A California couple is suing the Church of Scientology, claiming that the church misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars they donated for the construction of a new building.
The couple, Luis Garcia Saz and Maria Del Rocio Burgos Garcia, claim they donated $420,000 to the church to fund construction of a building in Florida and for other humanitarian purposes, reports The Tampa Tribune.
But more than a decade after the project started, the building is nowhere near complete. In their lawsuit, the couple claims that the church invented the construction project as a scheme to swindle money from church members.
So where did the money go?
The couple's Church of Scientology lawsuit alleges the construction funds were spent to support the lavish lifestyles of church leaders, especially the opulent lifestyle of Scientology leader David Miscavige, reports the Tribune.
The couple basically claims that the church has become a money-making machine whose sole purpose is to bleed its constituents of their money. The couple describes members maxing out credit cards and taking out mortgages to stay in good graces with the church and its relentless requests for donations.
Garcia Saz says that he was a member of the church for 28 years. But after asking for his money back, he and his wife were ex-communicated.
The couple is suing the church for fraud. To win their lawsuit, the couple will likely have to prove that the church did solicit funds for the sole purpose of the construction project, and that it was stipulated the money would not be used for other purposes.
In most cases, when you donate money to an organization, that organization can use the money however it feels fit. This includes funding the lifestyle of organization members. However, if it is specifically stated that the money will only be used for a specific purpose, then the organization may be liable for fraud if it really had no intent to follow through.
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