Widow Of Air Florida Pilot Donates To Scientolog

The Associated Press, February 10, 1984

   "I was flabbergasted," Dade Probate Judge Francis Christie said after
learning that Joanne Wheaton donated part of the $300,000 workers' compensation
to the group.

   The money was supposed to have gone into the estate of Larry Wheaton to
pay off any debts, and at least part was to be safeguarded until the couple's
two sons, Eli, 2, and Joshua, 8, turn 18, Christie told The Miami Herald
in a story published Thursday.
   The judge has appointed a lawyer to seek return of the money.
   Wheaton's Air Florida jet crashed Jan. 13, 1982, onto a crowded bridge
in Washington and then into the ice-filled Potomac River. Only five of the
79 people aboard survived.
   Wheaton, 34, and his wife were ardent Scientologists and had made sizable
contributions to the church. He was earning $72,000 a year as a pilot.
   The case of Wheaton's estate had gone before Christie because he had left
no will. The judge learned of the disbursal of the money during routine questioning
at a hearing.                  
          Mrs. Wheaton said her lawyers never told her the workers compensation
money wasn't hers to spend.
   "It was a little flub on the part of one of the attorneys," she said.
"I had not been advised that by law, it had to go into the estate."
   Lawyer Robert Shevin, a former attorney general appointed to the case
by Christie, filed suit Wednesday on behalf of Mrs. Wheaton and her two sons
seeking return of $150,000 invested in MSR Inc., a Dade County company owned
by Scientologist Robert Almblad, and punitive damages.
   Shevin said that after he wrote a letter threatening to sue, the Church
of Scientology  and its various entities, including several ministers, returnedthe
$135,000 they got.
   The church also excommunicated Almblad and another Scientologist, Kenneth
McFarland, who was the church's deputy commander of international expansion
at the time. Shevin claimed in the suit that both men coerced Mrs. Wheaton
to give away the money.
   Mrs. Wheaton also gave the church at least $75,000 of her husband's $142,000
insurance policy. But since the policy was not a probatable asset, unlike
the workers' compensation, she was entitled to give that away, the judge

Why Are They Dead?