Former Temple Members Eligible for Unclaimed Property

by Roger Stacy

Los Angeles Peoples Temple
Los Angeles Peoples Temple
Photo by Roger Stacy

With the demise of the Peoples Temple Christian Church of the Disciples of Christ as a non-profit corporation in December 1978, the hunt for assets soon began. Lurid stories of stashed millions abroad caught the interests of a fascinated and horrified public. It also brought great surprise and rage to many Temple members who feel they suffered needlessly and often went hungry because Jim Jones said cash was tight or that the church simply had no money to meet its monthly expenses.

Soon after church attorney Charles Garry filed for the dissolution of the corporation, the Superior Court appointed Robert Fabian to serve as Temple Receiver. He soon began the monumental task of tracking down assets of the Temple which apparently were predominantly stashed in Guyana and Panama.

Since the Temple had smuggled a tremendous amount of money on each trusted traveler into Guyana, the government of the South American country considered the cash found there to be contraband. Fabian had to travel to Guyana and file four different lawsuits there to recover the money, finally reaching a settlement. He also sold off Temple properties and invested Temple cash to generate interest revenue, and did so quite profitably. Monies and properties were recovered from around the globe, and eventually payments were made to many persons and entities. The largest recipient was the US government for its airlifting of the bodies. The largest single individual recipient was Jackie Speier who survived her horrifying injuries, and still carries two bullets to this day.

After the final payment of monies recovered, there still remained assets and monies which belonged to Temple members but which were not collected by Mr. Fabian or were not considered monies or properties of the Peoples Temple. The State of California maintains these assets in trust and the rightful owner may claim them. An excellent source detailing with particularity properties owned by former PT members is here on this website. Other persons may have been contacted by various private companies to notify them that the State is holding old bank accounts or deposits with utility companies. I was contacted some time ago by surviving members and began the arduous task of recovering properties left by the demised Temple members.

As I tell anyone who contacts me, it is no easy task to prove that one is the rightful owner of the assets. If one wishes to recover these assets, please be quite patient and be prepared to produce proof positive that the individual owner is deceased.

This has proven to be difficult in some cases, since many of the Jonestown dead were not issued death certificates. If one does have proof of the person being deceased, through official death certificates or alternatively documents from State Department generated through the investigation into the deaths and assassination of Representative Leo Ryan, etc., they submit the proof along with the downloadable application to recover and be prepared to offer follow up documentation. It is a long and arduous task, but many feel worth the time and trouble or for the mere principle of the matter.

The Law Offices of Roger Stacy helps survivors recover monies or properties pro-bono if the recipient intends to donate the monies to charities, such as the memorial San Francisco Food Bank, a wonderful endeavor encouraged by survivor Tim Carter. If you wish to receive assistance in recovering monies from former Temple members, which you believe you are the proper legal beneficiary, please feel free to contact us at rogerstacy@hotmail.com.

(Roger Stacy is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. His complete collection of writings for the site may be found here. He may be reached at rogerstacy@hotmail.com.)

Last modified on March 6th, 2014.
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