The Tampa Bay Times published an exclusive story by Tracey McManus showing that Clearwater real estate developer Rod Riley is a frontman for hidden Scientology investors.
We reported on this same story in our previous article Trish Duggan and the $114 Million in Clearwater Real Estate Purchases Made by Scientologists: Is There a Connection?
In our opinion this story is yet another case of the Church of Scientology and its members engaging in a strange cover up. In particular, we have reported on Nashville Scientologists Stephen and Megan Epstein over the years and are curious as to why they feel the need to conceal the fact that Stephen Epstein hired Rod Riley.
It would have been so easy for the Church of Scientology and the Epstein’s to make this all public. Indeed, it would have been a PR coup for the Epstein’s to prove the skeptics wrong by publicly announcing that they and their fellow Scientologists were investing $350 million into developing a project in the North Marina.
But no. We must once again chide the Church of Scientology and the Epstein’s for being Fabian. This term “Fabian” was used by L. Ron Hubbard to describe Scientology’s penchant for excessive secrecy, especially when engaged in covert operations.
An example of being Fabian occurred in 1975 when the Church of Scientology surreptitiously paid cash to acquire the Fort Harrison and other buildings in Clearwater under the name of the United Churches of Florida. What the Epstein’s have done by using Rod Riley evokes the United Churches of Florida deception. Such deception seems unnecessary unless the Epstein’s have something to hide or investors to protect.
The bottom line is that a lack of transparency on a proposed $350 million real estate deal in Florida raises red flags. The provenance of the money for example. Who are the investors and why do they wish to remain anonymous?
Rod Riley filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011. According to the filing, Riley had $500,000 in Lance Armstrong memorabilia seized by creditors. He listed $1.7 million in unsecured debt to creditors. The Chapter 7 filing showed Riley as having no income. However, in his current incarnation as a new real estate developer in Clearwater, Riley uses his website to paint a different picture of himself:
Throughout his career, Riley has worked with international powerhouses and entrepreneurial firms. His experience has focused on the Sun Belt states from North Carolina to New Mexico with substantial development in Florida. The major cities in which Riley has developed include Winter Park, Coral Springs, Palm Coast, Orlando, Naples, and Boca Raton, Florida; Scottsdale and Mesa, Arizona; and Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah. Riley has moved from Scottsdale, Arizona to dedicate his time and efforts to this project and is quickly becoming ingrained in the Clearwater community.
Rod Riley does not back up his claims with names of specific projects, and, his 2011 bankruptcy filing shows mediocre business experiences ending in failure. We would like to see specifics which prove Riley has ever been the principal in developing large-scale projects. As we examined his resume on LinkedIn, he has always been an employee subordinate to executive management. We did not see any CEO or Exec VP title associated with Riley in his past employment history.
Rod Riley has zero social media presence and no discernable pool of potential investors. To put it another way, Rod Riley is no Grant Cardone. And yet we are expected to believe his sudden appearance in Clearwater where he is promoting a $350 million dollar project happened of his own initiative.
Sorry Church of Scientology but we are not buying your denials. Ben Shaw can rant and rave all he wants at the Tampa Bay Times that there is no Church of Scientology involvement but we do not believe it. Instead, what we are doing is following the money and the players. Again, the provenance of the money and the people using Rod Riley as a frontman raises hard questions.
Riley’s company RSR Capital Advisors LLC has a quizzical history. As shown on the Florida Secretary of State’s website, Riley originally filed RSR Capital Advisors as an LLC in March 2002. The filing shows a mailing address in Park City, Utah and an address for Riley in Winter Park, Florida. The firm was administratively dissolved by Florida in 2013 for failing to file its required annual report.
Riley then made a new filing for RSR Capital Advisors LLC in March 2022. This new entity has a different EIN number than its predecessor of the same name.
Wiki Visualizer shows Riley’s network of businesses:
How does Rod Riley emerge from personal bankruptcy and a collection of lackluster businesses and go on to be the face of a $350 million development? The evidence indicates he was hired by Scientologists to represent himself as an outsider.
Ben Shaw’s foaming-at-the-mouth letter to the Tampa Bay Times is a clear attempt to deflect from what the TBT discovered and that is covert Scientology involvement in the North Marina Development. The citizens of Clearwater have a right to know the identities of the developers and the investors on any projects in their town. This is especially true given Scientology’s decades long-history of covertly purchasing real estate in Clearwater to the economic detriment of the city.
Ben Shaw’s letter to journalist Tracey McManus and the Tampa Bay Times: