Double Crossed

The Church of Scientology has a reputation for ruthlessly going after its enemies. Robert Cipriano claims Scientologists rewarded him for helping them do just that. Now he's turned on them.

* In Florida, Scientology made the town of Clearwater one of its two world headquarters (the other is Los Angeles). When Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares complained about the church in 1976, FBI documents show the church launched a campaign to spread rumors about his sex life.

* Scientology's most ambitious crusade was directed at its arch enemy: the Internal Revenue Service. From 1957 to 1992, the IRS denied the church tax-exempt status, saying that it was more a moneymaking operation than a religion. In 1977, FBI agents raided the Church of Scientology in both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and discovered damning evidence that, for several years, Scientology operatives in the church's secretive Guardian's Office had been breaking into the IRS and other federal offices in Washington and stealing government documents. To this day, Scientology's pilfering of records, which Hubbard designated Operation Snow White, is the single largest infiltration of the U.S. government in history.

Despite uncovering the scheme, the FBI couldn't immediately put its hands on Snow White's chief infiltrator, a Guardian's Office operative named Michael Meisner. Searching for Meisner, FBI agents demanded samples of his handwriting. But the Guardian's Office supplied the FBI with false handwriting samples to throw agents off Meisner's trail. According to a stipulation of evidence in the case signed by church officials, the person who supplied the false signature samples was GO employee Kendrick Moxon -- who today is the church attorney accused by Robert Cipriano of masterminding the plot to destroy Graham Berry.

Eventually, 11 Scientologists, including Guardian's Office director Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of the church founder) were sentenced to prison. "The crimes committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard," wrote U.S. Attorney Charles Ruff in a sentencing memorandum. "It is interesting to note that the Founder of their organization, unindicted co-conspirator L. Ron Hubbard, wrote...that 'truth is what is true for you,' and 'illegal' is that which is 'contrary to statistics or policy' and not pursuant to Scientology's 'approved program.' Thus, with the Founder-Commodore's blessings, they could wantonly commit crimes as long as it was in the interest of Scientology....The standards of human conduct embodied in such practices represent no less than the absolute perversion of any known ethical value system."

Besides Hubbard himself, Kendrick Moxon and 21 others were named unindicted co-conspirators and were not charged. (Moxon tells New Times he didn't knowingly supply false handwriting samples and that the stipulation of evidence was something signed by church officials but written by FBI agents. He says the matter was thoroughly investigated by two bar associations -- in D.C. and in California -- before they admitted him as an attorney. Moxon is in good standing with the bar associations in both jurisdictions.)

After the Snow White debacle, church officials insisted that the Guardian's Office had contained "rogue elements" who broke into government offices without the knowledge or permission of the rest of the organization. The church has promised the IRS and said publicly that it has purged itself of the Snow White operatives. In 1993, the IRS granted tax-exempt status to the Church of Scientology after, among other things, it declared that it had changed its ways.

Scientologists point out that in 1968, Hubbard issued a policy canceling "fair game." Wrote Hubbard: "The practice of declaring people FAIR GAME will cease. FAIR GAME may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations." However, the memo's next line seemed to indicate that while the term "fair game" would cease to be used, the practice of fair game would not: "The [policy letter] does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP [Suppressive Person]."

Scientology officials have argued repeatedly that the 1968 policy forever ended the practice of fair game, but former high-ranking Scientologists say the 1968 policy letter was merely a PR tactic and that the policy has never gone away.

" 'Fair game' is still in effect. I don't care what they've said," says Frank Oliver, who was, until 1993, an operative in Scientology's Office of Special Affairs, the intelligence-gathering agency that replaced the Guardian's Office. Oliver and other former Scientologists tell New Times that OSA picked up where the GO left off, fair-gaming enemies on behalf of church leaders. Oliver describes his duties with OSA: "Spy on people. Gather intelligence. Write reports."

Oliver's last assignment before leaving Scientology was to help Kendrick Moxon and other officials establish a special unit to target the Cult Awareness Network (CAN). Oliver says the goal of the unit was to recruit plaintiffs to sue CAN, which Scientology wanted to put out of business. Moxon was intimately involved in the effort that finally did just that.

In Oliver's opinion, there's little doubt that his former colleagues have targeted Graham Berry.

Says Oliver: "I'm sure somebody gets their ass chewed on a daily basis in Scientology, asked what have you done to destroy Graham Berry today?"

Robert Cipriano contends he had no idea at first that the Church of Scientology was using him to destroy Berry. When he signed a declaration falsely accusing Berry of sexual acts with young boys, Cipriano says he thought he was helping out the Los Angeles Police Department.

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