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Scientology officials jailed for ignoring subpoenas

Title: Scientology officials jailed for ignoring subpoenas
Date: Friday, 18 April 1980
Publisher: Clearwater Times (Florida)
Author: Craig Roberton
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CLEARWATER — Church of Scientology spokesman Milt Wolfe and another church official were jailed Thursday for failing to respond to subpoenas by Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney James T. Russel.

Wolfe and Ted Froyland, an official of the church's Ministry of Legal Affairs, were taken into custody by detectives from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office at 3 p.m., according to sheriff's spokesman Merrill Stebbins.

After spending less than two hours in custody, the two Scientologists were released on their own recognisance by Circuit Judge Harry Fogle. Fogle ordered them to appear for a hearing at 8:30 a.m. today before Circuit Judge David Patterson to face possible contempt charges for failing to appear Thursday.

Wolfe and Froyland did not have an attorney present when they appeared before Fogle.

"The only thing I can say is that on the advice of my attorney I did not appear this morning," Wolfe told Fogle. "My attorney said he had written a letter to Mr. Russel advising him of such."

AFTER BEING ADVISED by Fogle of the court hearing today, Wolfe responded, "I can assure you that I will be there in the morning."

Responded Fogle: "You can't hide behind the advice of counsel for not appearing tomorrow morning."

Stebbins said the detectives spotted Wolfe and Froyland driving in a car on Sunset Point Road and made the arrest at Sunset Point Road's intersection with Douglas Avenue.

Stebbins said that neither Wolfe nor Froyland offered any resistance and willingly identified themselves when asked to by detectives.

Russell issued his subpoenas for the two men on Tuesday as part of a criminal investigation into activities of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater. He has now subpoenaed more than 20 Scientologists.

On Wednesday, attorneys for Wolfe and Froyland asked the U.S. District Court in Tampa to order Russell to show cause why the two should be subpoenaed. The church contended that Russell was harassing the two because they had made public statements critical of Russell in the past.

CHURCH SPOKESMEN said Thursday that attorneys for Wolfe and Froyland had sent letters to Russell's office Thursday contending that the subpoenas were in improper form.

Another church spokesman, Hugh Wilhere, released the following statement late Thursday afternoon, before he had received word of Wolfe's and Froyland's release:

"Mr. Russell's latest action is an outrage. He has made a double-barreled assault against First Amendment rights, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This is a police state action coming out of Mr. Russell's one-man tribunal. The gestapo rounded up and detained those who spoke out against their methods. Obviously Mr. Russell's methods are the same.

"It is now very clear that Mr. Russell is conducting a purely harassive campaign to silence Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Froyland, being carried on by Mr. Russell's office against individual members of the C of S (Church of Scientology)."

Russell could not be reached for comment.

IN A RELATED development, Clearwater Commissioner Richard Tenney announced Thursday that he is filing a complaint against the Church of Scientology with the Florida Department of Legal Affairs.

Tenney contends that the church has violated terms of its nonprofit corporate charter by operating as a resort business without paying sales and resort taxes.

Tenney produced a copy of a classified advertisement that appeared in the April 10 issue of the Clearwater Sun. The ad encouraged persons interested in a high-paying career to come to the Sandcastle Inn (owned by the Church of Scientology) for an interview. The ad was placed by a man who Tenney contends is a private salesman.

Tenney contended that, if the church is renting rooms at its facilities to traveling salesmen, then the church should pay sales and resort taxes, just as other hotels and motels do.

By failing to do so, Tenney contended, the church has evaded payment of more than ${?]00,000 in taxes.

A church spokesman said Tenney's latest claim sounded "bogus" but was not prepared to respond further by press time.

— Staff writers Chuck Albury and Pat Davis contributed to this report.