1978–The Beginning of the End
Since 1974 when Synanon declared itself a religion, the changes and notions came so fast that the members lived in a constant flux of a continual Dederich squeeze aimed at keeping only the fanatical. In 1975 Dederich built his Roman Memorial in Badger for everyone to enjoy and relax, while at same time applying excruciating loyalty tests such as forcing vasectomies and abortions in 1976 thus lowering the population he had to support. In 1977 he forced the switching of amorous partners, while at the same time building a charitable distribution network aimed at making Synanon a lot of money, performing a great public service; raising members esteem; only they didn’t know that as part of the plan Dederich would seek to control other charities by demanding loyalty for goods delivery.
In 1978 the squeeze was turned up still tighter. Having re-built Rome, Dederich’s seemingly life time passion to move led Synanon to relocate the “Home Place” once again, this time from Visalia to Lake Havesu, a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River, on the border between California and Arizona. Robert Paxton McCulloch, an American entrepreneur notable for McCulloch Chainsaws, put the city on the map when he purchased the old London Bridge and moved it to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The difference here was that at this location the corporation– Home Place Inc. was private, not an extension of the nonprofit foundation. In a tape recording later to be seized in December (see below) called the “Freebees are over” Dederich outlined the plan that Synanon would rotate newcomers to the new compound in order to be taught “morality” and how to live by the Elite and in return Synanon, which raised monies by soliciting tax-free donations, would pay the new private corporation out of its charitable received funds for “treating” the character disordered. The Corporation of course would pay nice salaries to Dederich and the Elite, who would pay taxes. The plan to raid the non-profit corporation funds was finally laid out.
But most significantly, Dederich decided in 78 to live up to his 1977 prophecy that they would not just beat up the enemies anymore, but to kill them “dead… Physically, dead.”
In January of l978 Synanon members submitted applications to bear arms and Dr. Doug Robson revamped his proposed arsenal costs to $70,000.
Synanon filed its law suit against Time Magazine for calling it a “Kooky Cult” last December over changing partners, started by Ellen and Lou Delgado happily married for 8 years joyfully splitting. The suit against Time alleged 19 passages were defamatory including devoting less time to rehabilitation and the people get hoped up on the place as a junkie does on drugs. Its claimed losses included a contract with Alaska to advise the state on drug addiction programs. they said they had losses of $233,572, parents removing children and the set up of a 24-hour on the protection because of death threats. It was acquired “Synanon’s holy war against time, Inc.” because the article will stop addicts from coming to Synanon. SCRAP raised $100,000 for the suit. Others will die, Synanon claimed Dederich called at the most contemptable hatchet job in Synanon’s history.
Meanwhile Synanon members wrote time magazine officials saying Synanon was going to ruin their lives.among the writers was Lance Kenton. One writer said victims of your cynical reporting may yet arise and kill you. Time Magazine received a bomb warning saying it was placed by a Synanon member. The building was evacuated but no bomb was found. A call was made to United States customs saying that ed. Hedley Donovan when entering the country was smuggling drugs. Donovan was searched and interrogated and then apologized to. Two SCRAM members were seen witnessing the event. Outside his home, Donovan was confronted by SCRAM and told they were going to ruin his life. Synanon members attended a Time stockholder meetings suggesting security precautions should be taken for the executive and their families, severally as a had done to ABC. Suggestions of violence against Time personnel were also made.
Another writer called the game the “Virginia Woolf” form of group therapy. Also in January, Runner’s World interview of Synanon Dr. Frank on how Dr. Kennerth Cooper methods of aerobics were used in Synanon appeared. “Huff ‘n puff” could earn 30 aerobic points weekly and each was to work out five times a week. Invented from a form of jogging called “hurry-up” –cross between a race and workout, rewards were given over short distances based on time, like loaves of home made dark bread. Dr. Frank said,” My ideals and dreams could finally be realized here (preventive medicine): “It’s overwhelming to think doctors can demonstrate a lifestyle we have been merely preaching for years. He had lost 3- lbs and no longer smoked a pack a day.
Narda Zacchino wrote a story recounting interviews with splitees now willing to speak out. Exemplifying was Dr. Jerry Newmark, an educator who had been in Synanon from 1970 to 1976 believing it was a place dedicated to saving lives and finding a better way to live. But he left in 1976 bothered by the large salaries, the acquisition of guns and Dederich’s growing authoritarian phone. He had feared being sued for speaking, but in the end decided that Synanon once stood for the principle that no one could get hurt as long as they spoke the truth. Al Baumanread been in Synanon for 10 years and was once its president said, “I think it’s time that the public found out how much Synanon has changed.
But more serious matters occupied the media. Dederich told Connie Chung on January 12 that if Time magazine came to do them harm, “they would do them harm first.”
The next day, Synanon purchased what it admitted to be slightly more than $62,200 worth of weapons. Dederich told a press it was in response to all the attacks on Synanon and that he and his Synanon family were considering leaving, ala Jim Jones, the United States for their safety. the decision to make the weapon purchases was attended by Dr. Doug Robson, Walter Lewbeland Dan Garrett. They wanted to buy mass weapons at once so they could bargain the price and they feared future regulations might be coming in the near future that would make the purchases more difficult.
On January 17, former member Kim Meyers tried to return to Synanon and considered a potential spy was beaten and taken by force by Synanon legal team when he escaped from a Syann car on the Golden State Bridge. He went to the police, and despite face bruises was not believed (See True History of Synanon violence). Robson wrote next time a prisoner would have big guys on both sides to prevent a get-away. A few days later Dr.Robson wrote again confirming the Meyers incident and requesting permission for Dr. Dave Schwartz to carry a handgun and respond with Pete Hyman were weapons might be needed. He said within the next 7 days they would schedule their first firearms massive doses at the Strip him begin to train more people to handle weapons
And on January 20, 1978 Art Warfield picked up weapons and 65,000 rounds of ammunition. The California Department of Justice, now receiving countless calls, including many from me, put the arms purchase at $307,000 and stated it included armor piercing bullets.
It was hard to break the news to my girl friend. “Hi dear…sit down for dinner?…OK…what’s new with Synanon?” What could I say? Oh nothing much…just on January 20, Art Warfield personally picked up from Markell Gun Shop, 56 Remington 12 gauge shotguns, 12 mini 14 caliber rifles, 10 Ruger 22 caliber rifles, 7 Remington 308 caliber rifles with scopes, 22 rifles, 24 Colt 45s, 3 lightweight 45 caliber automatic pistols, 7 22 — 45 caliber conversion kits and 65,000 rounds of ammunition. In making its delivery Markell did not wait the required legal 15 day grace period between purchase date and delivery of hand guns (the state law did not apply to long guns) claiming it thought Synanon was an exempt government agency. Upon discovery of its mistake it asked for a temporary return of the guns.
“Not to worry honey. It just appears Synanon is either readying for war or expecting an invasion.”
While Synanon was purchasing these weapons, the State of California Department of Education approved the Synanon College to teach 20 courses, all of which were related to Synanon’s needs, such as animal husbandry, food services, carpentry, plant maintenance, sales maintenance, etc. meanwhile, in his monthly report, Dr. Doug Robson wrote Ron Cook that there on private patrol had come together. 5 members had sent in completed applications to the State for a private patrol firearms cars. Robson also reported the kennel building and that for trained dogs would arrive soon.and lighters would be trained and others would have to stay away or be injured by the animals.
On January 31st, 1978, Dederich announced he would be retiring when he turned 65 on March 22. He said his decision was in part because of the threats against him and to be more active in the lawsuit against Time magazine. His daughter, Jady, 27, who had more than 8,000 game hours behind her was to replace him. Jady told the media if Synanon is not unrecognizable in 10 years then it will be in trouble. “We change, that’s what we do.” While she would no doubt have administrative duties I doubted anyone but her father would set policy. What’s more, I was taking efforts to take Charles Dederich’s deposition and this could be seen as a Synanon ploy to claim it could not produce him as he was no longer a part of the corporation. Also, over last 6 months I had generated a lot of anti-Synanon publicity in Santa Monica.
No one believed Dederich was not still the top man. And he was receiving a $100,000 a year consulting agreement.
Next, two weeks after the California Attorney General, at my urgings, said it would look into financial status of the nonprofit organization, Jady announced Synanon would be selling most of at Santa Monica holdings. She said they may move to Mexico for a while or to Canada to open a Synanon facility. If they did, ala the People’s Temple, members would lose protection of US laws. Synanon wanted 3 million for the Del Mar Club. They had $7 million worth of property in Santa Monica but only 87 residents as compared to 919 in l967. Its nonresident participation once 2,000 in number was down to about 40. Its warehouse on Cloverfield sold for 1.3 million. The plan was to keep one apartment property as an “Embassy.”
Pay-TV was not in existence, and specially made for television movies were a major event. On a Friday, February 3, CBS aired “Dead man’s Curve” the story of the surf singers Jan and Dean which would set a national ratings record. We had gathered at my girl friends to watch it and when my writing credited appeared on the screen I quipped that 1000 televisions in Synanon just change stations.
Meanwhile, the organization continued to look for charitable projects in its fight to keep its tax free status. On February 10, 1978, 25 Synanon residents volunteered to help place 650 feet of fiberglass tubing to prevent further erosion of sand dunes at Seadrift near Stinson Beach. On February 28, 1978, David Hale capsized his twelve foot outboard boat in Bodega Bay. His companion lost at sea was rescued by a local surfer and the crew of a small Synanon boat.
Also in February The Specialty Advertiser published its Synanon piece. The Editors Note said article was originally written before Time article came out and Synanon sued. They then re-wrote their piece, saying as it appeared in recent years Synanon redefined its purpose to emphasize its religious aspects it raised questions, given the high volume of sales that take away from potential sales of the industry, all in industry are faced with: whether they wish to support this new religion and sometimes questionable practices or not? The article said Synanon will sell $11 million ad specialties that year. Synanon reaches contributors through a gift and premium catalog. Synanon salespeople traveled throughout the country calling on their accounts while others work by telephone at desks. The salesmen receive no commission and are paid $34 a month in WAM.
Salespeople traveled in groups of 12 to 20 people and hotels sometimes give them favorable rates. They make at least five calls a day in the evenings to arrange to speak about Synanon at local groups. They did the media for local stores in promotion. There brochure has a box speaking on Synanon objectives on almost every page. Synanon had gone from pencils to desk items, tool kits, key chains and lighters; and aaargues it makes good, sound business sense to investor to spend advertising dollars on Synanon because when you do, you actually spend your advertising dollars twice–Not only do you buy a quality brand name product competitively priced, but you also invest in Synanon, “the original, most famous, grand, most successful of all drug addict and juvenile delinquent reeducation programs in America.”
Another trade magazine, The Counselor, published substantially the same thing.
Now Synanon claimed by February due to all this negative publicity its canceled ADGAP orders totaled $233,573.14, and it lost its contract with Alaska to give drug rehab advice suffered cancellation of $50,000 worth of donated supplies.
Synanon continued its lawsuits, announcing it would sue KGO, who’s art work backing up the gun purchase story was a photo of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle, and also sued Alvin Gambonini for statements he made on one of the telecasts.
By February more people were leaving and Synanon was getting smaller. Dederich said they no longer needed doctors or engineers because they could hire these people, the only people they need is those that know-how to play the game. Chuck had a special long game for evaluation. If someone in the audience believes that someone is not playing game right he taps person on shoulder and rotates in. They decided not to let people sleep and everyone in the foundations had to play the game straight through forty-eight hours. The games were to more personal.
Then in March of 1978 the Marin County grand jury, before which I testified and brought evidence, issued its report attacking Synanon for its child abuse, for the profits that flowed to Dederich, weapons, threats and also attacked local government authorities for their lack of carrying. Remarkably, the authorities refused to intercede as the report requested. Though local newspapers and broadcast media covered the report, they were largely silenced by lawsuits or threats of lawsuits from Synanon lawyers charging libel. The Associate Press did a study of Synanon’s efforts to discourage the press through the Synanon Retraction Program—letters threatened suit anytime Synanon’s name was mentioned.
Charles B. Weers, the foreman, authored the 8 page Grand Jury report. The Sheriff was to investigate child abuse, the Health Department to investigate residential licensing or operation of medical facility without a license. Marin was to look into requirements for a school and/or misuse of Medical funds, and the Sheriff should review deputy status of certain Synanon residents and look into nature of Synanon’s “security force and availability of weapons.” Stories of abuse from runaways filled the reports. They also questioned whether the game was suitable for small children and/or if the children were taught that Synanon is the only way and that the outside world is bad. It was also troubled by Synanon’s threat to enter all its children in the public school system which would double the attendance at the Tomales grammar school. The Report said in 1965 Synanon was given a use permit for drug rehabilitation, but it is now 50 times its original size with far broader activities. Three years ago Synanon had promised a master plan but it has never been presented.
The grand jury said that the people and neighbors in Marin were worried about rehabilitated ex addicts living in an “autocracy which refuses to accept the rules of the very society it proposes to help.” It also asked the IRS and the Board of Equalization to reevaluate Synanon’s tax status. The reports said fourteen runaways alleged mistreatment and were placed in Juvenile Hall from July 1st 1976 to June 30, 1977, while ranchers sent about 30 home and Synanon patrols intercepted others. One rancher had observed a black eye on a child. Another girl said she was forced to stand outside in the rain. It cited the reports of punching and corporal punishment from the declarations in my earlier case. It voiced concern of the use of corporal punishment given a recent Supreme Court ruling holding it was inappropriate, punishments must be administered in kindness and no instrument may be used nor any part of the body above the waist or below the knees touched, and shall only then be with medical personnel consulted. The Department of Justice defined the abuse as any act that endangers the physical or emotional health and development of the child. Thus it recommended proper authorities investigate as children could not be subjected to physical punishment and brainwashing as described in my cases. Where to draw the line on treatment, the report concluded, should be by professionals and not left to Synanon’s decisions. It noted children were being told if they runaway ranchers would shoot them. Some kids were told they were responsible for their parents’ drug addiction. In a film “Synanon child” it was stated children should not be raised by dope fiends but squares who run the Synanon school. The aforesaid performances at the school had been erratic; the school received Title I funds as an institution for Neglected Children until September 7th 1977 when Synanon then declined to reapply because it would have to meet certain educational requirements.
24 witnesses had testified and swore that small marriages were being arranged for 16-year-olds, that Dederich had ordered persons to be attacked as well as saying next would be there family; that corporal punishment for minor infractions has included beatings and made to run until exhaustion. Only 2 couples were exempt from changing partners. It was told that Joey Butler (see Escape From Synanon III) was punched and kicked if he did not wear his scarf. His 16-year-old sister was about to be given a boy to live with and a ” small marriage.” TJ inhere was further testimony that Synanon made any new person entering surrender all their possessions and become totally dependent. Bill Crawford testified he left in part because of the violence and the obsession with weapons.
Privately, Synanon limited permission to hitting a child only to Wilbur and Rod Mullen. Further, a law was to be As to its application. It also said there was to be no more ear pulling, or kicking in the ass.this
On January 24th 1978 it was ruled the school on the Home Ranch required a use permit which it did not have. But Synanon continued to run the school. The grand jury believed such permit should be required until a master plan is provided which they have been waiting for since 1974.
The report said other licenses should be in effect. The private school is residential –and may require a boarding license. The law requires a California Community Care license if providing non-medical residential care or have persons who are in need of personal services, supervision or assistance essential for sustaining daily living or protection of the individual. It noted there was no exception for an organization because it is a religion. The grand jury rejected the January 26 1976 opinion of Mr. Asher Rubin of Attorney General, which was also refuted by his accompanying social worker, that Synanon was not required to have a license as a Group Residential facility. The report noted that unlicensed facilities may not received referrals from probation departments, although it found none making same except possibility of Riverside County. It also said there is a problem of licensing for the infirmary.
It found use of Warfield and Jones as Marin deputy sheriffs inappropriate given their roles as Synanon enforcers. They stated concerns over excessive number of weapons. They furthered questioned the nonprofit status given the large amount of squares and substantial salaries.
It invited Synanon to prove its slogan “Synanon is everybody’s good neighbor.”
One of the grand jurors had personally helped arrange for the Dutch Boy Paints donation of the paint factory at 24th and Kansas now converted to residential quarters and storage space.
Marin Sherrif Montanos, of course, denounced the report, saying Synanon was a great asset in search and rescues: “I can say nothing but good about them.” He said Synanon had very few weapons in Marin although he could not say what they had in Badger. The County Board voted four to one to hold a hearing on the report but several complained that the report was unfounded. Supervisor Gary T. Giacomini called it rank hearsay. District attorney Bruce B. Bales, who will never win any prosecutor of the year award, said he knew of no wrongdoing involving Synanon and that he would not investigate as that was Sheriff Montanos job.
Synanon called the report McCarthyism and said they were all lawful abiding citizens. In reality only two supervisors were hot to investigate–Denis Rice and Barbara Boxer. Rice wondered if an organization that purchases such weapons is entitled to a nonprofit tax status.
The lack of agency follow-up, and in the case of Sherriff Montanos, outright denouncement, caught the attention of Dave Mitchell of The Points Reyes Light. Dave and his wife Cathy wrote articles for the small weekly, sold the ads, did the layout of the paper, and drove the papers to the local vendor boxes from which they were sold. Dave wrote an editorial hoping that Synanon would make the major changes the report wanted, comply with the law and continue its good works. When changes didn’t come, and authorities did nothing, Dave was hooked. At last, I had an ally.
Mitchell earlier had bought the Point Reyes Light for under $50,000. Armed with Stanford Journalism degree, he said he had the advantage of not having a boss to fight or get past any legal staff. The paper had 16 pages, and a 2,7000 circulation . It was Located 6 miles from Synanon’s front door.
Ken Blairon March 7, 1978 wrote that Synanon had taken in 14 new people from San Francisco in Santa Monica, 4 split, 5 moved into various community jobs and 5 were real “bugs,”Synanon’s term for the mentally unstable. The Synanon had learned nothing from my first litigation claiming it needed a license to take in people with any mental condition, and this memo was exactly what the health Department would have liked to have found.
The board of supervisors criticized Synanon declining to make an official appearance until May 19, l978 despite urgings. When Synanon appeared it attacked critics saying there is no health clinic, or airfield but this was pointed out as inconsistent with the record and further they noted attorney Howard Garfield said the population could quadruple in ten years from 700 to 3000. In response to the report the Department of Health assigned a full-time investigator to study Synanon. But the investigator was given restrictions by Synanon and the Department sued seeking judicial ruling relief.
On June 30 the zoning was changed to make a master plan for Synanon mandatory and to be submitted by October of 1978. A Marin County child abuse team was refused admission by Synanon and a court order was being sought.
After Tom Cardineau was tied up and beaten in March as an accused spy (see True History of Synanon violence), a formal request was made that Synanon/Marin deputy sheriffs Warfield and Jones who had been involved be suspended. The board ordered the sheriff to investigate the weapons question. The Department of Health discovered about $40,000 in Medi-Cal payments were made from January 1975 to October 1977. This, too, was being investigated. The County Assessor and the State Board of Equalization starting looking into the matter of Synanon’s tax exemption. It was recommended the next grand jury continue to check government agencies investigating Synanon.
All this I thought from Narda’s story on my evidence filed in the failed warrant actions. It had succeeded beyond expectations.
As the Grand Jury report was stirring things up, on March 12 Leonard Feather, famed jazz Critic and composer, wrote in the Los Angeles Times a story about the rehabilitation of famed jazz trombonist Frank Rehack as the real symbol of Synanon. However foolish Dederich may have become, he wrote, Synanon still knows how to convert derelicts into functioning citizens and the “Synanon environment still is based on compassionate understanding.”
Four days later, several Marin grand jurors complained they were being approached and harassed by Synanon members. Dan Garrett said the report was full of cheap shots, filthy venom and they would not take this “lying down” and “they will investigate them in other ways, then sue them all,” claiming the jurors hate Synanon because its religion was different and they should be more concerned over the failures of government intuitions.
On March 22nd Synanon invited 60 California religious and charitable groups to its ranches and proceeded to giveaway $250,000 worth of goods. The UFW, Unification Church and Black Panthers were included. The next day March 23rd an editorial appeared that all Marin County officials were denouncing the grand jury report except for Boxer and Rice. Rather than recommendation to investigate Synanon, Marin County seemed to be attacking the grand jury. Dave Mitchell thought this was all very “curious.” So he dug deeper investigating Synanon.
APRIL: the “Alliance for Preservation of Religious Liberties” formed in the month, of course—April. It included Sientology, Moonies and Children of God, Society for Krishna Consciousness, est and yes, Synanon, who donated supplies and equipment to the People Temple. it was to be a coalition to fight the ungodly, but never became of force because no leader would transfer any power; nor rarely show up.
In April, Laventhol & Horwath, an accounting firm, noted Synanon could have substantial income tax liability. Lawsuits against foundation were for compensatory damages of $1,580,000. Synanon said it doubted any losses would exceed $99,000. The Foundation was suing for $4138,000,000.
Dunn and Bradstreet said operating trends past several years had revenues declining in l975 and l976 and expenses rose. Net profit in 76 was $680,000. But net income was $4,050,000. Synanon got $2,070,000 for the Seawall. Net revenues in 77 were $2,813,000 for business activities with total sales of $11,388,000.
Now that Jady was taking over, Cook went from VP to President. Dede became Vice Chairman. New directors were Garfield, Dr. Sidney Finkelstien and Macyl Burke.
Synanon sold off 4 of its ten planes.
Steve Simon expanded his staff and scope of preserving Dederich’s genius. They began a CED lending library, CED pamphlet series, CED subscription service and a 200 page book on CED literature. For external publication there was a book being prepared for Ruth Carter Stapleton. “I’m Betty D.” was the first CED publication.
The Synanon archives would house the CED tape library. CED publications logged each day of CED court and was producing daily edited court excerpts on several topics. There was also created the Betty D. tape library.
The Synanon Print, Photo and Film archives were completed at the home place stored into four rooms of the Lodge Addition. Planning began to construct a concrete and cement block vault for fireproof and waterproof storage of all original CED writings and any tapes, the archives for selected legal and financial documents to be erected somewhere at the Home Place.
To complete the first CED fellowship, Simon encouraged everyone to use their resources stored in the archives to aid them in their work. In April of 1978 Ted Dibble took over Home Place Think Table having his own speeches edited. A notebook was established to keep review of the topics. On April 15th 1978 Phyllis Ross wrote to Cook saying his speech on the holy war was inspiring. She wanted to learn to “articulate our survival morality religion… I am so excited about our war effort. I believe that we will make an impact on the morality of this country… We will over come.”
Leon Levy and Dibble took a more militant approach to the circle activities in Synanon making same demand and expectations in circle work as they do in triangle work.ates were duplicated for a 2nd tape library, and deteriorating news clips were duplicated for the print archives. Steve Simon was to report monthly on the operations to Chuck Dederich’s personal secretary.
Larry Akey recommended they hold seminars for money on Synanon’s methods for “pests” houses (other drug rehabs).
On May 16, l978 Hon. Richard H. Breiner signed a Health Dept. inspection warrant. Christopher M. Brett, who I had been his chief source of information, in an affidavit said Synanon had received $40,000 in Medi-Cal payments for 1975 through 1977 and had affidavits concerning doctors giving vasectomies in Synanon facilities.
On May 23rd the Marin County planning commission rezoned Synanon’s property to a “planned district” designation requiring a master plan before any new construction was undertaken. Synanon had promised a master plan since August 25, l975 but never produced it. They gave Synanon to October 1 to present its plan.
The same date, Synanon thwarted a five-member Health Department inspection team which. per the warrant, tried to enter Synanon, by refusing to allow them to split up, to interview Synanon physicians or interview a resident without a court reporter present. It was going to follow them with a video camera. The team turned and left.
Synanon filed a memorandum to quash the inspection warrant. Synanon lawyer Adrian “Red” Williams wrote Synanon was “world famous” for its charitable works and claimed the Health Dept. was a pawn of Paul Morantz and Narda Zacchino who have initiated other governmental proceedings, including the Marin Grand Jury: “These are trumped-up, sham governmental investigations designed to destroy Synanon to gain collateral advantage in litigation Morantz has instituted against Synanon. The Department of Health has been duped by Morantz and Zacchino or someone in the department is conspiring hand-in-hand with these two individuals.”
On June 1, Brett went back to court with a declaration that Synanon was intimidating witnesses. Splitees refused to speak fearing retaliation. Those who had kids still there feared loss of visitation. Synanon claimed the medical group was separate from Synanon.
At the same time Brett, at my request, was in San Francisco monitoring the Butler children rescue from a distance (See Escape From Synanon III). He confirmed to the police they had weapons and were not likely to obey the order I obtained giving custody of the 3 minors to their grandmother, Ernestine White. At 3 PM Ms. White provided the order and asked for the children and was told they would not comply. 28 deputies then surrounded the block long Synanon facility and pointed rifles and hand guns. Once inside, for two hours the warrants were discussed with Synanon. Ms. White’s said one officer said the kids are coming and the only question is when and how. She then said that they threatened to drive to Badger in force to get Joey unless Synanon gave him up. Synanon agreed.
But afterwards San Francisco made an apology. Deputy Police Chief Kevin Mullen met with Synanon on Sunday and another meeting was being arranged with District Attorney Joseph Freitas. San Francisco Police Chief Charles Gain told Synanon he was unaware that the incident was being planned. He said the Sergeant who ordered the officers to act did so on information he had been given. He returned with a Synanon large box of protest letters. Famed San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote the Mayor, chief and the sheriff look worried because the police sent 28 police officers and deputies arriving in 13 different cars. Caen suggested official apologies. But the worse came from San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. He not only apologized but he passed blame. The police, he wrote the Foundation, only acted on information given to them by Los Angeles attorney “Paul Morantz.”
On June 26 a Newsweek article appeared– “The Trouble at Synanon.” It noted Synanon had advertised in Daily Journal for “ Exciting opportunities for trial lawyers… And disbarred attorney’s …Large varied practice includes a $76 million libel suit against Time, a 40 million civil conspiracy suit against Hearst Corporation. Compensation and pay includes room, board, complete healthcare, monthly stipend and unique Synanon lifestyle (the ad itself had been taped by office jokers on my chair with a note saying here was an offer I couldn’t refuse). The article said ABC, Visalia Times were sued, too, and last week Washington police issued an arrest warrant for Dederich for assault of Washington photographer. And in March the Marin grand jury had asked state agencies to investigate child abuse. Quoted was Julie Moncharsh declaration I had prepared and filed saying she lived at Synanon from 1971 to 1976 and was always being hit. Dederich was cited saying it would surround health department inspectors with ten guys twice their size and wrote of the purchase of ammunition including armor piercing bullets. The article called it all paranoia. Jack Hurst who had left after seventeen years (1976) and now a director of services for mentally handicapped adults, was quoted saying Dederich mandated vasectomies and abortions and when Dederich took a new mate everyone had to swap mates.
The articles cited the salaries and quoted Marin County supervisor Barbara Boxer as saying Synanon had lost touch with the real world.
Peter Dillon, a grand juror and an attorney, it was noted, was getting late-night anonymous telephone calls condemning him for his persecution of Synanon saying they would make sure “God will kill you.” He was followed by a Synanon marked car. At one point in shopping center a man approached his three-year-old daughter and asked why her father was doing mean things to Synanon.
Synanon meanwhile was in Washington, D.C., with Ed Siegel negotiating the purchasing the Boston house at 1711 Massachusetts NW, a 270 unit apartment building five blocks from the White House in order to set up its Distribution Network operations in the nation ‘s capital and to get close to President Jimmy Carter, renaming the building the “Embassy.” Already Synanon had obtained White House influence through the President’s sister and his advisor Dr. Peter Bourne, a fan of the New Age Movements, who also was trying to bring Werner Erhard and est to the White House. Bourne had extended Synanon an invitation to Washington in April. The Boston building was partly in a zone that allowed non-profit organizations to maintain offices. Seigel never mentioned in negotiations that their nonprofit status might be in doubt according to recent media reports that Synanon had been transformed into a violent cult. Synanon agreed to purchase for $5,600,000 with the closing deferred to January of 1979. Synanon made a down payment of $250,000 and was given permission to occupy the top 2 floors of the building immediately
While the Big Shots were there, NBC’s Nightly News Segment 3, produced by Pat Lynch (I provided information but did not go on air) on Synanon was broadcast. The show told of Synanon’s transformation to a cradle-to-grave society, its wealth, rules, changing partners, fears of splitees, weapon purchases and growing violence. It even told of our rescue of Ms. White’s grandchildren (see Escape from Synanon 3). Dederich patched into the Dan Sorkin show on the Wire and made another Battle Cry speech when he heard what I did. He said he wanted to organize the Sikhs, the United Farm Workers, the Unification Church and Scientology, giving them all space in their Washington Embassy. Synanon sent letters to NBC, ABC, Time and the Hearst Corporation accusing them of McCarthyism and advised an antitrust and conspiracy suit would be filed against all of them. Copies were sent to President Carter, Vice President Mondale and all justices of the Supreme Court.
Synanon applied its usual tactics with the existing Boston House tenants, first offering them money ($800 by May 15, $400 by June 1) to leave early then making a lot of noise and actions to make them uncomfortable and want to leave. While the sale would not be completed until January, in May Synanon residents began occupying the 70 apartments on the six and seventh floors, took over the security desk, had meeting in the lobby, prohibited use of the parking lot, removed the gray “Boston House” insignia from the entrance, kept the door unlocked and had loud games at night. Some tenants told the media they did not want to move but they were afraid. B & R Movers claimed they alone had moved 10 occupants in the last few weeks. Tenant Arthur Grellis, an aide to Senator Adlai Stevenson, a hero during the Cuban Crisis and former Vice President, complained one day in the elevator a Synanon man told him to be polite, not make any noise and comply or he would get his “teeth and head bashed in.” When the elevator reached the basement and a shaken Grellis got out the man said to his fellow Synanite, “See how quiet they become would you show a little force.”
The charges of tenant harassment, setting up offices out of zone, not letting building inspectors inspect, caused actions by the Board of Zoning scheduling hearings, and the broadcast of NBC’s Segment 3, news of Synanon’s gun purchases and the threats to ABC and Time magazine executives during their stockholder meetings (their wives were in danger, naming them), kept the media outside the Boston House around-the-clock. It ended when Douglas Chevalier tried to photograph Dederich leaving the building. According to two police officer witnesses Howard Garfield grabbed at him and Dederich chased him down the street with a cane. Even though Chevalier said he did not want to press charges arrest warrants issued for Dederich and Garfield. A Synanon spokesman said Chevalier tripped and fell against a bush while Dederich tried to walk around him. Synanon was abandoning the Boston House because the “Nation’s capital is not a fit place for religious freedom.” They would, he said, file complaints against everyone “in sight.”
Rather than surrendering on the warrants, Dederich and his Big Shots fled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where they began negotiations to buy for $190,000 the Raymond Redding 167-acre farm with a pre-Civil War 10-room brick house just a quarter of a mile of Nation Park land from the Dwight D. Eisenhower farm and historic site where the late President’s widow, Mamie Eisenhower, lives. Ed Siegel wrote a letter to all senators and congressmen saying Synanon was leaving as Washington D.C. was not “a fit place…to pursue Constitutional guaranteed rights.” They filed suit against Bernstein to get their deposit back claiming that Synanon did not know that the floor load capacity. Bernstein countered the real reason for Synanon leaving was the unfavorable publicity was forcing them to move and Charles Dederich wanted to escape prosecution for assault. Bernstein further filed a counterclaim that Synanon breached the agreement for restoration costs, for the rent for the 35 apartment vacated for Synanon’s top floors and for the losses of future rents from tenants who were moving out due to Synanon harassment.
Dederich and his entourage moved on to Bermuda and then Europe settling in Formia, Italy. There they worked on setting up European Synanon branches. to bank accounts were opened in Switzerland and A million dollars was deposited in a bank account in Liechtenstein without reporting it to customs in violation of Federal law. Synanon established a corporation there. Dederich had his followers try to arrange a meeting with the Pope but Dederich was rebuffed. Then Dederich did something he had not done in 20 years. He took a drink of alcohol, then another, and then went past the money. He got drunk every night and invited the Big Shots to join him.
Word of the drinking got back to Synanon and soon, after many years of abstinence, the parties began and the booze poured.
Garfield then left Synanon in September. Rumors were he felt CED went bazookas, the next notion was going to be group sex, and/ or he believed it had lost its philosophical and religious underpinnings. Others have said, Garfield reacted to Dederich’s plans to get Phil Ritter and Paul Morantz. Garfield, who went on to be named years later a “Super Lawyer ” by the magazine never talked claiming attorney-client privilege. But the same does not apply to criminal communications, and per the memos (see Fall of Synanon II and True Story of Synanon violence) Garfield knew what was going on. Robson reported to him. Most likely Howard was afraid if he talked Synanon might get him, he might get disbarred and/or he might go to jail. Or all of the above.
The S. F. Examiner paid Synanon 2 million to settle the conspiracy suit. Apparently lawyers had paid splitees to burglarize and steal Synanon tapes. In the summer, in volume 18 of the Humanistic Psychologyvolume 18, Steve Simon’s article “Synanon: Toward Building A Humanistic Organization” appeared. According to the article, in 1974 in 1975 Simon had been at my alma mater University of Southern Californiaas an associate professor.
In other news, In August, 11 members of Church of Scientology were indicted for infiltration, and burglarizing IRS and obstructing justice.
And the State Board of Equalization, claiming Synanon could no longer prove its fast always were exclusively for rehabilitation, eliminated Synanon’s property tax exemptions on $10 million worth of property. And a charitable trust division of the Atty. Gen.’s office began to question the $500,000 preretirement bonus paid to Dederich in 1977.
The Synanon “legal house” in San Francisco employed hundred and 40 persons including 7 lawyers, investigators and paralegals and other residents. A staff member in Marin County explained that County officials did not want to become involved in disputes was Synanon because “Bill sue us. They have more people in their legal Department then we do in the County Counsel’s office and the keep us tied up in litigation for years. We won’t have the time or the staff to handle any other cases. By example, Synanon filed a $55 million lawsuit against the County after its grand jury report came out. It named as defendants the County, the supervisors, the planning commission and the 19 members of the grand jury, Juvenile Court employees and the sheriff’s and probation departments.the lawsuit claimed that the government was responsible for Dederich having to flee California on March 20 in fear for his life.
In September, Dederich having refused to appear at deposition in Rains case, and Judge Raymond Choate not buying the alleged resignation, held a default hearing on September 19, 1978. Former Synanon members testified to Terri not wanting to be there, her being dragged around and to Synanon brainwashing methods. Terri Raines testified to wanting to leave and being told she wasn’t going anywhere. A “buddy” she stated dragged her by the wrist when she attempted to disobey orders. She said she was told she had nothing on the outside and that her husband didn’t want any partner of her. If he did why hadn’t become to see her?and response to a question from me, Police Ofc. Nicolas Lorentzs aid he would have taken action had he known she was being held against her will. her husband testified how he was refused to communicate with her and Dr. Frederick Hacker said the organization’s take needs were “identical to an indistinguishable from what is usually referred to as brainwashing.”These techniques he stated were not proper medical treatment. Judge Choate found Synanon conduct “irresponsible: and “unpardonable.” He stated he had no doubt the woman walk “was placed in desperate circumstances” and made to suffer “emotional distress she would not have suffered otherwise.”he said she was mistreated and deliberately coerced. He ordered $300,000 in damages, $200,000 of which was punitive damages; a story Narada Zacchino immediately wrote in the Times and was picked up again by the national media.
For a moment it seemed my involvement with Synanon might be over; that I might be able to concentrate my time on trying to get my girlfriend back. But such thoughts were short lived. In fact, the celebration lasted only two days, ending with the news of what had happened then in Berkeley.
On September 21a\st the attempted murder of Phil Ritter occurred (see True History of Synanon violence)—two Imperial Marines—later identified under oath as Hubbard and Musico—in Berkeley were beating Ritter’s head in with clubs when chased off by a witness. This finally awakened the Marin County Board of Supervisors and by 5 to 0 vote it told Synanon to become “everybody’s good neighbor or get out of the county.” Switching sides were Robert A., Roumiguiere and Gary T. Giacomini. They now demanded the Synanon Deputies be dismissed. Further the board told Synanon to obtain permits and submit a master plan as required the grand jury report.
Synanon did not appear but sent another letter accusing of religious prejudice. Instead it invited the people of Marin to an open house to see for themselves. Those in attendance worried about the weapons and fact 100 Synanon members had signed election petition permitting candidate sheriff Montanos to waive his $730 filing fee.
Local ranchers at hearings testified to their problems, and Alvin Gambonini told the story of his beating and NBC’s Pat Lynch told of being surrounded while filming. County Counsel Doug Maloney said when they tried to investigate treatment of children they were told to get a search warrant. The most dramatic moment however, was when Barbara Boxer stood up and read the declaration of Julie Moncharsh into the record. It was the declaration I had prepared. Supervisor Rice wanted to know what Synanon had planned for the weapons.
A few days later deputy sheriff Al Howenstein, 39, born in St. Louis announced he was opposing Montanos for sheriff election, noting Montanos dishing the grand jury report and promising if elected he would investigate Synanon and dismiss Jones and Warfield. Howenstein said he had information there were weapons at Tomales. Montanos 51, seeking 6th term, had been called unbeatable and boasted “I’m in my time.” Howenstein won.
The day after the Ritter beating, Synanon tool Sandie Durgin, despite not being able to get information on kids she had placed from Las Vegas into Synanon, spoke to a Mrs. Longo worried about her child being in Synanon as sbe had talked to Jeanette Prandi of the Marin County Sheriff’s Department who told her specifically if she placed her son in Synanon she would never see him again. Ms. Durgin told Synanon she calmed her down, telling her to ignore what was being said in the media. A few months earlierMr. Dehn had stayed at Walker Creek in order to play a game with her sister. Synanon arranged to pick her up at the airport and later return her.
Marin politics brought me back. Jack Harrison of SCRAM involved in voter registration and political education was now running for County Democratic Central Committte in the 4th District. Marin was scared Synanon would seek additional elective positions. Worse, Synanon had turned to another of its hip pocket politicians,State assemblyman Herschel Rosenthal, for help. Rosenthal attached to a nonrelated bill a rider that exacted Synanon from all licensing laws. Not having gained any attention it had passed all committees except the final one, the financial committee. I received a phone call from a Marin Deputy County Counsel who told me that Supervisor (now United States Sen.) Barbara Boxer wanted to recruit my assistance. As Synanon was a constituent she did not want to take direct action and incur their wrath if she was unsuccessful. What the county Marin wanted was for me, a Los Angeles lawyer, to defeat the bill.
My boss, Donald Cohen, said don’t do it. He reasoned that if Synanon was entertaining murdering me, this could be the final straw on the haystack. For me, there was no choice. I had with this time and effort into protecting people by convincing the Health Department Synanon was endangering people by taking them in 4 conditions they were not licensed to do so. Could I watched all that go up in smoke? I prepared packages of documents which I had delivered to aids for each Congressmen and contacted each office. The bill was defeated by one vote.
Years later as Assembly man Rosenthal was sitting in the back seat of his convertible waiving at the crowds at the Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade as he rode amongst the honored. To this date, he probably still wonders who was that man who ran out of the crowd and popped him with two water balloons.
6 days after the Ritter beating, Larry Akey reported on starting a Synanon house in Germany, stating it had a prosperous economy to which their business ventures should be successful. They wanted several people who were bilingual. Ironically, Akey commented due to their past experiences, “there is no sympathy with terrorist in Germany.” Also he commented on his feelings of discomfort about the existence of Nazism.
On his own property, through which Synanon had a road easement, chasing an injured buck Gambonini was told to “drop his gun” gun and come out with “your hands up.” When he explained what he was doing he was told to call Synanheon next time before coming on his own property with a weapon.
Ms. White had told me her grandchildren and concerns Synanon would try to kill me and former Synanon attorney Harold Benjamin called to warn me they had my address. I purchased a shotgun and told a reporter so Synanon would know. By raising the question after the beating of Ritter that I would be next, I hoped it would curtail Synanon by not wanting to prove me correct. I took many steps and went to the authorities seeking help. But in the end, all I could do, I knew, was wait for the inevitable.
Following the Ritter attack,in fear for themselves and others, members of the network of friends (splitees) gave her report to the Atty. Gen.’s office. It described that Synanon had once been nonviolent but now it’s members believes in violence and were being urged to committed by Synanon management. They describe the training of the Imperial Marines and listed numerous attacks in beatings on others. They mention Synanon had 5 safe houses, one in New York with the Moonies, St. Paul, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. The report ended stating that Synanon had been broadcasting my address and phone number over the Wire asking when someone was going to take care of. 18 people identified themselves and offered to testify, knowing Synanon would eventually discover that they had so done. One of them, Jack Miller, was a former Imperial Marine.
Then on October 10, the end of Synanon began. Having had small communities not do anything about their violence, Synanon believed it could succeed in Los Angeles as well; never knowing that during my journalism days I had met John van de Kamp, the current Dist. Atty., and we admired each other. The idea that Synanon would put a Rattlesnake in my mailbox did not sit well (see True Story of the Rattlesnake in the Mailbox). A media that had long been bullied by Synanon now had a story Synanon could not do anything about. It became the most publicized story in the nation. Across the Santa Monica Evening Outlook banner large letters summed up a nation’s shock: “Rattler Death Trap.”
On Oct 11 Cohen moved my Synanon files out and told the mediaof my colt studies. Sure enough, a few days later the office was burglarized. Dr.heAvid Underman said “most certainly” I could have died if I had not received prompt medical attention. The Dept of Justice Organized Crime and Criminal Intelligence Branch of state received from former Synanon members details of prior beatings and organized a Synanon task force. A California Highway patrolman identified driver license photos for Kenton and Musico who he pulled over near my house because their license plate numbers were altered with blue tape.
On Oct 12 I had a hospital press conference. My hand was swollen and wrapped in gauze. I spoke of danger of brainwashing and the threat to freedom from our occupation with self-help groups. I was asked who did this and as I could not say yet who did I just responded that I was told I was on a Synanon enemies list. “They believe that they are going to be the saviors for the world. They’re going to tell everyone else how to live. Those people who put the snake in my mail box did not think of themselves as criminals. I am sure they think they are serving some higher purpose as did Manson’s followers. They are compelled to convey and protect the ultimate truth.” I added “Synanon had become a terrorist group involved in a holy was against persons who oppose it.”
I spoke of Patty Hearst and said her case should be reexamined, and I warned that there would be soon other cult related violence.
I said I could go out and make a million dollars today by simply telling people I have it…come get it. These organizations say reason and logic are the booby prize…they seduce people into their grasp with the promise of catharsis.
I also joked I was going to call a conference but a reporter told me no one would come. I needed a bigger event. So I put the snake in the mail box and let it bite me in order to have the conference today. While everyone laughed, I realized that was a mistake; that Synanon would ultimately say that was the plan.
Detectives flew in a police chopper to Badger 225 miles north of Los Angeles, The car involved had 600 miles just put on it and had been checked out by Joe Musico. Kenton and Musico were arrested. Kenton’s fingerprint would later be found in the car and Musico confessed to a jailhouse snitch.
Stan Kenton now 66 and in bad health was ill and was shocked. Family posted $25,000 bail placed by Municipal Judge Gabriel Guiterrez and Lance was released on Oct. 13, Friday the 13. Musico was still in and needed $50,000 bail.
Oct 12 Jack Hurst, Chuck Dederich’s former No.1 boy, last of the originals, who had left after being demoted to a truck driver, said former Synanon members were preparing a new 62 page report on violence for the State Attorney General office. he had said he would not rest until somebody pays for what happen to Phil Ritter. Hurst then came home and found his own dog hung by its leash, with a warning note attached. Hurst would go to work for other drug rehabs but eventually passed away from Hepatitis C. Virus that he acquired from long ago heroin use.
On October 24 Alvin Gambonini responded to a knock on his door and found a young boy with the note pinned to his shirt. Alvin read the note: “Dear Alvin: word has come back to us that you have taken an active interest in many of our former residents. We understand that you generously provide food, shelter and legal advice for these people. We hear, too, that you provide transportation for former residents to Petaluma or Novato.
“This letter will introduce you to Alan White, a young man who came to Synanon a few weeks ago and now wishes to leave and return home. Since you have been so generous in the past, we have advised Alan that he should ask your help.
“We look forward to further cooperation with you. Your friendly neighbors at Synanon.”
Gambonini got the boy home.
In October, after an 18 month probe the House Subcommittee on International Organizations recommended a task force investigate the Moonies. Then in November came the People’s Temple mass murder and suicides in Guyana. The comparisons between Dederich and Jim Jones were very clear to the media.
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Challenging Synanon can be hazardous to health and wealth
TIME Magazine, USA
Oct. 23, 1978
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday October 23, 1978
“Attorney Paul Morantz unlocked the door of his house in Los Angeles last week and put his left hand into the mailbox. “I felt a sharp pain, and then it felt as though my hand was in a vise,” he recalls.
“When he pulled his hand back, he brought with it a 41/2-ft. diamondback rattlesnake, its fangs buried near his left thumb. He managed to shake off the snake and ran screaming to a neighbor, who applied a tourniquet that saved Morantz from almost certain death. Fire department paramedics chopped off the snake’s head with a shovel, and discovered that the rattles had been removed so that the snake could attack without warning.
“Two days later Lance Kenton, 20, the son of Bandleader Stan Kenton, and Joseph Musico, 28, were taken into custody by Los Angeles police in connection with the rattlesnake attack. Both men are members of Synanon, a drug rehabilitation group based in Badger, Calif.
“Three weeks earlier Lawyer Morantz had won a $300,000 judgment against Synanon for a married couple who said that the wife was kidnapped and abused by members of the organization. From his hospital bed, where he was listed for a time in guarded condition, Morantz said: “I’ve been told that inside Synanon I’m on their enemies list.” But Synanon Lawyer Dan Garrett insisted that the group had had no part in the rattlesnake attack. Said he: “Synanon does not and will not condone, support or harbor any individual engaged in such activities.”
“Still, what happened to Paul Morantz is only the latest in a series of curious misfortunes that have befallen people who have challenged Synanon in court, in print or on the air. Among the other victims:
— “Phillip Ritter, a Berkeley, Calif, accountant, who last year won (but later lost) custody of his child from his Syna-non-member wife, was jumped by two men outside his home on Sept. 21 and severely beaten. “It was the usual Synanon method of operation,” says Jack Hurst, a friend and ex-president of Synanon who quit the group in 1976. “The short hair, the baseball bats, the doctored license plates.” Ritter is currently in hiding.
— “Patricia Lynch, a producer for NBC, filmed a report on Synanon activities that was aired last June. Later, she says, two men with close-cropped hair and carrying tape recorders and cameras turned up at her Manhattan apartment building, asking tenants about her habits and the layout of her apartment. Since then, she has been shadowed by two men with shaved heads who told her they were from the Synanon Committee for Responsible American Media (SCRAM). She quotes one of them as saying: “The goal of SCRAM is to get your life.”
— “ABC President Elton Rule and Chairman Leonard Goldenson were asked by Synanon representatives at the network’s annual meeting last May whether the network had considered hiring bodyguards for them and their wives. Synanon and its founder, Charles Dederich, have filed a $42 million slander suit against ABC and its station in San Francisco, KGO-TV, over several KGO news reports on Synanon.
— “Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief Hedley Donovan was approached on Sept. 27 outside his Manhattan apartment building by two men who carried film and taping equipment, and said they represented SCRAM. When Donovan rebuffed their request for an interview, one of the men told him: “We are going to ruin your life, Mr. Donovan.” Synanon this year filed a $76,750,000 libel suit against Time Inc. because of TIME’S Dec. 26, 1977, story about Synanon. The organization’s members and backers have picketed Time Inc.’s Rockefeller Center headquarters, attempted to disrupt the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting there last April, and sent hundreds of strongly worded letters to Donovan and other Time Inc. executives. “I dedicate my life to harassing you and your family,” one writer promised.
“Dederich has not commented recently about the alleged harassment or the libel suits. But last winter he said of Synanon’s critics: “I’m going to make them as nervous about the safety of their children and grandchildren as I am about mine. We never start anything. We never do and never have, but nobody’s going to mess with us. Nobody.”
“Synanon’s resident population has dwindled from 1,700 to 900 in the past six years. Some former members say they left in dismay at the group’s evolution from an earnest and widely praised rehabilitation organization to a rich (current assets: almost $30 million) but capriciously governed cult.
“Synanon announced in January that it had bought $63,000 in weapons and ammunition for its own protection, and ex-members say it has developed a squad known as the “imperial marines,” who are trained in martial arts and commando tactics. Whether some members have decided that those tactics should include assassination by snakebite is a question that may be answered at the trial of Lance Kenton and Joseph Musico.
Newsweek on October 23rd 78 wrote of the investigation. Lance, it said, was a perfectly behaved quite young boy until his father moved him into Santa Monica headquarters to help his teenage daughter Dana who they had concerns over. I met Dana at a “Network of Friends” picnic and she apologized to me for her brother. Later I received a letter from Dr. Doug Robson’s father who apologized for what he believed Robson’s certain involvement.
At the same time, Time Magazine headlined “The snake in the mailbox” with sub heading “Challenging Synanon can be hazardous to health.” It described as well the harassment of Pat Lynch, Elton Rule, Chairman Leonard Goldenson last May when asked if they had hired bodyguards for themselves and their wives. Time editor in chief Hedley Donovan reported on September 27th at his Manhattan apartment two men with a camera saying they represented SCRAM When Donavan would not be interviewed one said “we are going to ruin your life, Mr. Donovan.
Very few northern California media stories about Synanon appeared in all the Synanon groupie publications, like San Raphael Independent and Fresno Bee, except for story on snake attack and then they relied on wire copy even though Synanon was in their backyard. The Examiner continue to gravel, even obeying Synanon demands for retraction re rattlesnake story on front page wherein it was added organization proclaimed its innocents.
Newsweek ran another Synanon story on Nov 2. In November an early special thanksgiving dinner was thrown by Synanon for neighbors.
When asked by a reporter what I was thankful of I humorously told the reporter that fighting cults had given me religion. He printed it as if I was serious. Next time I was asked that question I said “antiivenom.”
On Nov 27 newsweek cover story was “Death in the Jungle:” “California, home of the Manson Family and Synanon, had never produced a stranger cult then the People’s Temple — — and its bizarre leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, 47.”
On November 28, 1978 a father smartly removed his daughter from Synanon but his accompanying Marin Deputy Sheriff, R. “Gunny” Richmond commented that he was in favor of Synanon and thought it should not be considered with other “sect” and was aware of the large Synanon turn out at Sheriff Montanous retirement party. Synanon members had filed a sufficient petition that had allowed Montanous to have his filing fee waived when he ran forsheriff.
It was now being pointed out Dorothy Salant, who had married Dan Garrett, was the cousin of sheand, CBS New Chief.
Backed by splitees declarations saying tapes of Dedrich calling for attacks on it enemy, a joint task police coalition descended upon Synanon. Supervising and leading the search warrant raid on Synanon (See Fall of Synanon II and III) was Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Trott (once an original Singer in the group The Highwaymen and was famous for obtaining the first ever murder conviction wherein the body was never found (victim disappeared in Europe and Trott went abroad to trace their trail) and while I never wrote the book I had met with him once with the idea of writing a book on the case. The key witness, however, wanted money from me I did not have and without him I didn’t really have the necessary information. Still, Synanon had bad luck. Through circumstances the people handling the rattlesnake investigation may have had a little extra motivation. Synanon had messed with someone they knew and I think they respected.
The Synanon search warrant team involved multiple police forces and state agencies descending on the Badger Home Place. A nervous Deputy D.A., Mike Carroll, wore a bullet proof vest. Synanon anticipated the raid and had moved the tapes. Also under Steve Simon’s direction, tapes were being erased. Other tapes later produced had bigger gaps than Watergate tapes. As the police were leaving, empty handed, an officer spied 3 tapes fallen behind a cabinet. One of them was entitled, “The New Religious Posture—Don’t Fuck with Synanon.” The speaker was Charles Dederich.
On Dec 4 Newsweek continue if its education of cults in the media. If’s story “how they bend Minds” was over a photo of Japanese Kamikaze pilots ready to die in name of discipline and love of country; Hitler convincing to massacring 6 million jews and Manson memorizing his groupies to murder total strangers with sadistic pleasure. A former Moonie, Erica Heftmann said she had been drilled and instructed to kill. The article described groups as isolated from the world and pressured by their peers to accept the leaders power and paranoia and they put their welfare totally in the leaders hands, Cults, it said, use the same methods of indoctrinating converts. The cults, it was written, know the type they are looking for. Dederich and Synanon preferred drug addicts who they can find for life, Jones sought out the depressed, especially poor Blacks an outcasts who would want a communal home. Religious groups like Moonie, Children of God and Hare Krishna’s preferred college students of above-average intelligence and idealism. Margit Singer who interviewed more than 300 former cult members said no more the third had actual psychological distress at time of their induction. Recruiters hit college campus at exam time to look for students who are having difficulties or suffering from broken romances. The Moonie’s, it said, have the most sophisticated methods of getting converts with “love bombing.” They draw the lonely students into conversation with invitation to dinner that led to a weekend retreat, all the time not been told that there are the Moonie’s– a religion. They are subjected to games, singing, exercise, discussions, and little sleep. A monitor is assign to Company each person, even to the bathroom. If asked leave they are pressured to stay for one more party. Once they said they were going back to school or work, there are convinced to stay the full week. From there, it is most join. My friend, Dr. Frederick Hacker described the “washing stage” as isolating from family’s friends and contact with outside world. Then they are made to feel guilty about their past lives and recognize need to be reborn like all knowing brothers and sisters into a new family. Some cults, he said, give new names; the forming of a new personality is gradual, and sometimes involves sense of preservation, also lack of sleep, change in diet and exhaustion rounds of checking,
One observer was quoted as saying some people like being told that they don’t have to think and just accept what they are told. By example at Synanon, recruits are told we will do your thinking for you and Reverend Moon says independent thought is the tool of Satan. A critical point in conversion is when recruits makes a major commitment act, which maybe turning over bank account, joining a drug and/or sex orgy. Once one has done something major it becomes more difficult to ever state to yourself that you made a mistake and one will rationalize what falls to justify the commitment. The leaders often become “father” and control sex and even arranged marriages. To bind members together leaders create an image of evils outside the group. For many, the enemy was the natural parents. The cults allow people to hate without feeling guilty and provide a safe group sanctioning aggression against the enemy, observed Hacker. Many states that if one defects he will die at the hands other enemy’s.
. It was a powerful and accurate story, a piece of history I knew I had helped make possible. And in only a month, Pres. Carter would free Patty Hearst.
U.S.C., on way to a national championship year, had an extra game in December in Hawaii. To get away from it all, I went over to the game, with my good friend Shaun first stopping and his home in Kaui. Early one morning I picked up their phone for them and the voice on the other end was Phil Bourdette. Startled, I asked how they knew where I was and he said he called my home and a girl staying there said here was a number I could be reached at. So I had to break the news to my friends Synanon and their telephone number. Then I got a call from the district attorney’s office. They explain, although they could not yet tell me, that something was found on a tape during the execution of the search warrant. They wanted me back in Los Angeles and back under police protection. They were going to arrest Charles Dederich.
In early December 2 Arizona Sheriff Robert D. Rathbone and wo deputies plus a team of 11 California law officers ded by detectives Marv Engquist and Jerry Rogersdescended on a sparsely developed section of Lake Havesu. streets and every direction or blockaded by deputies on and with pistols and shotguns. Los Angeles District Attorney John Watson, along and other law enforcement members from Los Angeles, found Chuck in his home in a stupor, staring straight ahead with empty bottle of Chivas Regal in front of him. he had continued to drink since he had returned to Lake Havasu. He was moved by ambulance 63 milesto a jail ward of Arizona Mohave General Hospital in Kingman and after posting a $500,000 bail was later flown to a Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix. The police seized 12 more tapes and 35 documents, including the Think Tale Summaries which included multiple entries on calls for violence against the enemiesand comparisons of Synanon to the Mafia. An extradition hearing was scheduled for January. Dederich was free on $10,000 bail and remained in hospital under heavy guard, ill from drinking, heart ailment, obesity and deep depression. ( For details see Arrest of Charles Dederich ).
Dan Garrett announced Synanon were tried add Dederich declared incompetent and placed under legal guardianship.
Synanon filed a motion a motion to quash the warrant that obtained New Religious Posture Tape contending warrant was over broad and lacked sufficient evidence to support the search. This further confirms suspicion something indeed incriminating was on the tape recording. Carroll and Watson refuted each argument, pointing to the ex-members declarations concerning Synanon violence, the Wire, the taping system, and the constant “drum beat” to get Paul Morantz and the enemies of Synanon.
But I wasn’t going to chance the outcome. Before the hearing, I moved ex parte in Santa Monica, in front of Judge Lawrence Rittenband, arguing that if there was an illegal search and seizure I was not part of it and the contents of the tape may be relevant in my civil lawsuit against Synanon for the Rattlesnake. Therefore I ask the Judge to sign an order to serve on the Tulare court stating that if it’s quashed this warrant instead of returning the tape to Synanon, the sheriffs would get it to Santa Monica to determine if it was relevant in my case and should be given to me. Synanon lawyer Adrian Williams called this “Young lawyer” talk and Judge Rittenband responded sometimes the best comes out of the mouth of babes. He granted my order and now the contents of the tape would be known even if the warrant was quashed. Williams leaned over to me and said, “Paul, we don’t want to kill you… we want you to live and collect damages from you.” “Will see who collects against who,” I responded.
But it did not turn out my motion was necessary. Not only did the Judge in Tulare uphold the warrant, he allowed the tape to be played in the court room as the public had the “right to know.”
And so the world heard a calm Chuck Dederich explain to their followers how Synanon had commenced violence, was now training the Imperial Marines and would get out the message that those who messed with Synanon could be “killed dead. Physically dead (see True Story of Rattlesnake).”
Unfortunately, the tape ended with the threat of getting the lawyer’s wife and then his kids. Trudy was present, along with my marshal bodyguards, in my home when it was played. I saw the look in her eyes. I knew it was only time before she left again.
When news of the Dederich arrest occurred the S.F. Examiner relied on wire stories, had it reviewed by the lawyers, trimmed it and ran it on page 2. SCRAM sent out 100 retraction demands in the Bay area alone. Only the Examiner responded. Its reporters did a mock up in frustration saying Synanon makes the People’s Temple look like the Ladies Aid Society then apologized for the statement.
Time Magazine on December 11 also took shots at Moon, Scientology, Synanon, Hare Krisham and Children of God, and quoted L. Ron Hubbard: “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” Moonies, it said, sanction lying for good cause. Its fictional drug center was an example. Jones’ suicide drills, paranoia, brutality, weapons, malnutrition, sickness, rampant women to flirt with government officials was laid out.
Time in Dec. 18 wrote of Jones saying, “Mothers you must keep your children under control. They must die with dignity.” Shrieking, gun shots, cyanide sprayed into the mouths of infants and fleering were shot in the back.
In Dec 1978 Dave Gilmour began to have second thoughts. In San Francisco he told Bernie Kolb he was involved with the Eidson beating and called it terrible. He said he had done many terrible things that he regretted and was scared. He said Dan Garrett was a terrible man and he was scared of him. He couldn’t stand it and had to leave. A few days later he split.
In terms of Synanon, the best reporting came from Narda Zucchino and Robert Sam Ansom. In a 3-part story in Los Angeles times, Narada accurately described as Synanon against view the outside world as hostile, loyalty supplanted self-help as the guiding principle of the group and led to a breakdown of Synanon’s prior family orientated social order. She noted that in the 1974 creation of the “punk squad” which led to more than 650 members in 2 years, had opened the door for fitting and pushing children around and vacating the old rule against violence. While the sheriffs Department and Marin did not find evidence of child abuse, she cited Julie Moncharsh declaration I filed as revealing the beatings that took place of children. She noted Dan Garrett had said “we do what a proper American family would do. If some kids ask out in a way is offensive to me I want to knock him on his ass.” She described Synanon’s lawsuit war was local authorities and the training of the Synanon Imperial Marines in martial arts and military maneuvers. The approximate 20 members in turn trained another unit called the National Guard. These groups of 15 to 20 under once in intensive 2 week course that included high-speed car chase is, taking people out of cars, and beating them up while yelling a message: “don’t full around with Synanon. (Punch). Don’t come around here again “kick).” She stated there were discussions about going after people and that Synanon would not necessarily back them if there apprehended. She described the beatings of Alvin Gambini, Tom Cardineu, Ron Eidson and beating of the tooth surfer teenagers because one had urinated in the Synanon garage.. She also described Dederich ordering the beating of a man who might have made a threatening remarks about him. She reported the former residence as saying after every beating the Synanon attorneys were notified in brief. That of course would likely include Garrett and Garfield.
She also described in addition to all the lawsuits filed against any county or government agency acted against Synanon, that Synanon intern was filing lawsuits against lawyers who represented clients against Synanon. She claimed a message was if you take the case against Synanon you may be sued. of former members said Synanon was attempting communicate that any lawyer who represents a client against it may be subject to retaliation. While one lawyer caved in and made a deal to drop his lawsuit, another attorney continue to fight despite 3 lawsuits filed against him – – Paul Morantz.
Narada reported within followed was Dederich constantly urging his followers to “take care of Morantz.” she quoted Synanon members who had gathered at the Phoenix Hospital after Dederich arrest. There were comments that they had to remember all the good things he had done. she quoted one Young womanas having said, “he spent 20 years building paradise, but then he couldn’t live it”
And December ended, Synanon continued its red alert drills on the bay property still fearing an invasion. still, there are memos about a kid given 5 good heart licks with the harness strap across is runp and that this punishment was too conservative.
But up north,the first president of Synanon, Jack Hurst, and Mary Inskip met with the Department of Justice. They said I had become “Public Enemy No.1. Everyone talked about him. Mary admitted she herself talked that way. She worked as Howard Garfield assistant and personal secretary. She claimed Dan Garrett love the “cloak and dagger” staff. She also said that the legal Department had incident reports on everything that occurred. See this said there was an investigation report to find my addressand names of my kids.she described Lance Kenton’s involvement in going into Barney Reeds bar every night to ruin his business. She said Dan Garrett denied I was actually bitten. She described the new militant religious posture and the obtain ing of the attack dogs by Musico and Kenton.she thought that the Rattlesnake was more in character and say using a sniper because Synanon could disconnect from it by saying they only meant to scare him. If they killed him, it was bad luck.
Having your 15 min. of fame is a strange time. Judges were introducing me to the audience,lawyers asked for autographs and everyone stared at my sling. For a bachelor it could have been an exciting time. women I had never reached for space with were now calling. At parties when I moved I became surrounded. But there was only one I was interested in.
But since the flying of Chuck’s tape on TV, I could see the distance growing. Around Christmas time alone in her living room I sadly listened to her stereo playing Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond’s “You don’t bring me Flowers, anymore.” The words were too descriptive of our now interactions and within days she said goodbye, her safety of her children her primary consideration.
I atended a New Year’s Eve party at a house close to mine in Palisades. Alone, I wondered into the backyard just before midnight and I began a rare cry. There never had been time for tears. It turned into sobbing. She was gone, I would probably never see her kids again and now my life would be nothing more than working around the clock to prove Synanon did it. I could see another 5 years of this, but it would be actually another 13 before it could actually be said it was over. Finally, I heard a voice in my head. It said, “Paul, quit sniffling. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This is who you are, this is what you do, now go do your job.”
I dried my eyes and went back inside just in time to enjoy the clock striking 12 and the celebration of a new year beginning.