Shawano-area sect probe leaves questions after case closed
Although federal prosecutors will not pursue charges in connection to alleged threats against residents by a secretive group near Shawano, no one has given those named on the “implied threat” list the all clear.
“There is insufficient evidence at this time to merit criminal charges,” U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Dean Puschnig said Wednesday. “If further evidence is submitted, we’ll re-evaluate the situation.”
The FBI announced last week that it had concluded its investigation into the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology and had turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review.
The group, based on a compound in nearby Wescott, was the focus of a probe after investigators connected it to a 60-person list naming Shawano-area officials and residents to be “taken care of” and identified a person of interest.
Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt, whose name was on the list, talked with FBI officials Wednesday and received very little information.
The U.S. Attorneys Office says there isn’t enough evidence to file criminal charges in connection to an apparent hit-list, with the names of 60 Shawano area officials and citizens.
Federal authorites have been investigating the list since a Canadian businessman named Bob Cameron contacted police, claiming he was hired as a hit man to ‘take care of’ the people on the list. He says the list came from members of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, or SIST.
Local officials say SIST is a secretive religious organization that has been in the community for decades, and was once known as the ‘Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.’
SIST repeatedly denied they were being investigated, and said no one from the group was even questioned about the list. NewsChannel 7 contacted SIST’s attorney, Alan Eisenberg, about the closure of the case at the US Attorneys Office. He says it’s another media ‘smear job’ and denies the US Attorneys have made any statement about the case.
The FBI and local Shawano authorities made those 60 people aware of the list at a meeting in Shawano last fall.
Cameron made his claims about receiving the list public in December, in an interview with NewsChannel 7 and the CBS Evening news, shining a national spotlight on the investigation. He said SIST owed him money for go-carts he sold them for their racetrack. He claimed he gained SIST’s trust, and implied he could help them with their political problems. At that time, he said, they sent him the list with the word ‘Redrum’, which is murder spelled backwards, on top. Since that time, citizens of Shawano County, and especially the people on the list, have been waiting for someone to be held accountable.
Cameron tells NewsChannel 7 that no one, including federal authorities, has asked him about the list since our interview last year. Several officials, including Shawano Sheriff Randy Wright, Shawano City Attorney Tim Schmid, and Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt say they’ve been surprised by the lack of communication from the FBI about the case.
Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology shrouds small town in bad publicity
Court cases, lawsuits have kept religious group in the public eye
Group has been subject of gossip, harassment, even violence
Disenchanted followers of Samanta Roy explain why they left
Little is publicly known about local religious leader
Meanwhile the group is still in hot water over its finances:
SIST Bankruptcy Case Dismissed by Federal Judge
The group that has been the source of questions and controversy in the Shawano area is no longer under the protection of Federal Bankruptcy Court.
A Federal Bankrupcy Judge ruled that the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SIST) be dismissed Tuesday.
According to Federal Court records, SIST and its subsidiaries have nearly $22 million in liabilities, including nearly $14 million in unsecured debt.
In the following months, many of SIST’s creditors motioned to lift the automatic stay so they could move forward with foreclosure proceedings.
On September 15th, an apparent lack of progress by SIST in reducing their debt led the court to issue an Order to Show Cause, demanding SIST to show why the case should not be dismissed.
According to court documents, SIST failed to provide any such evidence.
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