Monday, November 22, 2010
The Church of Scientology has provided no small contribution (through its status as a litigant) to nonprofit and federal income tax law textbooks. Scientology is once again in the headlines on account of a lawsuit filed against a dentist, Dr. Rene Piedra. Reportedly basing his business model on Scientology philosophies, Piedra allegedly charged high fees and then donated very large sums generated from his dental practice to Scientology-related entities. According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times, from 2005 to 2008, court records show that the dentist’s practice “transferred $715,364 to several Scientology entities, including the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater.” The story continues:
Piedra's contributions helped land him in bankruptcy, owing $3.9 million to a long list of creditors. A lawsuit in Miami alleges that Scientology groups played a key role in his downfall. Bankruptcy trustee Barry Mukamal contends Piedra schemed "to defraud patients in order to transfer large sums of money" to the Church of Scientology and related groups. Involved, Mukamal alleges, were nine Scientology-related entities, three church members and a Pinellas County management training firm run by Scientologists. He sued them all, seeking to recover the thousands they got from Piedra. Scientology denies any involvement.
The Church of Scientology reportedly is expected to enter into a settlement agreement, pursuant to which it would pay “$350,000 to make the case go away for the Scientology defendants,” on the condition that “the judge bar Piedra's creditors or other parties to the suit from suing the Scientology entities.”