When the Church of Scientology came silently and secretly into Clearwater near the end of 1975, June came with it.
She took a job at the Clearwater Sun and when, on Jan. 28, 1976 a Scientology spokesman announced that the church was the new owner of the Fort Harrison Hotel, she was already bustin' out all over.
But a church document -- one of several recently released by a federal court in Washington that detail her activities -- show that the Guardians were worried about her future.
Jimmy Mulligan, the commodore staff guardian assistant for information, wrote Dick Weigand, deputy guardian for information U.S., that a private investigator "gave info to the DEA last November implicating June Byrne (one of our AMA plants) in drug dealing; and causing her to be wanted for questioning by the DEA."
DEA: Drug Enforcement Administration. AMA: American Medical Association.
"Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have J.B. working here, using her own Social Security number ... but a false name. Further, although she is a permanent resident, she is not an American citizen ... It should be no great task for the DEA to locate her should they avail themselves of social security records ...
"So, Dick, I would like for you to put your thinking cap on and work out the best way to handle the current scene concerning her. Her placement (CW Sun) is very valuable and I would not like to have the data source completely lost to us at this time."
She was using the name June Phillips. According to the Sun she was given a job in the advertising department but later became a clerk in the newsroom.
On Feb. 7, she passed along information that Sun reporter Mark Sableman spent six hours the previous night writing his story on a $1-million suit being filed against Mayor Gabriel Cazares by the Church of Scientology. The suit, she said, caused a great deal of tension in the newsroom.
She was not the only weapon the church employed in its effort to stop the newspaper from writing articles about Scientology. The church also threatened the Sun with a libel suit.
On Feb. 9, Duke Snider, deputy deputy guardian U.S., reported to Henning Heldt, his immediate superior, that Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of church founder L. Ron Hubbard, had approved a plan to have a church attorney tell Sun officials the newspaper "could get off the hook" by printing an apology.
A church attorney met with Editor Al Hutchinson and the Sun's attorney, Snider said.
"The conversation took place for over an hour and rapport was established by our attorney," he said. "They spent a lot of time trying to convince him that they hadn't printed any libel. He listened to this and told them that he had advised us the articles were libelous.
"In the end they said that all they would print would be an article of clarification ... To apply further pressure, our attorney said that he would review several articles which he had not read and that they had pointed out corrected things they said earlier that we requested be corrected and that he would then call them back. He is also preparing a new letter to them outlining each and every item which we wish corrected from every article."
June was doing well by Feb. 19, reporting that Sableman had contacted a reporter for a newspaper in the Bahamas about movements of the Apollo, flagship of Scientology before Flag moved into a land base at the Fort Harrison. She said Sableman had a copy of Paulette Cooper's book, The Scandal of Scientology. She filed almost daily reports.
Her prospects looked even better. In a church document dated Feb. 21, it was reported that "she is being grooved in to be a reporter."
But late in February, Don Alverso, director of Branch I information for Flag, reported that June had a problem. A Sun reporter "has been putting some pressure on our girl in the area of 2-D," he said.
In the jargon of Scientology, 2-D is the Second Dynamic: Sex.
"Apparently he would like to get something started with her in this area," said Alverso. "I told her to stay in comm (communication) with him and not to ARC-X the guy but to gently discourage him while letting him know that it was her fault, not his as she is pretty screwed up after her last 2-D experience, and is not ready to get involved again.
"I told her that she could go out with him occasionally for dinner, but nothing more serious, and to make this known from the beginning. She understood completely and has absolutely no intention of getting involved with this guy who, incidentally, she has a hard time of bearing at all. She does get good data from him on Scn."
June's reports were passed along to other Guardians by Tom Ritchie, collections officer for Flag.
March 8: "There will be an article in tomorrow's Clearwater Sun by Mark Sableman on C of S tax exemption. The article will state that the church stands to save $50,000 by claiming tax exempt status ..."
March 9: "Sableman, CW Sun reporter, had a tape of last night's Jim Dick show, 'This Thing Called Scientology.' While reviewing the tape Sableman stated that he didn't know what his next plan of action would be and that he would have to get in comm with Ron Stuart, the managing editor on it ..."
March 10: A seven-page "raw data report" on Sableman's "Fort Harrison Hotel" file.
March 11: "As you know, CW Sun reporter Stephen Advokat went to Canada to interview the McLeans for a story on us. It was previously reported that he would be staying in a ski resort outside Toronto, which he may well have, but as of this evening he is staying with the McLeans themselves. They are reportedly very 'chummy.' Last night CW Sun reporter Mark Sableman spoke with a disaffected Scientologist in this area. We as yet do not have the name of this person ..."
On March 17, June struck paydirt. She reported that Assistant City Editor Tom Coat, posing as a freelance photographer, was taking a Scientology communications course at the Tampa mission. "Coat says that he hates doing the comm course and that it is sheer drudgery," the report stated. "Coat states that he was doing the course so that he could do a story on Scientology. Coat is scheduled to graduate from the comm course tomorrow night."
At his final session, Coat was exposed by church officials. In a press release, the church accused Coat of infiltrating their Tampa mission, located in a storefront center across the street from the University of Tampa. A few days later the church filed a $250,000 damage suit in Tampa against Coat and the Clearwater Sun accusing them of violating the privacy and confidentiality of the church by having Coat join it under false pretenses and then take part in an advanced training course.
In her report on the law suit, June said Coat learned about it while driving along the beach. "He went into shock," the report said. "Today he was shaking like a leaf wondering just what we could do to him."
If a word was said in the Sun newsroom about Scientology, June reported it. She peeked at reporter's notes, at editor's appointment pads. She passed along information about John and Nan McLean, two disaffected Scientologists from Canada, coming to Clearwater. On the basis of her information, public relations officials of the church walked in on a private meeting between the McLeans and Mayor Cazares.
She reported that the Sun planned to compile its articles on Scientology into a book and the joke around the newsroom was that it would be entitled "All Hubbard's Men."
Managing editor Stuart had been given a dart board by Sableman and Advokat that had Scientology across the top of it and a picture of founder Hubbard as the bullseye, she reported. "He kept hitting the bullseye," she added.
On April 29, Weigand received a report from Sunrise Mission on Operation China Shop, an investigation of the financial status of the Clearwater Sun. "Our target on this, very confidentially, is ownership or control of the paper," the report said.
Apparently no effort was ever made by the church to buy the Sun. But on May 11, 1976, church officials visited the Greensboro, N.C. offices of the Jefferson Pilot Corp., owner of the Sun.
The purpose of the visit, a church document states, was "to halt the CW Sun publication by bypassing up the Org (organization) board to the very top ... meeting with officials there and obtaining their aid in stopping the CW Sun, which they own, from printing a booklet on Scientology."
The church team first met with Howard Holderness, chairman of the corporation, and he referred them to the associate general counsel, Robert H. Koonts.
Steve Heard, director of Branch I public relations for Flag, wrote Fred Rock, assistant guardian for public relations for Flag, that the team gave Koonts a copy of what the Sun had written and told him the church was not anxious to sue.
"He then stressed how his organization had better things to do than fight court battles and that we probably did too," Heard said. Koonts asked what could be done about the suit against the Sun and Coat, he said, and "we told him that we could only talk to the Board of Directors" but that the church always tried to resolve things through constructive communication.
"He then said that the fact that we came up to North Carolina surely indicated something about us (i.e. our good faith) and suggested that we talk to our board and then get back to him and that he would then come down here and see us and hopefully work things out," Heard said. "He again brought up such things as handling the 'direction of the Sun' re Scientology and added for us not to worry about the booklet."
Heard concluded: "It appears that he will stop the Sun from putting out the booklet."
And soon after came this report from inside the Sun: "Latest feedback indicates the book is stopped -- negatives for the book are gone, Stuart's Scn dart board has disappeared."