Omar Shriner Busted in Undercover Investigation
Thu Mar 27, 2008
news, royal-order-of-jesters, dorchester-shrine-club, undercover-officers, omar-shrine-templeSandy FrostThe Omar Shrine Temple, located near Charleston, South Carolina, is in the news again.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported that on March 15, the Mt. Pleasant Police Department sent a team of undercover agents to the Omar Shrine Temple who caught a Shriner selling illegal alcohol.
The headlines read "73-year-old Shriner busted with special-recipe 'apple pie'" and "Shriner and girlfriend busted in alcohol sting."
Sgt. Steve Meadows, public information officer for the Mt. Pleasant Police Department, said that the department was contacted by members of the Omar Shrine Temple to investigate alleged alcohol violations at Shriner functions. According to the police report, "The subjects would conduct the illegal sales at the Shriner functions held at the Omar Shrine Center at Patriots Point Rd."
The police report describes how the undercover agents conducted their investigation at the Omar Shrine Temple including how they bought two Mason jars of the illegal alcohol concoction. The police report further details how the undercover officers confronted Broome and Gaitlin at their vehicle, how the couple consented to a vehicle search, how the officers confiscated five mason jars of the liquid, how the couple signed a consent form to search their home and how officers confiscated 58 more jars that were placed into evidence.
The real problem, according to Sgt. Meadows, is that Shriner C.A. Gaitlin and his girlfriend, Janie Broome, did not have an ABC permit to sell alcohol.
"Charges are pending," Sgt. Meadows explained. "Gaitlin was released on his own recognizance and once he returns from vacation, will turn himself in to be taken before a judge and charged with the illegal sale of legal liquor."
Additionally, the undercover agents also saw men smoking marijuana outside the building and in the Omar Shrine Temple's parking lot. According to police reports, these non-Shriners were arrested on drug/narcotic and drug equipment violations for possessing a pipe, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.
Verle Bohrn, Omar Shrine Temple recorder, has been in meetings for two days and has been unavailable for comment but the Charleston Post and Courier quoted him as saying:
'"All the illegal activities occurred outside the building itself and that the Omar Shrine Temple doesn't condone this behavior. The event was open to the public, and none of the people arrested on drug charges belong to the century-old local organization" he said. Gatlin has been with the Shriners for 30 years or more, and the 'apple pie' sales likely won't affect his status. "He might get a slap on the wrist a little bit, but that's about it,' Bohrn said."
This is in sharp contrast to what the Charleston Post and Courier reported in an article headlined "Shriners Lament Takeover of Club: Members of Dorchester Group Say New Leaders Will Harm Mission." The article reported on the Orem Shrine Temple's takeover of the Dorchester Shrine Club.
The article began:
"It felt like a raid, Dick Pollard said, describing the night the potentate of the Omar Shrine in Mount Pleasant stripped members of the Dorchester Shrine Club (DSC) of their power and rights.
Pollard, who has been a member of the Shrine for more than 20 years, describes the night back in August as a hostile takeover in which Potentate Jimmy James came into the Shriners' meeting with Dorchester County police and announced he was appointing new officers. Members also were told they would not be setting their own bylaws and that they were prohibited from organizing fundraisers, Pollard said."
A second article followed five days later and quoted potentate Jimmy James as saying he was forced to replace the officers because of complaints that they violated club bylaws and failed to obey his orders. The former officers were, according to James, "abusing their privileges and demonstrating conduct unbecoming of a Shriner." On August 17, 2006, potentate Jimmy James issued a statement that explained that the bylaws of the DSC were suspended and the club was now under his control.
He then wrote that:
"ALL officers, Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and Appointees are removed from office and that all funds including check books, cash advances to the club and cash on hand will be turned over to the temple treasurer IMMEDIATEY and that the potentate shall appoint all officers and committee chairmen."
"Nobles," James wrote, "We are distressed that the morals of some have caused these orders" and that "you have been forewarned over and over about the breeding grounds of drugs, excessive drinking, fights and the language" and that "the Club officers have totally disregarded Shrine Law."
"The temple has received letter after letter and phone call after phone call complaining about the immoral conduct that exists. THIS WILL STOP OR ELSE OTHER MEASURES WILL BE IMPLEMENTED. (Article 37, 337.3) – (1986 Proceedings) The Potentate having control over a Shrine Club may, during his term in office, terminate its existence, and he may authorize the formation of a new Shrine club. (Article 30, 330.1) 'A Noble is subject to discipline by the Temple of which he is a member, or by the temple within jurisdiction he resides, for conduct unbecoming a Noble of the Mystic Shrine or for violation of Shrine Law.'" Additionally, Shriners feel that Shrine law supersedes the laws of the land.
James apparently thought it convenient to rely on county sheriff's for his protection when he removed the DSC officers, yet embraced Shrine law, instead of the law of the land, by failing to prosecute these alleged crimes. In the matters of the drugs, drinking and fighting reported by James, the Dorchester County Sheriff's Department stated that "No one has made any written reports as to what Mr. James is claiming."
According to a statement from the past president who was thrown out, Gordon Brown:
"This was done abruptly, without even the human decency of a fair and reasonable notice and with the additional insult and attempted intimidation of an array of several law enforcement officers accompanying them."
"As reasoning for the removal," he continued "the Potentate cited that an alleged stack of 'complaints' against the President and club were piling up at a rate of about 16 a week. When we were removed from office we were given no chance to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations."
Why would the Omar Shriner who was caught for alcohol violations by undercover agents just get a "slap on the hand" when the Omar Shrine Temple cited undocumented complaints and unproduced letters to throw out the DSC officers and replace them with their own handpicked "officers" who then raised $70,540.86 in two years to pay off the club's mortgage while donating only $1,891.67 to the Shriners Hospitals for Children for the year as of November, 2007?
Officials with the IRS and South Carolina Secretary of State Department of Charitable Registration may be able to find the answers.
The Omar Shrine Temple failed to report on their 2006 group tax returns not only their primary exempt purpose, but that the DSC held events not related to their exempt purpose achievements of "fundraising events for the support of Shriners hospitals for crippled and burned children." Additionally, the Dorchester Shrine Club is not properly registered with the state as a charity nor has the Omar Shrine Temple restored club elections or re-instituted their bylaws.
When the Omar Temple took over the DSC, the potentate appointed new officers and a new board of advisors.
One of the DSC advisors is also a member of the Royal Order of Jesters, the same group that is being investigated by the FBI for interstate prostitution. This advisor is listed on the Royal Order of Jesters Court #113 tax returns for 2005 and 2006 as being in charge of the group's books. Additionally, this same advisor, who is the Impressario, or leader, of the Royal Order of Jesters Summerville Court #113, is on the same calendar that also names Ron Tills and Michael Stebick as event coordinator for Jesters' functions.
Tills, a former New York Supreme Court judge and law clerk, Stebick, both Jesters, resigned from their state court positions on Thursday, March 6. According to court documents, former police captain and Jester, John Trowbridge, pleaded guilty to "together with others, knowingly transporting a female, known to the parties as Jane Joe #1, in interstate commerce from the State of New York to the State of Kentucky, with the intent that Jane Doe #1 engage in prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2421 and 2." This is a felony.
An investigator close to the case said that he did not know if the Summerville Royal Order of Jesters Court #113 is being looked at by the FBI or any other agency as part of the Buffalo Royal Order of Jesters prostitution investigation.
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