Tuesday, March 2 2004 (Translated and posted 3-10-04)

Category: News

Nine are arrested, while the spiritual leader of the pseudo-religious community of Ananda, from which the joint operation of the carabinieri and the Customs Office's Gico has taken its name, is sought: he is unaccounted for, possibly in India. His name is W.J.D., 78 years of age, born in Romania but of American nationality. In Umbria, in the territory of Nocera Umbra, Gualdo Tadino, and Valfabbrica, three German citizens (L.M. of 56 years, K.J. of 37, G.O.H of 38), four Americans (S.S.K. one of three women of 58 years of age, R.F of 59, G.D.J of 51, and a man S.D.M of 51), and two Italians, one R.A.M from Barletta and one T.G.P from Venice, 47 years of age, were arrested during the night by order of the judge Nicla Restivo on the request of the assistant district attorney Antonella Duchini. The operation "Ananda" was reconstructed by commander Renato Gatti of the carabinieri, by the Colonel of the GDF Gianfranco Cardini, and by the lead prosecutor Nicola Miriano.

The crimes charged go from criminal association to coercion into slavery, swindling the mentally incompetent, fraud and usury. After the impoundment of 18 real estate units for several millions of euros (around 2 million euros),* 36 computers, 4 servers, now also bank accounts for 600 thousand euros** all traceable to the association and its followers, the investigators of the GDF and the CC are convinced they have put their hands on a vast circle of illegal funds. The investigations, begun over a year ago by the carabinieri of Nocera Umbra, originated from some reports by ex-followers that those under investigation would carry out criminal actions, not the least being the inducement to leave property behind in order to be "saved" from illnesses and misfortunes. The followers therefore abandoned everything and everyone to enter the association. The 'everything' then took the path toward commercialization on Ananda's Internet site of products with therapeutic properties that the Nas kept under surveillance, delivering a report to the Ministry of Health which ordered the impoundment of the products throughout the national territory.

Legal authorities then ordered property and financial assessments, that then led to searches by Gico, with the impoundment of real estate, among which was the so-called Temple of Light, in Assisi, a structure of about 350 square meters arranged on 3 levels with a dome of over 10 meters, used for mass spiritual meetings, but in time proven to be unlawful as an agricultural annex. This morning during a press conference the prosecutor Miriano said that those arrested "behaved in a manner of the highest social dangerousness; not weapons, but the force of persuasion concerning the subjects, who let themselves be convinced to give all their goods to the community".

In the "mother house" of Assisi, between Gualdo Tadino and Valfabbrica, not less than 8,000 visitors in three years have passed; the "bases" in Italy are around fifty, where whoever joined the Ananda association (and bases in various nations, in particular in the USA) had to pay room and board and place their possessions at the group's disposition, in order to obtain in addition to spiritual elevation, possible recoveries from physical and psychological pathologies.

Editor's note:

At current exchange rates of one Euro to 1.2191 US Dollars, this translates into:

*2,438,200 US Dollars

**731,460 US Dollars

Total: 3,169,660 US Dollars

For latest exchange rate information: