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Meet Maria Pia Gardini

1st Person Accounts of deception, fraud and abuse in Scientology

Photo of Maria Pia Gardini

March 1, 2001

OT VIII, Class 9 Auditor Exposes Scientology

In January of this year, Maria Pia Gardini contacted the Lisa McPherson Trust to ask us to help her recover 1.5 million dollars from Scientology. The story she told of fraud and abuse was so terrible that we asked her to come to Clearwater to tell her story on video. During her visit she wrote three separate declarations and I interviewed her on video for many hours. After a little more than a week with Maria, we all considered her a very good friend. Maria is a delightful woman who speaks very good English with a charming Italian accent. She is appalled when she looks back at what happened to her in Scientology. Maria comes from a wealthy Italian family. She was coerced into giving nearly her entire inheritance to Scientology and now is in serious financial difficulties.

Maria's daughter got into Scientology via the Narconon program in Italy. Maria was very close to her daughter and extremely concerned about her daughter's drug use. Her daughter told her Scientology had helped her. At the same time, Maria was very sad about the death of her father, and her daughter begged her to get some auditing to help relieve her grief, so Maria did it. As luck would have it, Maria had a very sympathetic auditor to talk to about her father's death. This auditor helped Maria tremendously during a difficult time in her life. That was the beginning for Maria Pia.

In her declarations you will read the details of what happened to Maria in Scientology. Because that very first auditing made her feel better, she continued to hope that as she moved up the "Bridge to Total Freedom" she would feel better again, but it never happened. At each new auditing step Maria was disappointed, but always a Scientology registrar, or reg (pronounced "redge" -- these are the people responsible for extracting as much money as possible from Scientologists) were able to get her to keep paying for more services, promising that the next level was the one she was looking for.

Perhaps one of the most ironic aspects of Maria's story is that she lost all of her money not as a public Scientologist but as a Sea Org member. Very soon after she got into Scientology, Maria joined the Sea Organization and ultimately became a Class 9 auditor, which is a very high level of training. In fact, she was one of Flag's most productive auditors, delivering thousands of hours to Flag's paying public Scientologists and making millions of dollars for Scientology. Sea Org members are, according to Scientology's own policies, supposed to receive not only their room and board but also their auditing and training for free in return for their work. Yet because Maria had money, she was required to pay for everything she ever received in Scientology. She was literally told that she was unethical to want to hold onto any of her money and that she should simply turn over her entire fortune to Scientology.

In Maria's declaration #1 you will learn about the incredible bait and switch fraud that is perpetrated by Scientology on the so-called "confidential OT levels." At every level beginning with OT3 Maria was promised that she would be rid of all her body thetans once she was done with that step. But at every step she discovered that it had been a lie. After OT3 she was told she had drugged BTs to take care of on OT4. Then she was told she had sleeping BTs to handle on OT5. Then on OT6 she learned that there were BTs everywhere, that her whole body was a mass of clusters of BTs. Then she did OT7 and thought she was now rid of all BTs….until she got to the Freewinds to do her OT8 and discovered that she was expected to audit out still more BTs.

You will read about Maria's incredible journey up the so-called Bridge to Total Freedom, and you will also learn that the night she attested to OT8 she went into a gambling casino in Nassau, where the Freewinds was in port, and found David Miscavige, Guillaume Lesevre and Ray Mithoff all gambling, despite the fact that Scientologists are forbidden to do this.

In declaration #2 Maria details a monumental "reg cycle" in which she was coerced into turning over a million dollars for a project to bring Italian auditors to Flag to train to Class 8, only to find that not one Italian Class 8 was ever made with the money she had donated. Yet the Commanding Officer of the Flag Service Organization, Debbie Cook, bought a new $40,000 car with the commission she made from Maria's coerced donation, and many others also got commissions from Maria's money. When Maria demanded her money back she was again coerced, this time into agreeing to get only half her money back. Maria was in serious financial trouble and Scientology knew it. They waved a check in front of her and told her if she would agree to be repaid only half the money they would give her the check right away, otherwise, she would get nothing.

Maria signed an agreement under these coercive circumstances, but she was never given a copy of the document, and her Italian attorney later told her the agreement, written in English but signed in Italy, was not legally binding. Shortly after Maria visited the Lisa McPherson Trust, I received a letter from Kendrick Moxon threatening to sue the LMT for inducing Maria Gardini to breach her contract. John Merrett then wrote to Moxon demanding a copy of the contract that was allegedly being breached, and informing Moxon that unless a copy of the agreement was forthcoming within one week we would consider that no such agreement existed. That was at the beginning of February. No such agreement has ever been produced by Moxon. Moxon's threatening letter and LMT attorney, John Merrett's response are also available on our site.

Maria's declaration #3 is very short. It details one example of the kind of coercive treatment Maria was subjected to by Flag personnel to get her to turn over her money.

Tragically, Maria's daughter died of AIDS, contracted when she used a dirty needle given to her by another drug user while being treated at Narconon. Her daughter was OT7 when she died.

We are sure you will find the elements of coercion, abuse and fraud in Maria's story all too familiar.

Page updates:

3/07/2001: An extensive video taped interview with Maria Pia Gardini was put up on the LMT Media site.

3/05/2001: Read Maria's documents in Italian at: or

3/04/2001: Some of the terms Maria uses in her declarations are unique to Scientology. A GLOSSARY for the declarations, as well as supporting documents, can be seen here.

4/07/01: Maria did an interview with Italy's Oggi Magazine. Read the article in English or in Italian in PDF format.

5/10/01: Read the March 6, 2001 article about Maria in Italy's Il Terreno Magazine. in Italian in pdf format.

Still to come: Maria's declarations in PDF format.