By Jeffrey Augustine
The links below are the summary of the court reporting I did during the preliminary criminal trial of Rizza Islam and his co-defendants in the Los Angeles Downtown Criminal Courts (Case # BA435374). The felony charges against Ronnie Steven “Rizza” Islam and his co-defendants center around a $3.8 million dollar Medi-Cal insurance fraud committed during the operation of the now defunct Scientology-licensed World Literacy Crusade and the American Health and Education Clinic located in Compton, California.
Thanks to Tony Ortega for covering my reporting in real time — along with his added news and commentary — at The Underground Bunker. The Bunker commenting community added many outstanding and insightful comments. Special thanks to Lisa Bartley of ABC 7 Los Angeles Eyewitness News for providing video coverage along with the sketches by ABC sketch artist Mona S. Edwards.
This story has now become a part of the decades-long story of Scientology and criminality.
The sovereign citizen defense offered by Rizza and his mother Hanan Islam at the preliminary trial failed badly and served them both a hard lesson that legal fictions do not work in the real world. Both Rizza and his mother were sentenced to five days in jail and fined $1000 for contempt of court due to their flagrant disrespect towards the court in asserting their nonsensical sovereign citizen arguments. The defendants will be arraigned on October 22 and I will be there to report on it.
UPDATE: Rizza Islam spoke in a video from jail. In this video Rizza stated that he was being held in jail for contempt of court. This is not entirely accurate. While Rizza and his mother were each sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court on October 2, 2019, they completed their sentences for contempt on October 6. Thereafter, Rizza and his mother were held in jail on bail based upon the charges for which they were bound over for trial. Rizza spun his jail time as being for contempt only; he did not forthrightly speak to the underlying criminal charges for which he was being held. Rizza has never directly addressed these charges in social media.
Here is what actually happened: On the final day of the preliminary criminal trial, Judge Pastor ruled that the State had met its burden of proof and he ruled that all defendants were to be bound over for trial on all charges.
The Judge next raised the question of bail. All defendants had been free on their own recognizance since they were charged in October 2015. The Judge allowed Nimat Islam and Zakiyyah Islam to remain free on their own recognizance as they have always appeared as ordered and have no prior convictions.
Judge Pastor cited the “dramatically changed circumstances” based upon the evidence presented at the preliminary criminal trial as it concerned Hanan Islam and Rizza Islam.
Judge Pastor turned his attention to Hanan Islam and said the evidence showed she had engaged in “an extremely aggravated fraud scheme” that involved educators and “innocent high school students.” Judge Pastor further stated that Hanan had played games with the court and engaged in nonsense. Here, he was clearly referring to Hanan’s time-wasting and contemptuous sovereign citizen defense that had gotten her five days in jail and a $1,000 fine. He further characterized her actions as a “sophisticated fraud” in which she was “ripping off the taxpayers.” Accordingly, he set her bail at $250,000 and revoked her release on her own recognizance. There is an additional $5,000 bail hold on Hanan and so her total bail is $255,000.
Judge Pastor set Rizza Islam’s bail at $100,000 and revoked his release on his own recognizance. Once Rizza was booked into Los Angeles County Jail an old warrant from when he was a minor was discovered. The bail on that warrant is $31,000 and this brings Rizza’s bail to $131,000. Rizza can present his case at arraignment and ask for bail reduction or to be released on his own recognizance. So can his mother Hanan.
Below are the screenshots from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Inmate Locator site; readers can verify this information for themselves:
Rizza Islam’s bail for $131,000:
Hanan Islam’s bail for $255,000:
The defendants will be arraigned on October 22, 2019:
Categories: The Scientology Money Project