Scientology Leader Spied On His Own Father

Police files detail surveillance of 79-year-old


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Scientology Surveillance

APRIL 9--Here are the police reports detailing how private investigators spent more than 18 months surveilling the father of David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology.

The surveillance of Ronald Miscavige Sr. began after he left the controversial church, which has a long history of harassing and monitoring those who break from its ranks.

The targeting of the elder Miscavige--first reported by the Los Angeles Times--was discovered by police in July 2013 following the arrest of one of the privaye eyes hired to tail the 79-year-old Wisconsin resident. Dwayne Powell, 43, was busted that year when officers discovered a weapons cache in his rented SUV.  

As detailed in West Allis Police Department reports, Powell’s car contained four handguns, two rifles, 2000 rounds of ammunition, a homemade silencer, and a stun gun. Investigators also recovered two laptop computers, a GPS tracking device, and binoculars from the vehicle.

Though initially evasive about what he was doing in the Milwaukee suburb, Powell, a former Florida prison guard, subsequently admitted to police during a recorded interview that he had been hired by the Church of Scientology to conduct "full-time" surveillance on Miscavige (for a weekly fee of $10,000).

Powell, who worked under a confidentiality agreement, said that he was in West Allis because he had determined that Ronald Miscavige was trying to buy a home in the city. Powell said he was directed to either rent or buy a residence near the one Miscavige planned to purchase so that the church “could have a home to use to watch Ron.” Powell, police noted, said that the property would be paid for by the church.

Police arrested Powell around the corner from the home that Miscavige and his wife eventually bought. A search of the private eye's car turned up a “realty flyer” advertising the sale of a home directly across the street from the Miscavige property.

While Powell was the only individual busted, David Miscavige (pictured above) is listed as a “suspect” in police reports.

Powell told police that he and his son followed Ronald Miscavige, picked through the ex-Scientologist’s trash, and even surreptitiously attached a GPS device to his car. "When Ron would go to the library to check his emails, they would stand behind him and take pictures of the screen," a detective noted. "When he would be eating at a restaurant, they would sit nearby or at his table and listen to his conversations. If Ron was in his vehicle on the phone, they would pull up next to him and monitor his conversation."

Powell told police that he was also expected to “recruit people to befriend Ron and his wife who would remain close to them for information purposes.” He added that the church “has also sent be near Ron and his wife.”

The blanket surveillance of Miscavige--which began daily at 8 AM and ran for 12 hours--was ordered because David Miscavige was worried that his father would divulge secrets about Church of Scientology activities, Powell told police. A West Allis detective who interviewed Powell and his son Daniel noted that the pair’s job was “to know who Ron talked to, emailed with, where he went, what he did, etc.."

Powell told cops that he was paid through a Tampa-based PI firm.

While detailing his surveillance of Miscavige, Powell recalled once following the elderly man on a shopping trip when he apparently became stricken while loading his car. Thinking that Miscavige (pictured at right) might be having a heart attack, Powell called an intermediary for guidance.

Within minutes, Powell told police, David Miscavige called him. The Scientology boss told Powell that “if it was Ron's time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way," according to a police report. The elder Miscavige, however, rallied and “nothing further happened.”

Daniel Powell also recalled the incident, telling cops that he "viewed David Miscavige as an animal." Powell commented, "Who could let their father die like that?," according to a police report.

Dwayne Powell was subsequently indicted last year on a federal charge related to his possession of the homemade silencer, which fit a tactical rifle. The felony count was later dismissed as part of a deferred prosecution agreement approved by Department of Justice lawyers.

Powell’s Florida private investigator’s license is no longer active and he has relocated to Waynesboro, Tennessee, where he owns a restaurant.

In a September 2014 follow-up interview, Ronald Miscavige and his wife Becky told a West Allis police lieutenant that they believed they were “still being followed 24/7” and suspected that their garbage was being searched. The couple noted that David Miscavige is “afraid that Ronald will speak with the media about the negative inner workings of the church and David’s abuse of the members of the church.” (13 pages)