Methuen Man Is Convicted In Scientology Extortion Case

Source: Boston Globe
Date: December 30, 1986

A US District Court jury yesterday convicted George T. Kattar of Methuen of extorting $33,000 from the Church of Scientology and attempting to extort $67,000 more.

Kattar, who boasted on tape that he was sponsored by the late New England Mafia leader Raymond L.S. Patriarca, threatened the life of one church official, according to testimony.

The 57-year-old Kattar, now free on $1 million bond, faces 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 5. The jury acquitted him of lesser charges, including fraud and receiving stolen funds.

The jurors also acquitted a codefendant, Harvey Brower, 49, of Swampscott, on all four charges against him, including extortion, fraud and receiving stolen funds.

The case involved efforts to collect a $100,000 reward offered by the church for information about an attempt to pass a $1.5 million forged church check.

According to testimony, Kattar and Brower obtained $33,000 from the church in return for information that turned out to be false. A former church official, Geoffrey Shervell, testified that Kattar threatened him in an attempt to collect the remaining $67,000.

According to tapes played during the trial, Kattar shouted at Shervell: "You're finished. ... Your days are numbered."

Referring to one of his bodyguards, Kattar told Shervell: "He would blow your head off in 10 seconds. ... You're lucky I'm going to let you walk out of here, my friend."

Kattar warned Shervell and an undercover FBI agent that he was "in the rackets" and any attempt to oppose him would be disastrous for the church.

In an unrelated raid on Kattar's home last April, FBI agents seized 131 guns and military supplies. The armaments included three homemade bombs, a number of Uzis - an Israeli submachine gun - automatic weapons, shotguns, rifles and handguns.

Kattar has been a real estate developer, a financier and a trucking company executive over the past 20 years.

FBI agents who bugged Patriarca's office in Providence between 1962 and 1965 reported that they heard the Mafia chief and his close associates mention Kattar's name in a number of conversations involving business deals.

An affidavit filed by FBI agent James Burleigh said an informant has told the FBI that the New England Mafia has given Kattar approval to kill Larry J. Reservitz, a convicted swindler, who was the chief prosecution witness in the trial. Reservitz is now in the federal witness protection program.

According to court documents, during a meeting that Reservitz taped in 1984, Kattar talked about the structure of the Mafia in New England in the wake of the indictments of Gennaro J. Angiulo, then reputed Boston area Mafia chief, and three of his brothers and explained that Patriarca's son, Raymond J. (Junior) Patriarca, was "running things now."

Kattar said on the tape he was sponsored by the elder Patriarca. "I was never in Jerry's camp," Kattar said, referring to Angiulo.

Kattar, who served nine months in prison for a 1973 tax evasion conviction, also figured in the recent gubernatorial campaign. Republican candidate Gregory Hyatt withdrew from the race shortly after it was disclosed that he had received a personal donation from Kattar.

Brower, a disbarred lawyer, once represented the elder Patriarca and several other high-level organized crime figures.

The Scientology trial revolved around a $100,000 reward the church had offered for information about an attempt to pass a $1.5 million forged check drawn on an account of church founder L. Ron Hubbard at the Bank of New England.

Lawyers for Kattar and Brower conceded that their clients provided the church with false information implicating Boston lawyer Michael J. Flynn in the forgery attempt, but they claimed no fraud was committed against the church.

The defense lawyers argued that the church did not care whether the information was true or false as long as it incriminated Flynn, whom the church considered its nemesis.

According to testimony, church officials were seeking derogatory information against Flynn to discredit him and stop him from filing suits against the church. Over the past several years Flynn has filed numerous suits against the church on behalf of dissaffected church members.

Earlier this month the suits - including one for defamation that Flynn filed in his own behalf - were settled, reportedly for close to $5 million.

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