In 1975 a mysterious group known as the United Churches of Florida crept into Clearwater, bought some property and settled behind security guards armed with clubs, pepper spray and silence.
Concerned and curious, then Mayor Gabe Cazares took a closer look into this secretive organization and discovered they were none other than Scientology.
The battle that ensued between the Mayor who was rightfully concerned for the well-being of his city and the determined, shadowy and defensive cult did have one positive result; it displayed exactly what Scientology was capable of and the lengths it would go to make the city theirs.
Many and various plots against Cazares were planned and created showing the depth of malicious ingenuity the minds of the Guardian’s Office could sink to.
Operation Speedy Gonzales’ objective was “To ruin Mayor Gabriel Cazares’ political career by spreading a scandal about his sex life broadly.”
This included positioning a plant on the campus of St. Petersburg Junior College to surveil Larry Galantis, and begin spreading rumors.
“THIS IS TO BE SAID OVER AND OVER TO ALL SPOKEN TO:
‘DID YOU HEAR THAT THE MAYOR OF CLEARWATER–CAZARES–IS HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH LARRY GALANTIS’ MOTHER…HE’S IN (CLASS)ie: Psych 201.’ When this rumor has been spread around campus for 2-3 days then on the last day of the rumor spreading a young man (should sound as close as possible to Larry Galantis as possible) calls Mayor Cazares’ house and speaks to Mrs. Cazares.
Note: His tone is to be Grief and then anger.
In grief he says: ‘Your husband is a hypocrite and should stay away from my mother. It’s all over campus and I’m pointed at and they’re all laughing at me like I’m a fool or something.
If he doesn’t stay away from my mother I’m going to go to someone who will see that he is handled.’
If Mrs. Cazares asks who is this–the caller is to say:(NOW IN ANGER) ‘Just ask him about Lina, and while your (sic) at it be sure to tell him that he’s a God Damn Hypocrite!! be sure to tell him THAT!’ and hang up.”
This was not the only planned attack on Cazares, Operation Italian Fog was “To discredit C W’s Mayor and weaken his power in his attacking actions at the Base.” To this end, several objectives were noted;
“To locate a Mexican that can carry this project out without any negative kickbacks.
To get the documentation mocked up and ‘planted’.
To find out with certainty when the Mayor was in Mexico. To find and interview Mayor’s mother.”
Part of this particular plot included researching what specific documents were in existence in Mexico two decades earlier and “If the records run out to be a simple procedure just a copy in Mexico City or just a copy in the Bordor (sic)town, work out a way to get a sample actual record of a marrage (sic) like the one explained in target #3. Find out how to put in a false doc into their files or how to bribe an official to do it.
When the above is done recruit a Mexican FSM (one who has done similar actions before) See that Docs are put into the proper files showing that the Mayor was married in Mexico about 25
years ago. A Mexican girl will have to dug up. One that can’t be located.”
Operation Street Man was to be a behind the scenes campaign of accusations, letters and other anonymous attacks on Cazares to prevent him from continuing in the political arena.
“B1 Flag has sufficient terminals in the field in strategic positions to bing (sic) about the decline of Gabe Cazares as a political candidate, both locally and nationally.”
This included amongst other instructions. “A couple of letters to the CW City Commission should be sent, complaining about the lack of attention that Cazares has paid to his duties as Mayor. This should be sent by someone who has followed Cazares’ campaign closely, naming the dates of his campaign speeches, etc. This should be in the form of ‘start paddling or get out of the boat’. Should go ‘Attn: Karen Deblaker’”
Gabe Cazares suffered so much more at the hands of Scientology.
This dark miasma of hate and rage that snuck into Clearwater in the guise of light.
Time and distance has shrouded these events in a softening mist. They are buried in a past over three decades old that take the sting from the arrows flung in paranoia. For people today the serious, deep and abiding pain and confusion inflicted on those dubbed “enemy” cannot be felt or understood so it becomes a sterile, emotionless memory if it is even thought of at all.
It was not just Mayor Cazares who was targeted by this oh so righteous and ethical religion.
Scientology, the great humanitarian church who invented the way to happiness and who is determined to recreate the planet in their own image and likeness imposes its will on everyone. Claims of religious freedom and tolerance only apply in so far as the world bows to their brawn.
While much attention has been given to the circumstances surrounding the beleaguered Mayor who fought for his city, there were other targets being put through equally insidious torment.
During the 1977 FBI raids on Scientology’s Washington D.C. and Los Angeles locations thousands of documents were confiscated that would reveal crime and perfidy in many forms.
In 1976 it was revealed that COS had spent months investigating then Dunedin Police Chief Edward M. Smith with the express intention of humiliating both him and the St. Petersburg Police Department. Stemming from a fear that the department had files on Scientology that were not revealed after a Freedom of Information Act request by the suspicious cult, the decision was made that Smith disliked Scientology and was therefore an enemy.
An operation was planned to “get the police and other agencies involved in the illegal evasion to lie and thus box themselves in, then expose the lie—possibly through State Ethics Committee action—with maximum P.R. and legal exposure of government overts re: FOI evasion. A Watergate set-up.”
In the end, the operation apparently fizzled out and nothing further was done. According to the document describing this proposed attack, “No legal hat has been worn; we have simply gotten data on Smith and his agency.”
—November 24, 1997, St. Petersburg Times, Vol 96-No. 123, Files: Scientologists Plan to Discredit Police, Lie to U.S. Agency, Charles Stafford
In this same edition a piece written by Craig Roberton, Documents Describe Church Efforts to get Around Immigration Law, details how Scientology taught 50 of its so called “ministers” to lie in order to get around U.S. immigration laws.
1976, with COS established in Clearwater the creation of the new FLAG Headquarters needed staff badly. To this end, Scientology planned on bringing in 50 foreign members to fill the empty positions. These “ministers” were granted visitor permits as the shore story they were each ordered to tell was that the trip to the U.S. was a reward for their up-stat hard work. As it is illegal on a visitor permit to enter the U.S. with the intent of then staying permanently these “ministers” led immigration to believe that this was just a holiday. Once in Clearwater, each new staffer would suddenly come to the realization that they wanted to stay and work for the church. The document describing this illegal operation states that had the true story behind the “ministers” reason for being in the country were discovered they could each have been charged with perjury and deported.
When the decision making process concerning these 50 aliens became too slow for Scientology liking, a new plot was discussed to blackmail and discredit the INS Agent who was handling the case.
The Clearwater Sun also reported on the vengeful actions of Scientology in a 1979 article entitled Cover Blown: 2 Spies Come In From The Cold by Richard Leiby.
Leiby describes how, in 1975 Scientologists June Phillips and Jodi (last name unknown) infiltrated the Clearwater Sun Newspaper and the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce respectively. Each was planted in order to gather information pertinent to Scientology as well as to cause disruption by spreading misinformation and rumor.
Prior to the current assignments, both women had been caught whilst spying on the American Medical Association. A third Scientologist, Molly Gillian, was found planted in the Sun’s library under the guise of doing academic research. According to Leiby’s article Jody had an alias, Wanda Martin, under which she also held positions at U.S. Home Corp., The Clearwater-Dunedin-Largo Board of Realtors and The St. Petersburg Times.
One might think, even hope, that these underhanded practices were all the cult was up to, after all, they were consumed with the Clearwater Mayor as well.
Unfortunately for besieged Clearwater Sun staff writer Mark Sableman, the Guardian’s Office still had the energy and means to add him to their list of enemies to be destroyed.
In a Clearwater Times article by David Bralow, Cult Concocted Scheme to have Sun Reporter Fired, it is revealed that a plan was created by GO Agent Joe Lisa in order to have Sableman fired.
How was this plan to be implemented?
Lisa wanted to convince Sableman’s employers that not only was he a homosexual, but that he tried to “corrupt little boys”.
Not satisfied with just ruining Mark Sableman’s career, the operation was expanded to include other enemies such as radio host Bob Snyder and Bette Orsin, a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times.
The attack and character assassination of Sableman was to have gone so far as to have an elderly woman hired to run into the Managing Editor’s office screaming that Sableman had sexually assaulted her son or grandson.
While this plot was never carried out, Sableman had his hotel room broken into and several articles along with notes were stolen.
A Scientology spokesperson, Nancy Reitz, defended these planned attacks saying “who wouldn’t investigate these individuals under similar circumstances?”
These are just a small look at some of the actions Scientology were willing to contemplate against people whose only crimes were taking a stand and speaking out against the cult that had so deceptively landed in their midst.
It would be easy to think that because these things happened in the 70’s they are not relevant to today, but that is a dangerous and irresponsible thought process to adopt.
Scientology has a demonstrated history of crime and abuse. One only need look online to see that the Policy of Fair Game is alive and well. The multiple hateful, hate filled, dishonest websites that have been created to discredit former members who have come forward and spoken out should be enough to give anyone food for thought.
Edward Parkin, International Director of the Scientology front group STAAD League is another excellent example of the lengths taken to destroy the credibility and reputation of a perceived enemy.
The practice of framing another was in use at the time of Mayor Cazares and it is still being used today with no differences. After the tragic stabbing at the Australian Scientology Org, Parkin was quick to baselessly lay responsibility for the murder at the feet of Leah Remini and Mike Rinder. The fake mantra “They have blood on their hands” was picked up and repeated by Scientologist all over social media in spite of a statement by Bryan Seymour, the Australian journalist who broke the story, saying neither Rinder nor Remini had anything to do with the incident.
Attempting to ruin someone’s character and livelihood through lies and invented crimes was carried out back in the 1970’s and it is still done so now. The OSA operated @TarynTeutsch twitter account shouts “Fire Mike Rinder” as it accuses him of provably false domestic violence against his ex wife.
The damning letter writing campaign mentioned in reference to Gabe Cazares to ruin his future is ongoing today as can be seen by all the letters written to Disney Corporation, A&E Network and any of the Sponsors of Leah and Mike’s show. Not only that, but also in the scandal of COS using discontinued USC letterhead to write suspect letters from Dr. Cecil Murray.
Nothing in how Scientology operates has changed in the past 30 years. All one need do is look and this fact becomes frighteningly clear.
As the upcoming election in March approaches, it would do well for every citizen in Clearwater to not only look to Scientology’s recent actions but to carefully study their history in this beautiful city.
To ignore this history will certainly be to doom the City of Clearwater to not only a repetition of it, but perhaps even worse; the loss of the city entirely.
2 thoughts on “Scientology in Clearwater: A History of Malice and Crime”
Back in the 1990s I spent three weeks poring through local newspaper records and compiling a brief history of Scientology in CW. I spoke with Gabe Cazares and others who were directly impacted by the organization’s practices and policies. It is good to see this history laid out. There is much more, including how business owners and residents were forced out, Scientology’s strange relationship with local police, and how they never paid taxes, instead maintaining a legal battle for decades. Clearwater citizens need to have the conversation, and their elected officials need to stop treating Scientology like a benign organization.
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I couldn’t agree more! It seems that some of the citizens of Clearwater have blinders on. It will be the undoing of the city, I’m afraid.