Posted on 12 July 2023, by Casey J.

The 10 Deepest (And Some Of The Darkest) Pockets In Clearwater, FL

The Church of Scientology is one of the largets modern cults, and it began a new era for itself in 1975, purchasing a hotel in Clearwater, FL. While an entire, msasive building sounds like the kind of investment that would drain most people’s bank accounts, the coffers of Scientologists never seem to run dry. Hundreds of millions of dollars have changed hands on property deals alone, and there’s no indication of a stopping point anytime soon, as the Tampa Bay Times reports. Out of everyone in Clearwater, these ten are the biggest contributors to the land grab (that we know of...), from smallest to largest:

10. Rick Argall

The current logo of Argall's clinic

Argall was a successful Clearwater chiropractor and landlord to five other Scientology businesses in his building, worth $780,000. Key-word: “was”. Just one critique of the church landed him with excommunication and a complete loss of his business and property. It was good while it lasted, I guess. (Nowadays, his old chiropractor partner still runs the place as if Rick were never there.)

9. Mark Searcy

Mark Searcy, from his own website

Searcy is the only non-Scientologist on this list, which ought to earn him some recognition, as it's also the only thing holding him back from being a more major player in the area. He was able to buy up an entire acre of prime property, intending to spend another $5 million on building a fantastic residential-retail space. But developers were afraid of Clearwater’s religious reputation, which meant no profit, until one Ms. Fischler finally bit. You’ll want to remember that name. As for Searcy, he's still chugging along doing business like always in Clearwater.

8. Tal Ezra

Ezra's fuel tanks, from his own website

Ezra has been making plenty of money from his fuel management company for almost 20 years in the city, but it wasn’t enough for him. Recently, he shelled out the dough for four more parcels of land surrounding his office. He claims this is pure business, unrelated to his Scientologist affiliation.

7. Brian Andrus

Brian Andrus, from Douglas R. Clifford of The Times

Andrus is the second-most hardcore Scientologist on this list (after our #1 spot on this list, of course), having escaped a federal prison sentence back in the 1970s as a government espionage co-conspirator. Thanks to that, he’s stayed in business and racked up the funds to purchase a downtown marina, plus six other shoreline properties. It seems that lawyer fees were no setback to his bank account.

6. David Kerr

David Kerr, from his own website

The state of Kerr’s own pockets is unknown, but this real estate agent certainly represents someone who is willing to dig deep. $1.1 million went to John Yarbrough, replacing his electrical company with a new, Scientologist-run one. Plus, he handed over the money in cash, meaning his backer was well-off enough that liquidating over a million dollars in one go was no big deal.

5. Daphna Fischler

Daphna Fischler, from her own website

Remember Fischler? Kerr is a nurse shark to her great white. Over the years, this real estate agent represented seven different clients, buying out at least ten properties in Clearwater. All were located downtown and paid for in cash. Just one property went for $410,000, so buying ten around a similar price estimates over $4 million changing hands through all her deals.

4. Shahab and Catherine Emrani

The couple's induction to "Gold Meritorious" status, from Tony Ortega

This Scientologist couple are not only land-owners, but major donors as well. At least $1.75 million has gone directly to the church. Besides this, they’ve already spent big bucks on four buildings, a condo storefront, plus some more vacant land. Also, Shahab is a member of the Clearwater Downtown Development Board, so he’s got a line in to help his purchases run that much more smoothly.

3. Itzhak Zano

A whole lot of paper

By the numbers alone, Zano has acquired the greatest amount of properties downtown: 26. To throw a few more numbers out on the table, $15.9 million of his total $16.7 million spent were transacted in cash. Now that’s some crazy liquidity. Personally, he's a bit of a mystery.

2. Moises Agami

Moises Agami, from Freedom Magazine

Agami is another huge donor, sending $10 million to the church, and that’s still not counting his real estate expenses. In a single year, he purchased 20 storefronts and a parking lot, which couldn’t have been cheap. Interestingly, he’s one of the few Scientologists actually developing his new properties, even renting to non-members of the church.

1. David Miscavige

David Miscavige, from Wikipedia

Miscavige. Where to begin? He’s more of a cult leader than a businessman, but this position places him in control of all those millions of dollars in profits and donations we’ve seen coming from the Emranis, Agamis, and thousands of other fanatic families just like them. In fact, it might be accurate to say that every Scientologist named thus far is simply a representative of Miscavige’s own funds. Tom De Vocht, a defected Scientologist who used to be Miscavige’s right hand man in the real estate department, seems to think so. If we accept De Vocht’s claim that “the church owns its parishioners,” then Miscavige himself is responsible for a total of $103 million spent on property between 2016 and 2019 alone.

* * * * *