Ramtha student involved in perpetrating a Ponzi scam on American Greed episode:
Co-conspirator and student of Ramtha teachings, Louis Soteriou, is serving a seven-year prison sentence.
18 October 2014
I watched this episode of American Greed again. What is not clearly spelled out is how a cult member like Louis Soteriou could so thoroughly dupe a likeable storyteller, in this case, Mac Parker. The piece does mention that Louis Soteriou took Parker and his family out to Oregon to the Ramtha School of Enlightenment around 1999. Parker clearly comes back from that experience under a kind of spell, or what a clinician would call a folie a deux or shared psychotic dosorder.
Cult experts might call it a form of brainwashing.
I work in a mental hospital and have for the last 15 years in the intake area and crisis department. I have seen many folks come in with psychotic disorders with either manic or depressed features or the result of schizophrenia. Some folks with these disorders have fixed delusions, for example, having a chip in their skull put there by government that causes them to hear voices or have premonitions of the future. Others are grandiose and believe they have divine powers, even claiming "I am God" or "I am Jesus" or "I am possessed by the devil."
The vast majority of people with delusional thinking are not in mental hospitals and most likely never will be because they do not meet the crtieria of being a danger to themselves or others. They are merely crazy on the streets, your nutty uncle that believes Big Foot evidence on television is conclusive, your common religious pew sitter that believes the Gospel in his Bible is inerrant, or your cousin that believes that Reiki healing actually works. Most people with mild or common delusions are good citiziens, people that you have no problem with at parties or taking care of your dog. Many of them are trustworthy bank tellers, your waitresses, and sometimes your family doctors--wonderful people who entertain odd and false beliefs. Your doctor may have viisited Sylvia Brown, the once famous, now dead psychic, and paid her for an expensive "reading." Your waitress might be taking Scientology courses to become a living Operating Thetan (a god with unlimited powers). Your bank teller could be meditating every day for two hours using TM to enter a "brainwave coherence" that will bring peace to the planet and wealth to herself. We tend not to call the examples I gave of a waitress, doctor, and bank teller "delusional." We tend to say they are merely following their bliss or their faith or their opinions.
They are free to do so.
But are they free?
Mac Parker, in the documentary, pleads guilty to fraud and gets 4.5 years in a mid-level federal prison. He seems totally accepting of this, as if not emotionally appreciating all the damage he has done to hundreds of investors. He talks like a naive cult member of some New Age sect that claims there is no real right or wrong, it is all A "State of Mind" (the title of JZ Knight's (the cult leader) remarkably bizarre autobiography).
Louis Soteriou also pleads to 7 years. He does not appear on the film, which leads me to believe he is not an innocent dupe of mind control or brainwashing, rather he narcisstically absorbed the Ramtha teachings that fed easily into his crappy Ponzi scheme and fantastical lifestyle that he lived with money gained by a kind of fraud.
Oddly, in this story the explanation of undue influence of JZ Knight and her Ramtha teaching is totally missing. There is no close analysis of the cult and how thousands of lives have been damaged by it over the years in both direct and indirect ways, as with Parker. My guess is that going that close is too much for a simple TV show like American Greed to handle. Is it because JZ Knight and her Ramtha scam challenges the very essence of ethics and meaning of all religious groups throughout history? If so, that is indeed too great a topic for a second rate tv show.
July, 2014: The case of Mac Parker, a Vermont storyteller convicted in connection with a movie fundraising fraud scheme that victimized hundreds of Vermonters, is the subject of a CNBC episode of American Greed that airs 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Parker, now serving a 55-month sentence on fraud conspiracy and false tax document charges, raised more than $28 million for the still unfinished movie, "Birth of Innocence," between 1999 and 2009. Parker's silent partner and co-conspirator, Louis Soteriou, is serving a seven-year prison sentence.
The American Greed show, narrated by veteran actor Stacy Keach, features interviews with supporters and critics of Parker as well as others involved in the case. The show will rerun at 1 a.m. Thursday on CNBC.
American Greed, now in its eighth season, focuses on cases around the country about people victimized by frauds, swindles and other criminal activity.
In the Parker-Soteriou case, about 400 of the 700 people who Parker persuaded to invest in the movie ended up being owed about $7.5 million, court records show.
Two groups of investors are now battling each other in federal bankruptcy court over who gets control of the movie footage.