an adult male who has sexual relations with boys under the age of sixteen.
"5. Mr. Berry would routinely tell me, in graphic detail, about his sexual exploits with boys under the age of sixteen. …"
The declaration pleased the Office of Special Affairs enormously, who continued during the next years to exploit its contents with great enthusiasm and with the goal of destroying Berry's reputation. Soon the declaration was published on the internet both through the worldwide web and through its newsgroups. Or the Scientologists distributed it in a more conventional way and, using Berry's language, "leafleted in my neighborhood, using a three block radius in each direction, under every car's windscreen wiper."
Berry, at this point, had undertaken various professional changes. After the Geertz/Fishman suit had been dismissed, Berry sought to represent Ex-Scientologists and to continue litigating Scientology as he sincerely thought this would be a tremendous business opportunity. His law firm disagreed, so Berry left, joined Musick, Peeler & Garrett around 1995, before founding his own firm, Berry, Lewis, Scali & Stojkovic, in 1997.
Also in 1997, Robert Cipriano moved to California, ignorant of the fact that Berry had filed suit against him for the contest of the declaration from 1994 ("Graham Berry vs. Robert Cipriano," Superior Court Los Angeles, No. BC 184 355). Soon the Office of Special Affairs sent out Eugene Ingram to get in touch with him again. Cipriano was introduced to Kendrick Moxon, CSI's litigator, and was informed about Berry's lawsuit.
Subsequently Moxon's new law firm, Moxon & Kobrin, integrated within CSI's "ecclesiastical" structure and part of OSA International, began representing Cipriano as a client on March 20th, 1998 [Exh. No. 195]. After an initial retainer had been formalized, Moxon went on and hired on March 25th, 1998 a separate attorney, Gary Soter, from Wasserman, Comden & Casselman, who would function as the official legal representative of Cipriano during the litigation with Berry [Exh. No. 196]. Moxon & Kobrin not only agreed to fund Cipriano's legal bills in connection with the suit against Berry, but also took care of his legal problems with the New Jersey authorities [Exh. No. 197]. After having discussed the tactics for the court case (finding more witnesses "of the right side" through the use of investigators) [Exh. No. 198], Moxon began even to finance Cipriano's private needs, for example, his apartment, his telephone bills [Exh. No. 199] and even his new car [Exh. No. 200]. In a later interview that was published as a video-clip on the internet Cipriano claimed that hundreds of thousands of dollars had been passed to him" by the Moxon law firm.
By August of 1999 the financing of Cipriano's private and legal needs turned out to have been a rather sour investment for the Scientologists, as, in a bizarre twist, Cipriano decided that "he couldn't live with himself anymore" and switched sides. First he fired Moxon and Soter and then hired of all people Graham Berry as his new legal representative.
At that point, Berry was already in deep trouble. His former partners had left his law firm. During the previous year he had started several ill-founded lawsuits against various Scientology corporations, individual Scientologists and their attorneys (f. e. "Berry vs. Barton et al," Superior Court of Los Angeles, No. BC 186 188), alleging a sinister conspiracy directed by Scientology and all its attorneys to destroy him. While his lawsuits often lacked any substantial merit, Berry tried to compensate it with manic and erratic motions and exparte applications. The courts in return did not appreciate such conduct and as a result he was fined several times and after his suits had been dismissed he winded up with legal bills in the tens of thousands of dollars. Finally Berry filed for bankruptcy in the summer of 1999 ("In re Graham Berry," U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, No. LA 99-32264 ER).
While Berry hoped to prove, with Cipriano's help, that he was set up by Moxon & Co., the court denied him this recognition. Instead he was pronounced a "vexatious litigant" by judge Williams during a hearing on August 20th, 1999 due to his ill-advised conduct in court [Exh. No. 201, Excerpt].
And there was more bad news: on November 25th, 1998, during a deposition in one of Berry's initiated lawsuits, Scientology attorney Samuel Rosen found out about an intimate relationship between Berry and a pro-bono client, the young delinquent Michael Hurtado [Exh. No. 202, Excerpt].
Learning this, the Office of Special Affairs started its well-oiled investigative machinery and soon enough, in January 1999, the parents of Michael Hurtado found investigator Eugene Ingram on their doorstep, telling them and their son Michael, that he had something interesting to tell them about Graham Berry [Exh. No. 203, Excerpt]. He was let into the house and was also allowed to present the family a videotape of a deposition of Berry, where he had to answer questions about his past sex life and drug use. Stating that Berry had had sex with minors and was sued before over that, Ingram suggested to Michael that he should sue Berry for malpractice.
The inevitable followed: on February 11th Hurtado signed a declaration about a cocaine and sex-orgy at Berry's condominium and his sex-for-legal-representation arrangement he had with Berry [Exh. No. 204]. Two months after, on April 2nd, 1999 Moxon & Kobrin filed its civil complaint on behalf of Hurtado against Berry ("Hurtado vs. Berry," Superior Court Los Angeles, No. BC 208227) [Exh. No. 205] alleging that Berry had committed sexual battery, breach of fiduciary duty, pandering, legal malpractice, etc.
In the complaint Moxon asserted that "plaintiff has experienced physical harm; sexual battery; severe emotional distress; and degradation of mind and body out of Berry's indecent and perverted acts, …" Evidently Moxon did not care too much about any additional degradation of his client arising from the suit itself, as he filed the above mentioned declaration of Hurtado in the open court record, making the sexual encounters of Hurtado and Berry with all explicit details an available record for the general public.
The Hurtado suit lasted for over two years. As in the case of Cipriano, Hurtado retained a second counsel, Donald Wager [Exh. No. 206], after the initial association with Moxon & Kobrin. Nevertheless Moxon & Kobrin remained Hurtado's main representation in the case until April 2001, when it was dismissed. It is my belief, that a settlement was finally reached between the parties, although the last document in the official court record doesn't suggest that this had been the case [Exh. No. 207].
At this point Berry's last trump card, Robert Cipriano, was long gone. The relationship that had been newly refreshed in the summer of 1999, had lasted just 4 months. On December 22nd Cipriano issued a new declaration that re-affirmed the validity of the 1994-declaration [Exh. No. 208]. Evidently he had switched sides again. In a last attempt to get Cipriano under control again, Berry forced him to sign a new declaration that would enable Berry to re-attack Moxon. Apparently, he was threatening Cipriano to notify authorities about some obscure business dealings Cipriano had been involved in. Cipriano, who, for whatever reason, had no money, was moved together with his girlfriend by Berry to a motel in California. There, still dependant on Berry's mercy, Cipriano freed himself again from any legal and moral restrictions he still might have had, called Kendrick Moxon and asked him for help. The telephone conversation that followed, which was taped and later filed in court by Moxon, had moments of sheer absurdity [Exh. No. 209]:
Kendrick Moxon (KM): "What's Berry trying to get you to do?"
Robert Cipriano (RC): "Oh, he wants me at the Sheriff's Office this morning. Supposedly some bullshit with that and …"
KM: "So, what the declaration …"
RC: "Department of Justice."
KM: "This declaration I assume is not accurate, right?"
RC: "It's total false. What I'm looking at is that we're stuck here. We can't do shit. My girlfriend and myself. Okay?"
Girlfriend (in the background): "We're being held captive, man."
RC (to girlfriend): "Hold on a second, sweetie."
RC: "We just got informed that her mother, who is in Palm Springs, had a massive heart attack. She's on life support and all that stuff."
In the upcoming months Berry finally hit rock bottom. In the bankruptcy proceedings the Scientologists eagerly tried to tighten the grip on Berry. While trying to recover their attorney fees for Berry's initiated and later dismissed cases, they were able to put a lien on his property and convinced the judge that Berry's car, next to his condominium, should be liquidated too. The bankruptcy court now had become another battlefield where Berry would pursue his lonely and pitiable Don Quixote-like counter attacks against the windmills of Scientology's legal machinery [Ex. No. 210].
During 2001 Berry, now a Los Angeles lawyer without a car, had to face his final and most serious defeat. At the California bar, several complaints of Scientology-lawyers had mounted up and a state bar proceeding against Berry began (No. 99 0 10540 & 99 0 12791). It ended with Berry's voluntary and temporary revocation of his license.
Without a job, Berry still believed in his cause and on January 21st, 2002 he filed a 132 page-criminal complaint against Scientology with U. S. Attorney General Ashcroft, consisting mostly of conspiracy theories that circle around his lost or dismissed cases against the Scientologists.
Graham Berry is certainly not a totally innocent victim of Scientology, in view of his dubious past and conduct. And Moxon & Kobrin may have had even legal ground "to fuel the fire" the way they had done in the Cipriano- and Hurtado-case, if they were an independent law firm and had represented a private client. Instead Moxon, an employee of CSI, was using its funds, officially designated for "charitable purposes," for the control of a "friendly witness" (Cipriano) and to finance litigation of third parties (Hurtado). Such conduct certainly cannot be masked as a "bona fide activity," even if the Office of Special Affairs tries to characterize Berry in one of its satellite web pages as an anti-religious extremist, suggesting any counter actions run under the category "freedom of religion." [Exh. No. 211]