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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 12 Mar 2019 07:05
When the Swami dies, eleven senior disciples declare themselves gurus and take control of the movement. In Berkeley, Hansadutta becomes paranoid and starts amassing an arsenal of weapons. In West Virginia, Keith Ham finishes constructing his palace of gold. But when new devotees with records for violent crime join the commune, Deputy Westfall grows alarmed. A drug smuggling operation at the Krishna Temple in Laguna Beach ends in murder when temple leaders pair up with ex-mafia informants.
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Swami Prabhupada lies in a bed in a sacred temple in Vrindavan India. It's November of 1977, and the revered founder of the Hari Krishna movement is near death. Inside the door, dozens of his followers chant, imploring God Krishna to bring him back to health. The Swami chants softly too, but he asks for nothing. He knows what happens next is up to Krishna. Memories wash over him. Was it really only 12 years ago that he stepped off a freighter in New York City? He weekly turns his head to Purimaharaja, a dear old friend and God brother who sits by his side. Purim, do you know that I almost died on the way to New York? I had a heart attack. There was no doctor on that boat. I was almost 70. My business does an old man half, going halfway around the world with nothing but a pot to cook rice and a few rupees in his pocket. What business? Krishna's business. He had a plan for you. Yes, he had a plan. But what is his plan for when I'm gone? It's a question that's been troubling the Swami for a long time. He never imagined the movement would grow so fast or so big. There are nearly a hundred Hari Krishna temples and tens of thousands of followers in thirty countries. Celebrities have given their talents and money. George Harrison recorded the hit song, My Sweet Lord, in praise of Krishna. Henry Ford's great grandson donated a historic mansion for the Detroit Temple. The Hari Krishna's raised millions of dollars a year by publishing books and making candles and trinkets. But many also solicit for non existent cherries and so counterfeit merchandise. And they do it under orders from their temple leaders. The Swami is probably not aware of the extent of the temple leaders scams. Although he once wrote that it was acceptable to beg, borrow or steal to raise money for Krishna, he was referring to things like panhandling, not serious crimes. Now the Swami worries some of his disciples are taking begging and stealing too far. But he is dying and he has no time to fix things. Almost every day a letter with a new problem arrives. Disciples unhappy with their arranged marriages or disputes between temple leaders. Hari takes a cloth and gently wipes the Swami's brow. It's a sad irony that the only person the Swami can trust is Puri. For he isn't one of his disciples, he is his own temple. And he's not afraid to speak his mind. Unless you stay, there will be no peace and unity among these Westerners. They have very strong heads. They won't unite. After your demise, the institution will be nowhere if you don't make a decision. I should call myself problem pod. He knows Puri is right. That's why he created the governing body commission seven years earlier. He divided the world into zones and appointed a leader to oversee each one. He made it clear that none of them were on the same spiritual level as him and therefore none of them could take over when he died. His hope was that they would each keep each other in check but they immediately began to compete for power and influence. Maharaja Puri scoffs at the Swami's plan. You have selected eleven Guru's. There can be no harmony. Guru must be one. I have not selected eleven Guru's Puri. I have given them a lower rank. As long as you survive, they are a lower rank. After your demise, they will declare themselves Guru's. The Swami looks into his friend's eyes. They're full of love, but they're sorrow in them too. What shall I do now, Puri? I've done my duty. Everything is Krishna's will. What can I do? Chant. We'll chant together. The Swami gently chants the mantra that has brought him solace, peace, and enlightenment for his entire life. Words he will soon say for the last time. Hari Krishna. Hari Krishna. Krishna Krishna. Hari Hari. Hari Rama. Hari Rama. Rama Rama. Hari Hari. On November 14, 1977, Swami Prabhupad, age 81, draws his final breath. His death is peaceful. 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From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American Scandal. This is the third episode of our six part series on a scandal that started with peaceful chanting, what ended in murder. In our last episode, an ambitious young disciple named Keith Ham tried to rest control of the movement from the elderly Swami who founded it. He started a Krishna commune of his own in rural West Virginia, but he struggled to attract followers. So he repented, apologizing to the Swami and got back into his good graces. His commune, Newverendobin, grows and prospers, so too do Keith's ambitions. He's overseeing scams and drug dealing to bring in money. He builds up an arsenal of weapons and recruits ex cons to become union enforcers, and he is still determined to be the Swami's sole successor. This is episode three, A Visual of Vultures. In February of 1978, the 11 most powerful members of the governing body commission, Gather in Mayapur, the Holy City on the banks of the Ganges River, inch their first meeting since the Swami's death. They sit on pillows around a long table. Just as the Swami's friend predicted, there's nothing resembling harmony. Keith Ham, Kirtananda, slaps his palm against the tabletop as a debate rages. If we aren't worshipped as Swami Prad was, the followers faith will be shaken. We need to be called gurus. Rameshvar shakes his head angrily. Based in Los Angeles, he's a powerful member of the council with an important job. Managing the book trust that publishes all of the Swami's writings. That is not what the Swami wanted Kirtananda. He put us in charge, Rameshvar. It's up to us to decide. It's up to us to carry out his wishes. Our job is to interpret his wishes. Here's what we'll say to the devotees. Someone write this down. Prabhu Pond has chosen 11 of his disciples to be initiating gurus. Previously, many of their Godbrothers have dealt with these gurus as familiar friends. Now these Godbrothers are to be worshipped as genuine spiritual masters. What do we think? Rameshvar looks at the others. He could keep arguing, but he knows it's pointless. Most of them fly first class around the world. One of them eats off gold plated dishes and travels around Europe and your Mercedes limousine. Another has a private chef. Each of them lives lavish lifestyles while preaching that material things are meaningless. They behave more like emperors than gurus. It's not what the Swami intended, but Rameshvar can see he's outnumbered, so he gives in. After all, there are worse things than being worshipped as a God. With their new guru's status established, they look for a way to convey their higher rank to the devotees. They come up with a simple solution. Each temple will have three elaborate and identical thrones. One will be roped off and have the Swami statue or picture on it so that his presence will always be felt. Another will be for the local guru and the third throne will be for visiting gurus. The powerful message conveyed by furniture is that they are all equal to the Swami. Finally, the 11 board members compose verses for devotees to sing in their honor. They fly back to their temples first class with a renewed sense of purpose and ambition. When Hamsuduta steps off the plane in San Francisco, he's met by a flock of devotees filling the airport terminal, waiting to give him a hero's welcome. There are so many of them, singing, dancing and shouting Hamsuduta's praises that other passengers have trouble getting through the throne. There are reporters there too. Hamsuduta feels like a rock star. He breaks out to an ecstatic dance, working the crowd into a frenzy. But the festive mood is broken when one of the reporters calls out to him. There are rumors that women in the Berkeley temple have been abused. Do you have a comment? Hamsuduta tries to stammer and excuse, but he has a problem. The rumors are true. One way the Christianist raised money is by soliciting donations for non existent charities. They've learned that teams of young, attractive women dressed in street clothes bring in the most cash. The disciple who manages the team at Hamsuduta's temple is a tyrant by the name of Jiva. He's a former San Quentin inmate who jokes that his life's ambition is to be a pimp. But he's not joking. If the women on his team bring in their quota of money, he has sex with them. If they don't, he beats them. And to keep them working 18 hours a day, he gives them infetimines. Hamsuduta has a drug habit of his own. He is addicted to cough syrup and barbedoets. The drugs have made him paranoid and erratic, and now with the press sniffing around about abuse at the Berkeley temple, his paranoia is in full swing. Jiva has become a liability. When he returns to the temple, Hamsuduta summons Jiva to his office. It's simple and sparse, all the better to hide Hamsuduta's elaborate ambitions. Jiva enters and as his custom prostrates himself. While Jiva's lying on the floor, Hamsuduta jumps onto his back and presses the muzzle of a 38 against his head. He tells Jiva he's no longer in charge of the women. They'll report to him now. Jiva does not argue with a man who's holding a gun. Hamsuduta leans in and whispers in Jiva's ear. You're also going to take a vow of Sanyas. Sanyas is the final stage of spiritual evolution, where a devotee takes a vow of renunciation. Let's go to the material world and concentrate on the spiritual one. Being a Sanyas requires a vow of celibacy. It's not a vow one usually takes a gunpoint, but Jiva doesn't have much of a choice. And as for Hamsuduta's own valid celibacy, well, the women belong to him now, and he's a supreme spiritual leader. He'll do what he wants. As words spreads that the 11 governing board council members have declared themselves equal to the Swami, a group of temple leaders come together to oppose what they derisively call the magnificent 11. They campaign to have the new gurus removed from office and the dispute grows violent. The Hari Krishna movement is starting to fracture, but the magnificent 11 are determined to hold onto their power. Since his return from Maya poor, Heath Ham focuses on completing the construction of the palace of gold. It will be the centerpiece of Nuvaran Dhaban, his West Virginia commune. Originally, the palace was to be a tribute to the Swami, and the place where he would spend his final days. Now that the Swami has died, he fows to make it the most spectacular temple in the world. None of the Nuvaran Dhaban residents have formal training and architecture, but that doesn't stop them. The temple will have over 8,000 square feet of gold leaf on the exterior walls, crystal chandeliers, and marble from 17 countries adorning the interior. Each of the stained glass windows has over 1,500 pieces of hand cut glass. The plans call for manicured grounds, leading to a lake with a boat shaped like a giant swan. Heath still says it's a shrine to the Swami, but his real plan is to entice followers to leave other temples, to move to Nuvaran Dhaban and worship him. From there, he'll take over the movement and be the Swami's sole successor. The locals in the neighboring town of Moundsville are curious about the ornate structure sprouting from the foothills. Heath harnesses their curiosity by pitching it as part temple and part tourist attraction. Tourists will bring in revenue for the Hari Krishna's as well as the town, creating goodwill all around. To further solidify his good neighbor status, Heath starts a program to bring free meals to local residents who live in poverty. He envisions the Krishna's and the West Virginia locals, coexisting in harmony. But Deputy Tom Westfall watches the new activity with growing concern. He keeps close tabs on the residents, comings and goings and runs background checks on new residents. Ever since Heath's false claim of a biker gang attack at the commune, the new arrivals have been different. Many of them have rap sheets for violent crimes. Westfall cultivates informants wherever he can, but most of the Hari Krishna's want nothing to do with cops. The locals are more forthcoming. If they had their way, Westfall would run the Krishna's out of town. They view them as strange interlopers with orange robes, nonsense chanting and weird haircuts. They routinely hassle Krishna's who go into mountsville. Someone even burned down a devotee's home, but Westfall hasn't been able to idea suspect. Keith is in county on cops like Westfall to protect the Hari Krishna's. After the alleged biker gang attacked, the Swami urged Heath to defend the commune himself. So as far as Keith's concerned, he is the Swami's blessing to use any means necessary. And as fate, or perhaps Krishna would have it, Thomas Dresher showed up a few months later. In April of 1978, Keith initiates Dresher and gives him the name Teerta. Teerta's unofficial title is Chief Enforcer. He is a plan for how to stop the locals from harassing the devotees. All it will take is a little negotiating. He keeps his eye on a local bar called the Sky View Inn. It's on a road that runs through the middle of the Krishna's territory, and it's a favorite wandering hole of locals. After a night of drinking, they'll often try to run Krishna's off the road or take pot shots at their houses. One of the worst offenders lives in a battered trailer across the street from the Sky View Inn. His name is Jerry Williams, and Teerta is determined to teach him a lesson. He just needs the right opportunity. One gloomy overcast day, Teerta is passing through the nearby village of Elm Grove. It's nothing but a couple of shops in a supermarket, but sitting in the supermarket parking lot is Jerry's pickup. Teerta takes it as a sign. He parks his truck and grabs the Louisville slugger he keeps behind the passenger seat. He sits on the running board and waits patiently. After a few minutes, Teerta's target exits the market and heads towards his truck, laden with bags of groceries. Teerta walks up behind him, and in his most neighborly voice says, hey, let me help you with that. As Jerry turns, Teerta swings. The back connects with Jerry's right knee and he goes down, but Teerta isn't done. He raises the bat and hits Jerry again and again as he rides on the ground. When Teerta satisfied his point has been made, he leans in and smiles. Think about this the next time you play games with us, Jerry. There's a lot more coming if you don't wise up. Next, Teerta fire bombs a local's house to retaliate for the Krishna home that was burned down. Rumors spread through town that the hairy critters are armed and dangerous, and the harassment drops off. Teerta's methods are effective. But it's not just the locals who fear Teerta. Many of the residents are afraid of him too. And Teerta likes it that way. He's got a sadistic streak. He enjoys seeing fear in a man's eyes when he walked into a room. The devotees begin to worry. Is Teerta following orders from Keith or is he alone wolf? Some argue that Teerta is crazy. Doing things Keith would never approve of. Others insist the Keith is orchestrating every move, but pretends to be in the dark so he can't be held responsible. Whoever is pulling the strings, it's just the beginning of a violence that will turn locals even more against them and have the Krishna community terrified. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion or you woke up in the morgue or you were seriously injured miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening during listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening is available ad free only with Wondry Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. It's May 1978, Chuck St. Dennis leans over a tray of Coke, with a shorty straw and takes a long snort before hitting out the door of the Laguna Beach Harry Christian temple. He's only 23, but he's seen enough misfortune for five lifetimes. He joined a gang, spent time in Judy. Then six years ago, he discovered the Harry Christianis. The discipline and structure helped him get sober, but now his life has come full circle and not in a good way. He's back to dealing drugs, but this time, he's dealing for Krishna. As he strolls along the beach, he's not easy to miss. He's six foot four, 220 pounds of muscle. A skinny hippie approaches him. After a brief exchange, the hippie struts away with a bag of weed as Chuck stuffs a lot of money in his pocket. Maybe he'll use some to grab a snack before turning the cash over to the temple leaders. He at least deserves that. He's bringing in thousands of dollars and lives like a monk, while the temple leaders live like millionaires. The Laguna Beach temple is run by Joe Davis and Roy Richard, two former drug addicts who also got sober when they became Krishna's. They credit Krishna consciousness with helping them to get clean and lead productive lives. But when faced with the need to raise more money, they turn to old habits. The temple sells the Swami's books as well as candles and trinkets, but it's not much of an income stream. On a trip to India, a solution falls into their laps. A taxi driver offers to help pay for their trip home by hooking them up with a drug dealer. He tells them they can smuggle the drugs back in their luggage or even under their robes. It's easy money. Richard thinks it's too risky. Davis agrees it's too risky for them to do right now, but they've got devotees who will follow orders. It's perfect, he tells Richard. The devotees will smuggle and sell hash oil or heroin and they'll use the proceeds to build more temples. And from those temples, they'll reach out to addicts and help them kick the habit through Krishna consciousness. They'll use drugs to save people from drugs. The drug smuggling operation is a smashing success. From 1976 to 1978, they make millions of dollars and most, but not all, goes to Iskan, the international society for Krishna consciousness, founded by the Swami. Iskan uses the funds to build new temples around the world and Davis and Richard are heroes, but they're also keeping a cut for themselves. Pretty sizable one, enough to buy beach front mansions and luxury cars. Shortly after the six foot four, Chuck St. Dennis joins the temple, they recruit him to help sell the drugs. After all, he was a dealer when he was a teenager, so he's got the right resume. And it's not long before Chuck is sampling his own wares, and soon, instead of chanting, he's binging on cocaine. Davis and Richard developed their own cocavids too, but they've got bigger problems. They've partnered with Alexander Kulik and Steve Boven, two ex mafia informants. The government relocated them to Laguna Beach under the witness protection program, but they weren't ready to retire. Kulik helps distribute the drugs the devotees smuggle in, and Boven sets up shell companies to launder the profits. But as the money starts flowing, the two mobsters become suspicious of each other. They each accuse the other of skimming profits, and their argument quickly escalates. On a cool October morning in 1977, Boven calls the Laguna Beach Temple and tells the two leaders to get on the line and listen very carefully. He calmly informs them that he's kidnapped Kulik, and unless they deliver $100,000 in the next 24 hours, he'll kill Kulik, both of them as well. The two leaders are terrified to find themselves in the middle of a mob war. The next morning, Joe Davis, twitching and paranoid from a four day cocaine binge, wraps $100,000 in newspaper, and drops it in a trash can at Corona Del Mar State Beach. When Kulik is released, he promptly takes revenge and guns boven down. Boven's men go to the police and spill the details of the temple leader's drugs muggling empire. The temple leaders and many of the devotees are arrested. It's a sad end to a bad idea, and it's only the beginning of a string of criminal cases connected to the Christmas. Tall buff Chuck St. Dennis is lucky, though. He isn't arrested, but he definitely feels the heat. He wants to get as far away from California as he can. Start over, somewhere remote, get clean. He decides to relocate to New Vrendauban. When Chuck arrives at New Vrendauban early in 1979, he knows he's made the right decision. It's a simpler life than Laguna Beach. That suits him fine. He's not ready to become a full devotee again, so he lives as a fringy. The name given to people who live on the commune, but don't follow the strict rules of the religion, like not eating meat, drinking, using drugs or having sex more than once a month. He doesn't give up drugs completely, but he's able to kick his cocaine habit. A year later, he falls in love with a commune's nurse, Debra Geer, a strong, self reliant woman with curly red hair. She's the commune's only nurse, which doesn't leave her much time to chant or practice, but they are both sincere followers and believe in the work the commune is doing. Their opinions, though, will soon change. New Vrendauban continues to grow when attract followers. By 1979, when the Palace of Gold is dedicated, there are around 200 full time residents. It's quickly dubbed America's Taj Mahal. Nearby, they construct a guest lodge and a vegetarian restaurant to accommodate visiting Krishna's and curious tourists. Keith Ham has achieved his goal. He has built the most spectacular temple outside of India, and more importantly, his influence is growing. Devotees are leaving other temples and moving to New Vrendauban to be part of his thriving community. But it's not just the Palace that excites Keith. It's the power. When he gives an order, it's carried out without question. He reminds his followers that he is the direct conduit to Krishna. He is the path to enlightenment. He exists on the highest spiritual plane. He has the answers, devotees seek. Many of them arrive broken and broke. Some are looking to fill a hole in their lives. Others want a community where they feel unconditional love and acceptance. Some, like Chuck St. Dennis, just want a fresh start. Like many religions, the Hari Krishna's offer a loving and forgiving God. Through Krishna's love, people can heal. Begin a new and blossom. But at New Vrendauban, there's only one pathway to Krishna. And it's through Kirtana Nanda Swami Bhaktipad. Keith Ham. Sometimes he feels like he can do anything. Even horrible things. He takes a seven year old boy to be his personal servant for a week. The boy's mother considers it an honor that he was chosen. So when her son tells her, Kirtana Nanda Swami fondles my genitals. She chastises him for making up stories. Keith isn't worried about being caught. He may not even think what he's doing is wrong. He believes he'll never be held accountable. Because he is divine. Hamsa Duta, Keith's old rival who runs the Berkeley temple, is equally out of control. Since pulling a gun on Jeeva, he's happily added pimp to his resume. He's still addicted to pills and cough syrup and they've made him both paranoid and grandiose. He's not about to be outdone by Keith and his golden palace. He's decided he is going to be a rock star. He uses $30,000 of temple funds to cut a record. His first album, Nice But Dead, is a flop. With lyrics like, did you ever see a guru flying a plane? Thin as a cane, looking insane. It's not surprising that it didn't make the billboard charts. The record has been an expensive vanity project and its failure only contributes to Hamsa Duta's paranoia, which finally explodes on a first class flight back from the Philippines. Hamsa Duta pounds the armrest of his first class seat. Then jabs his finger into the ribs of the devotee seated next to him. Michael Pulyesa. Pulyesa's job is to hold Hamsa Duta's medicine kit. The little black bag for the percussette and other drugs. Michael, give me. I think you're okay, Hamsa Duta. Since when do you tell me if I'm okay or not okay? I'm not okay. I said, give me. Michael furtively unzips his bag and tries to fish out a pill without the stewardess noticing. She's already eyeing Hamsa Duta, who's clearly way too high. Maybe I should have the stewardess bring you some tea, Hamsa Duta. Ah, tea, did I ask for tea? No, I did not. Hamsa Duta, relax. You don't love me, Michael. None of you love me. Sit down. I am not loved. Swammer Prabhu Bada was loved, but not me. Hamsa Duta is out of his seat and staggering down the aisle. The devotees in his entourage jump up and try to calm him as the stewardess rushes over. Sir, you need to remain in your seat with your seat belt fastened. Hamsa Duta jumps into an empty seat and rails at his followers. All of you are liars. You're jealous. You're plotting against me. You've warned me. Prabhu Pada wanted me to lead the movement. Me. Not Kitana Nanda, fraud, or anyone else. Me. The plane hits an air pocket and Hamsa Duta tumbles into the lap of a startled passenger. He leaps up and runs down the aisle, screaming. Two stewards rush forward from the coach cabin and tackle him. When the plane touches down in San Francisco, his devotees fill the terminal as they always do, waiting to provide an elaborate welcome to their intrepid leader. But this time, instead of chanting and dancing, they stand in stunned silence as Hamsa Duta's lead off the plane in handcuffs. Despite Hamsa Duta's drug addled meltdown, nothing happens. No trial, no conviction. He goes back to his temple where he remains in power, getting more paranoid and delusional by the day. He decides to build up an arsenal of weapons, just like his rival Keith Ham, 3000 miles away. And like Keith, none of his devotees question him. And also like Keith, he enlists a devotee with an unsavory pass to help him, a Ukrainian who goes by the name Vipra, and stockpiles 357 magnums, 9mm, and HK91 assault rifles. Officer Joe Sanchez of the Berkeley Police Department has been monitoring the Christian temple with alarm. Much like Tom Westfall, the deputy sheriff in West Virginia, who's been keeping tabs on Newver and Dauban, it's a personal project. When officer Sanchez runs background checks on some of the devotees, he's shocked. They have serious rap sheets, assault, drug smuggling, robberies. And lots of money is flowing into the temple, and into Hamsa Duta's hands. His superiors aren't interested in launching a full scale investigation of the temple, so he contacts the FBI and the IRS, but they just send form letters in reply. His research keeps pointing to Newver and Dauban, and he hears about a local deputy who's been watching the Christianists for years. When he calls deputy Westfall, he finds a kindred spirit. They spend an hour comparing notes. They agree that while many of the Christianers are sweet, harmless hippies, they've seen an alarming number of hardened criminals moving in. It seems pretty clear that the harry christmas are involved in all sorts of illegal activities. Westfall talks to cops wherever there are Christian temples, and over the years he's become an expert, documenting their scams and tracking their movements. The two cops share the same uneasy feeling. This isn't going to end well. They agree to keep in touch. In December of 1980, Jane Bryant arrives at Newver and Dauban. She's a pretty green eyed woman in her early 20s, and she's thrilled to leave her native England behind. She joined the temple in London where she met Steve Bryant. They were married two weeks later. When Jane gets pregnant, they decide to raise their children away from a big city. The story she heard about Newver and Dauban makes it sound like some sort of Eden. And when she arrives, it does seem to be a paradise. She's eager to chant, pray, and work for Krishna. But she's given what may be the hardest job in the entire commune. She's in charge of the children's nursery. And while the golden palace is opulent and sparkling, the nursery looks almost medieval. It's a rickety old barn. The 15 babies and toddlers are embattered cribs, or crawling around a filthy floor. Most of them are bloated from parasites. At first, she was flattered that the temple leaders thought she could handle such a big responsibility. Now, she's overwhelmed. The temple leaders are impressed, though. When they urge her to be initiated as a full devotee, she's confused. Devotees are rarely initiated so quickly. Most importantly, a married woman is not supposed to be initiated without her husband's consent. Her husband, Steve, is in India, trying to start an import export business. She thinks they should wait until he arrives. But Keith dismisses her concerns, and she doesn't dare question him. She's convinced that moving to Newver and Dauban was the right decision, and Keith is the reason why. Ever since she joined the Krishna's in London, she's been searching for a spiritual guide. When she married Steve, she thought it would be him, but he's been a disappointment. He's petty and controlling, but as soon as she met Keith, she knew she'd found what she'd been searching for. She's inspired by his passionate sermons, and when he looks at her, she feels chosen and powerful. So she agrees to be initiated, and she accepts the name Jamuna. But just as she feared, when Steve arrives at the commune, he's incensed. Not just that she was initiated without his permission. It's that Keith seems to be her new obsession. She talks about him constantly, quoting his sermons and singing his praises. When she's unsure of what to do, instead of turning to her husband for guidance, she goes to Keith. It becomes clear to Steve that his power has been usurped. He is not the master of his house. His wife doesn't look up to him. Instead, she barely tolerates him. He feels like Keith has spiritually stolen his wife. It's a crime he vows to avenge. Humsaduta is spiraling out of control. He's spending more and more time at the Berkeley Temple's 400 acre farm in the Northern California wine country. Enjoying nature, breathing the clean air, and building an arsenal of weapons. Every morning he heads out for target practice in a field. Whether it's a lack of talent or just drugs clouding his vision, he's not much of a marksman. One morning, a five year old child is playing in the field. Humsaduta misses his target by a wide margin and hits the boy. Luckily, the bullet strikes him in the hand, and the boy survives. The child and his parents are withed away to India and no one is allowed to speak of the incident. Ever since that day, Vipra, the community enforcer, insists on being present when Humsaduta is shooting. Remember, breathe naturally. How can I breathe naturally, Vipra? How can anyone breathe naturally when Armageddon is coming? You know what I need? A machine gun. A machine gun? Yes, with a silencer. You know how to build one? What for? We're going to knock over Fort Ward, steal the payroll. Humsaduta, that's crazy. Vipra nothing is crazy if you believe in Krishna. We have the power. Vipra has been a member of the Berkeley Temple for years, and he's Humsaduta's trusted confidant. But lately, Humsaduta has been confiding too much. It's clear he's become unhinged. He's literally armed and dangerous. And Vipra is the one who armed him. If Humsaduta really does try to carry out this crazy plan, he could bring down the entire movement. But Vipra doesn't know how to fix the situation. So he does nothing. It's an early February morning of 1980. Officer Sanchez of the Berkeley Police Department Smiles, as he looks at a piece of paper in his hand. It's the culmination of months of work. The search warrant for the Krishna's farm, where Humsaduta has been assembling his arsenal. Berkeley Police and deputies from two nearby counties surround the farm just after sunrise, holding the residents at gunpoint as they search every building. But Sanchez is disappointed. He sees as a grenade launcher, rifles, shotguns, and boxes of ammunition. But an informant described seeing hundreds of weapons. They must have been tipped off. When he gets back to the office, he calls Deputy Westfall in West Virginia, and fills him in on the raid. Westfall tells him not to give up. The raid proves the Krishna's are every bit as dangerous as they suspected. A few weeks after the raid on Humsaduta's farm, Sanchez raids a business owned by a member of the Berkeley Temple. This time, they find a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition. Numerous guns, eight pounds of explosive powder, and copies of Hitler's manifesto mine comp. When Sanchez tells Westfall about it, he can feel him shake his head in disbelief. Westfall says the old Swami must be spinning in his grave. The movement he founded couldn't have gone more, of course. Almost a year later, it's a brisk February evening in West Virginia. Steve Bryant has been trying to make a go of life at Newver and Dobin, but he's failing. He feels like everything he's done is a failure. His import export business was a bust, and now he works at the commune's fabrication shop, casting ornaments out of fiberglass. Fumes are horrible, and he returns home with a pounding headache. Home is another example of his failure. It's a rickety old camper shell without running water or a toilet. When he walks through the door, his wife Jane is beaming. That should make him feel better, but the reason she's smiling is because she's hanging a picture of Keith over their bed. Steve turns around and walks out, his head and his heart both pounding now. He walks through the commune's lake, trying to figure out where his life went off course. He was a college dropout with a surfer's good looks, and a mellow demeanor when he joined the Detroit Temple in 74. He fit in, and people liked him. Soon after, he decided to move to the Los Angeles Temple, where his trusting nature was taken advantage of. In his mind, he calls it the incident. Steve was a good masseur, and in LA, he considered it an act of service to give massages to the senior disciples. But one day, a high ranking disciple demanded more than just a massage. Steve balked, deeply uncomfortable, but the disciple kept pressuring him, saying he was on a higher spiritual plane than Steve, and that this wasn't a physical act, it's an act of spiritual devotion. Steve couldn't contradict a respected disciple. He gave in, and was left feeling guilty, confused, and angry. He's a failure, as a devotee, a father, and most of all, as a husband. He's miserable, but his wife, Jane, is thriving. She fawns over Keith, talking about him constantly. As Jane's husband, Steve should be the object of her affection. Instead, it's Keith. Steve feels trapped. He knows he deserves better. He has so much more to offer to the commune. All he needs is the opportunity to prove himself. He should have a job with real responsibilities, not making cheap ornaments and breathing toxic fumes. He decides to stop by Keith's office, to make his case. Enter. Steve tries to stand tall and proud. But as soon as he walks in, Keith's smiling face becomes a sneer. And Steve's confidence evaporates. Thank you for seeing me, Maharaj. I wanted to talk to you about what I have to offer the commune. Oh, have you come into a large inheritance? I'm joking. Oh, yeah, no, I have not. I just think that I have lots of skills, and I could be more useful if I had a better job. Better. Your current job isn't good enough for you. Is Newveren Dobin not good enough for you? What about your wife? Is she good enough? Am I good enough? That's not what I mean, Maharaj. Not at all. Everything is wonderful here. It's just that I get terrible headaches from the fibreglass fumes. The problem is not the fumes. The problem is you. You haven't sufficiently surrendered. But I chant, every... There's more to spiritual surrender than chanting. You have so far to go. I'm trying to guide you, yet you come here to complain. No, Maharaj, I'm not complaining. You should work all day, then drop your knees and gratitude, and thank me for the opportunity to be of service. But I am grateful. I just thought that is all you were dismissed. I'll re Krishna. I'll re Krishna. Steve goes back to his miserable job, but every day his anger grows. While Jain's devotion increases, his begins to fade. He is convinced Keith has spiritually stolen his wife. He chants less often. He begins to hang out with some of the fringes. He starts drinking again. He broods and obsesses about getting Jain back. But mostly, he continues to feel like a failure. As a husband, as a devotee and as a man. The way he sees it, Keith Ham is the cause of all his problems. One rainy day in April, Steve is on a rickety ladder trying to cover his leaking trailer with a tarp. He looks out across the commune where the main temple spires, stabs the gray sky. He feels like it's stabbing him in the back. That's where Keith sits on his decorated throne. While devout followers stand in a long line to toss flower petals at his feet and show their submission by prostrating themselves one by one at his feet. Keith is treated like a king, while Steve's merely a low peasant. Steve is beginning to suspect that Keith is a fraud. Rumors are swirling about Keith's unchristinal like activities. That he funded the construction of the palace of gold by having devotees smuggle drugs. That he's taking a cut of all the money that's coming in and keeping it for himself. He's starting to think that Keith is a sociopath, masquerading as a spiritual leader. Someone needs to expose him. To do so, would be serving Krishna. But he would also take guts and determination. Steve's always just been a follower. Keith is powerful. He has money and weapons and enforcers who take care of people who oppose him. Steve doesn't even have a roof to keep out the rain. He closes his eyes and chants, asking Krishna to show him his destiny. But no sage voice echoes in his head, only the pounding of the rain on the roof and the steady drip on the counter where a new leak has just appeared. Keith told him he needs to surrender. Steve laughs bitterly. He's beyond surrender. He's ready to give up. But fate or Krishna does have a plan for Steve Bryant. He will bring Keith him down. But it won't be an act of surrender. It will be the ultimate sacrifice. From wondering, this is episode three of eight of the Harry Krishna murders for American scandal. On the next episode, Treethe takes his role as enforcer to a whole new level and a new whistleblower levels explosive allegations against Keith. If you'd like to learn more about the Harry Krishna murders, we recommend the book, Killing for Krishna, the danger of deranged devotion from Henry Docktorsky. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by me Lindsey Graham for airship. Sound signed by Derek Barrett's. This episode is written by Steve Chivers, edited by Andrew Stelson. Executive producers are Stephanie Jenns, Marsha Louis, and her nonlopes for wondering.