Mark Chauppetta, Private Eye Who Worked for Scientology at the time of the South Park Investigation: "I'm a Fucking Mercenary"

MarkChauppettaRomney.jpg
Mark Chauppetta, comparing notes with a certain presidential candidate
Just got off the phone with Mark Chauppetta, a private investigator who has done work for the Church of Scientology, sifting through the trash of the church's perceived enemies.

Chauppetta worked for Scientology for several years, including the time the church was investigating South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in 2006. (Chauppetta says he wasn't personally involved in the South Park operation, but added that he wouldn't confirm it even if that was the case.)

I told Chauppetta that our readers have been fascinated with leaked internal documents which suggest that Scientology paid private investigators to case the South Park offices, sift through Parker and Stone's trash, and also to pull the trash of their friends, such as actors John Stamos and Rebecca Romijn.

After the jump, Chauppetta explains what it was investigators were looking for in the trash of Scientology's enemies.

"I do a lot of trash-pulling for a lot of different clients," he says. "You're looking for a Post-it, an envelope, anything that would give you a name, anything. You look for anything but a bloody tampon and a banana peel," Chauppetta told me by phone from the Boston area, where he operates.

I asked him for an example of a specific item he found in a person's trash that had an impact on a case he was involved in.

"There are people who have left bank statements and things like that in the trash that has led to certain decisions in probate and family court. When it comes to them writing things on their financial disclosures that are inaccurate," he explained.

"I pull trash for everyone. I recommend it to a lot of different clients," Chauppetta says.

In the days since the Patriot Act, some kinds of document searches are tougher for private eyes, Chauppetta tells me. He says searching through a target's trash has become a more useful and reliable tool.

About ten years ago, he tells me, Scientology seemed to be blindsided by the Internet and what was being said about the church online. For several years -- including 2006, when the South Park operation was going on -- Chauppetta says he was a highly thought of operative for the church.

"They handed me a copy of Dianetics when I first started doing work for them, and I just threw it in the trash. It didn't catch my attention," he says. "As long as they paid me in a timely fashion, I wasn't going to judge. I'm a fucking mercenary.

"I give the Church of Scientology props. It's funny, I had a potential client call me who wanted some background done on certain people. You could call these people a borderline religious organization, a borderline cult. I told them they could take an example from Scientology, because they seem to do it right when it comes to gathering data."

I asked him if he could characterize the kind of work the church asked him to do. "Most of the cases I worked on were doing background information on ex-members who were saying things about them that weren't pleasant," he answered.

"As far as the church goes, I just turned over what I found to them, and I didn't know what they did with it. I was just a grunt for them," he added. "I was just a soldier. As long as it was legal and ethical I didn't have a problem."

We're learning that 2006 seemed to be a particularly busy year for Scientology investigations, with seemingly dozens of different perceived enemies around the country being looked at. Today, however, with Scientology's numbers dwindling, only a few key targets seem to be getting the full-force private investigator routine (Marty Rathbun in Texas, Mike Rinder and Robert Almblad in Florida, Jason Beghe in California, and Marc Headley in Colorado are the chief ones that come immediately to mind.)

When I mentioned that Scientology's fortunes seem to have declined, and with it the church's resources for investigating, Chauppetta said that jibed with his own experience.

"I haven't done anything for them in a few years. I don't know if it's the recession or because they don't have something in the Boston area. I know it's not because of my work. I was highly recognized for what I do," he says.

In May, we wrote that Chauppetta had given an interview to Howard Stern, who asked him (in less detail) about working for Scientology. Chauppetta said he didn't get quite the boost in business from that interview that he was hoping for.

He did wonder, however, if Scientology might have been irked. "After the Stern interview, I thought, they're probably pulling my trash now," he says.

In that case, when one suspects that the church is snooping into one's affairs, what should one do?

"Shred everything," he answered.

"They can pull my trash if they want to. They might find some dirty tissues when I'm rubbing one out in the office, but that's about it."



The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week] [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]

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52 comments
ThetaManisKing!
ThetaManisKing!

Okay Miles,

Yes I admit to typing fast,  when I am enturbulated i do all sorts of things. When in such a state it is not un-common to for-go  frivolous whipty-whas.. to happen!! is it so hard for you, "the hatefull and abtruse" to understand the hardship of the spiritually POWERFUL!! hmmm? we have gone over this you childish ANONS..what is so hard to understand? WE are the spiritual future of this planet!! not just the UK, or the USA but the ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET! This is OUR future!! why would you not want to be a part of that ??It is so SO sad that the writer and the readers of this ** insanity **actually believe what is being written!! The future...BILLIONS of years folks!! get on board people, We are talking about ETERNITY!! not the next ..   derp 20 years..derp.. We are talking about FOREVER!!Please, PLEASE join us and be happy knowing you are part of the REAL future of this planet AND others!!!!I find it remarkable and frightening that there are so many NON BELIEVERS, I must apeal to those in the regging/marketing sector to get PEOPLE ROUTED IN !! NOW..I know everyone reads this GARBAGE so route your people into the nearest org, push, push, push, lets clear this planet folks!! the more bodies we get routed in the more dollars towards our IDEAL ORGS!! YES BABY !!

Join us and be happy, join us and be happy, join us and be happy!!

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

An acquaintance of mine recently did the arithmetic on how long it will take to "clear the planet." Using current population and fair numbers for orgs, auditors and staff, in round numbers, it came out to 74,000 years.

Frankly, ThetaMan, I don't think any scientologist could shatter shit with a shotgun. It's just a big 'let's pretend' situation.

Scientologists pretend to be members of a Super Race that are taking over the world. This is called "paranoid delusion" which typically oscillates between delusions of grandeur - "... we're clearing the planet ..." and delusions of persecution ".... they're all out to get us ..."

"Abtruse" ??? Did you mean to type "Abstruse" ??? Also kinda screwed up in the literacy department, aren't you?

So, you're delusional, semi-literate and intellectually dishonest. If this is an example of a "good" scientologist, I think that you and the rest of your moonbat buddies are doomed to extinction. Soon.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Dear scientologists, this is what your donations buy.

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

Tenants, Tampons, Tech, Tents—if the MantisKing isn't parody then what is? If the ManicKing is serious, then this even better parody!

And at least it is moderately alliterative.

"Clam Society Into The Future!"

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

You don't know the history of pulling trash and I do. Here's the thing about pulling trash: You're either in or you're out. You're either waist deep in soiled tampons, disposable diapers, and the godawful smell of putrefying tuna casserole on a hot night or you're not. If you're not, then learn how to pull trash. I...I...I'm pulling more than my fair share of enemy trash every night. I've cancelled reasonableness in my area when it comes to pulling trash. I won't hesitate to put ethics in one someone when it comes to pulling trash because I ruthlessly put in ethics on myself.

If you went through Scientology's trash you would find the most ethical trash on the planet. You would find me and David Miscavige in that ethical trash handling the... psychiatrists. It's totally... whoosh! Go to guns! Being a Scientologist, when you drive past someone's trash, it's not like anyone else, it's, you drive past, you know you have to do something about it. You know you are the only one who can really help. That's what drives me: To find your deepest, darkest secrets in your trash.

I read the policy and, uh, if someone had gone through Michael Jackson's trash... if someone had cared enough to pull his trash the way Scientology pulls trash then Michael would still be alive today. All of the empty Propofol bottles that the Psych Conrad Murray threw away would have been discovered. We, Scientology, couldn't pull Michael's trash because some fuck up in OSA never lifted the DNE (Do Not Enturbulate) order on Michael that was issued when he was married to Lisa Marie. We are that ethical. We don't violate policy like all of you goddamn wogs and psychs here at this steaming pantload that Ortega calls a blog.

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

"The Most Ethical Trash on the Planet!"

Marcotai, ya old idiot!

How ya doin'?

You don't want the darkest secrets in our trash—we got us four cats and one has major bowel enturbulation [enturdulation?].

[Seriously folks—this writer mixes high and low. Pasta boy doesn't even know what end is up, but this cut-up comes up with—"Here's the thing about pulling trash: You're either in or you're out. You're either waist deep in soiled tampons, disposable diapers, and the godawful smell of putrefying tuna casserole on a hot night or you're not"—that's waaaaay beyond Marcotai's ken, way above his pay grade. There's ellipses and asides and the deliberate insertion of "UH's". This is parody. Dare I say it? This is Pynchonesque]

"If you went through Scientology's trash you would find the most ethical trash on the planet. You would find me and David Miscavige in that ethical trash handling the... psychiatrists. It's totally... whoosh! Go to guns! Being a Scientologist, when you drive past someone's trash, it's not like anyone else, it's, you drive past, you know you have to do something about it. You know you are the only one who can really help. That's what drives me: To find your deepest, darkest secrets in your trash. "

Priceless!

lcmsmommy
lcmsmommy

i can haz tom cruize trash in my kitty litter box?

Endscientologynow
Endscientologynow

FYI, ThetaMan has a huge lack of space in between the parentheses (i.e. his ears).

Deanblair06
Deanblair06

Great story!  Thanks for all you do.

ThetaManisKing!
ThetaManisKing!

Old Timer, I thought I might find you here, you awful bigot!!You mock us and lampoon us, but try as you might you will never drive us into oblivion!!! Yes, I misspelled a word Old timer, but that does not mean I have an MU..I understand completely the word and idea of Tenets ;Noun, a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy... You wish to think of Scietologists as ignorant and un-willing to view society as accepting. We view society as our future, it is our's to claim. We will bring all of the nations of the world together with the technology of the Great L.Ron Hubbard ..laugh as you might "old timer" (and your time is limited, unless you feel like joining us) but we can not be stopped by a group of children wearing halloween masks!! we have been hear longer than most of you have been alive..I am so glad I found this little clan of En-theta proponents, I know now where to find the suppressive people!! you all will either join us one day because you will understand our TENETS or we will wipe you out with out PTS-SP Tech..You dummys have heard of THAT!! it works and it will work on you!! I promise.Leave us alone and we will leave you alone!!Join us and be happy, join us and be happy!!FlagLike

Clarkle
Clarkle

I thought "scietologist" were supposed to be smarter than the rest of us.

Meishayuri
Meishayuri

What an ethical and classy guy this PI is.  So very modest and humble.  I am sure Scientology  could have taught this fine man how to pry more money from his victims...I mean...customers.

Jgg
Jgg

  If you ever read Dianetics, you would realize that it justifies the existence of shredders.  Same with LRH's other writings.

Jgg
Jgg

  How does this behavior rank on the tone scale?

Xenu
Xenu

With regard to Stone and Parker, I'll go with "total failure" at -40.

guest
guest

Chauppetta should mix plenty of dog shit, used kitty litter, and misc liquids,  into his trash.  

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen

Boy, this guy gives sleazy, scumbag lawyers a bad name.

"As long as it was legal and ethical I didn't have a problem." Apparently he has a rather warped definition of ethical.

Does this attorney realize that there is a difference between court cases where people may be trying to hide evidence and where someone is trying to prove a case vs someone simply exercising the right of freedom of speech?

What a douche bag.

Jim
Jim

He is not a lawyer.

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen

Oops! Thanks. Allow me to correct my post :)

Boy, this guy gives sleazy, scumbag PIs a bad name.

"As long as it was legal and ethical I didn't have a problem." Apparently he has a rather warped definition of ethical.

Does this PI realize that there is a difference between court cases where people may be trying to hide evidence and where someone is trying to prove a case vs someone simply exercising the right of freedom of speech?

What a douche bag.

GarryS
GarryS

I accompanied a friend who worked for a tabloid on a trash digging mission years ago and we found wrappers for adult diapers in Larry King's trash.. the discovery made it in the tabloids. I also have a prized photo I took of George Michael exiting a men's public bathroom in Beverly Hills before he was arrested for soliciting an undercover cop in a different men's bathroom. Humans are creatures of habit & have a tendency to throw things in the trash which shouldn't be there. Alot of people did through celebrity's trash & find things they can sell on ebay & make alot of money off of.

ExScn
ExScn

Doesn't make it right.

guest
guest

and therefore and therewith,  new religions are dreamed up to explain and/or absolve  all that trash away. 

mjm
mjm

I wonder if anybody has sifted through T. Cruise's trash or the Travoltas, Kirstie's, Leah Remini's, Priscilla Presley's, etc.

Endscientologynow
Endscientologynow

If the story about TC is correct, he has most of his waste products (i.e. left over food, left over toiletries, etc) are burned or likewise discarded because of this very reason.  People can make money from selling Suri Cruise's left over Raviolis on eBay, and the PR value is downstat.  So most celebrities (controversial ones, in particular) have their trash burned.

Any donations of discarded items are strategically placed for tax and PR value.  This is not anything special for Scientologists, it is just smart PR.

This story from a PI is not surprising.  Anyone that works in intelligence would tell you the same thing.  Everything you discard should be viewed from the perspective that someone else will use it for their own purposes.  

(and, no....I am not OSA....this is a nice weekender fluff piece, Tony)

Dan Courtney
Dan Courtney

And how would he know if it was ethical if he didn't know why it was being done, or what would be done with the results? Helping Scientology in any way is always unethical.

Dean Fox
Dean Fox

Treanslation: Ethical means he's getting paid for it.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

"They might find some dirty tissues when I'm rubbing one out in the office, but that's about it."

Um...EW!

Reasonable_Insanity
Reasonable_Insanity

If anything, you have to love his blunt honesty.

"They handed me a copy of Dianetics when I first started doing work for them, and I just threw it in the trash. It didn't catch my attention," he says. "As long as they paid me in a timely fashion, I wasn't going to judge. I'm a fucking mercenary.

Ha ha! Priceless!

Schockenawd
Schockenawd

If Chauppetta did work for Scientology in Boston in the late 90s, I imagine he pulled Robert Minton's trash, assisting Mike Rinder's largely-successful efforts to destroy Minton.   

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

Three sequential posts here from Tony's underground bunker and no responses from Marcotai?

Did he finally "Get It"?

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

He's been RPF'd for making Scientology look so freaking bad on the internet. ;-)

CofS Exit Zone
CofS Exit Zone

Or, he's getting reprogrammed on a new script to repeat over and over. Here's hoping its even more amusing than the last one.

Myriam Breitman
Myriam Breitman

Private eye for Scientology at the time of the South Park Investigation: "I'd look for anything but bloody tampon and a banana peel."Could have been a great article title.

sizzle8
sizzle8

Thank goodness Tony's checks from Big Pharma are written on banana peels.

Xenu
Xenu

They have to be.  Ever try to cash a tampon?

CofS Exit Zone
CofS Exit Zone

ZOMG!!! Now that's my kind of SCOOP! My world, haz been rocked for the week. Dirty tissues in the trash can and all. (fans self) Whew!!

Myriam Breitman
Myriam Breitman

He sounds like a really classy guy.

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

Makes me wonder if Romney hired him—waaaaaay classy!

TheGuest
TheGuest

Holy .... has Romney's rivals gotten ahold of this picture?  Hey, Mitt, just one question:  Did Scientology refer you?  ok, 2 questions:  whose trash?

Jgg
Jgg

  Has anyone gone through Scientology's trash?

Xenu
Xenu

I'm thinkin' it's all tissues.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Miscavige probably had a custom blast furnace made for his office tissues... Anyway, I'm afraid that Private Geppetto's work for Sciloontology is over for good, especially with his now public low-toned regard for Dianutty. Perhaps he could get work as a file clerk. He seems to have a knack for classification.

Is there anyone that liked that freaking book? I mean has David Miscavige or Tommy Davis even read it?

Guest
Guest

Since Scientology is big on "special collections" they know how to protect themselves as well.  They don't even shred stuff, they PULP it.  (We're talking at the HQ, not the local orgs and missions).

Former SO in CW
Former SO in CW

When I was at Flag in HCO we had a huge, industrial-grade shredder called "Jaws" that could shred the Yellow Pages in two seconds as if it was toilet paper. Then everything was pulped so there was NO chance of anyone ever reconstructing documents.

PAMELA ANDERSON
PAMELA ANDERSON

Any idea about the number of SO members  a Flag and world wide. When there orgs are getting deserted  and kids are colored minorities are taking their place at contractual staff members.......what future holds for SO

Guest
Guest

Yeah, I only recalled later that I heard they shredded first then pulped...so I stand corrected!

TheGuest
TheGuest

So, Pulp Fiction, it's a true story of sorts?

TheGuest
TheGuest

my god, that's exactly what I was thinking. 

Mercenaries, trash soldiers, shredders, oh my.

Tony, I think you've put the crowning cherry on top of the trash heap this time.One word:  chilling

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