Meet Gabe Cazares

Gabe Cazares has been an active, community-minded man his entire life. It was his actions as mayor of Clearwater, however, that forever entwined Gabe with the Church of Scientology.

Gabe served in World War II, receiving the bronze star; was in the Air Force for 23 years; received a Master’s degree in Business Management; was a stock broker; and from 1975 to 1978 was mayor of Clearwater Florida.

He later was Pinellas County commissioner, and served on countless state, county and city commissions, boards, and civic groups. He helped found the Pinellas County Habitat for Humanity chapter. Gabe has received many community service awards, including the Cult Awareness Network’s Leo J. Ryan Award in 1986.


The same year Gabe became mayor of Clearwater, Scientology purchased the Ft. Harrison hotel and the old bank building in downtown. They disguised themselves as United Churches of Florida

. Their secretiveness and bizarre behavior, such as their abundance of guards surrounding their properties, aroused Gabe’s suspicions. No one had ever heard of United Churches of Florida before.

On January 26, 1976 Gabe, host Bob Snyder, and Sorrell Allen and Milton Wolfe representing United Churches appeared on WDCL radio.

Allen had promised that on this program he would finally answer who United Churches was. Instead he read a prepared statement stating who they were not:

“We are not connected to gambling interests, we are not the Mafia, nor are we Rockefeller-financed. We do not represent New York bankers nor do we represent the Queen of England, nor Lord Thompson of Canada.”

Gabe stated simply that “the people of Clearwater want to know what’s up” and complained again about the abundance of security guards with Mace and billy clubs protecting the Ft. Harrison Hotel.


On January 28 the Church of Scientology, after much public scrutiny and pressure, announced that it was behind United Churches of Florida. Cazares was incensed:

“The Fort Harrison has been there for half a century and now, for the first time, it is actually a fort… it’s frightening.”

Pointing incredulously to guards on the roof, he added:

“There’s no doubt about it. Those are armed guards on regular patrol.”

Scientology was not amused. On January 30, new Scientology spokesman Arthur Maren struck hard at Cazares’ reputation in a press conference.

On February 6 Scientology filed a $1 million lawsuit against Cazares, claiming libel, slander, and violation of civil rights.

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