Law Office Report 10, January 2, 1978

[Editor’s notes: This report was transcribed by Heather Shannon. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.

[This document appears twice in this section, at B-5-a(29) – B-5-a(33), B-5-a(58) – B-5-a(62). The typewritten text for each page will appear first, with any annotations listed afterwards.]

Law Office Report, 10, January 2, 1978                                                        from June

  1. Exie Eleby’s house in Los Angeles (Chaikin should be consulted on this)

Background: In 1976, Exie Eleby and her son John Anderson each owned ½ interest of property located at 860 West 57th Street, L.A. On October 1, 1976 a grant deed was recorded by L.A. Recorder on which John Anderson had signed, notarized by Kay Nelson, in which he conveyed his ½ interest to Exie, making it her sole and separate property. That meant he no longer owned any part of this property. There is a slight discrepancy on this deed – Kay never dated her notarial statement where it says John Anderson appeared before her on such a date; but, John Anderson’s signature on the deed is dated, and McElvane says this is no problem. (ASK CHAIKIN IF THIS IS TRUE?)

In summer 1977 we sold this property to a mr. Joe Wilson and he lives there.

This week we received a copy of the attached letter from attorney Jerome Sarrow saying that he represented John Anderson, that Anderson owned ½ interest of Exie’s property, and that neither Exie nor P.T. ever owned or otherwise was entitled to convey Mr. Anderson’s interest in this property.

After consultation with McElvane and Jean Brown, the attached letter was sent to attorney Sarrow today, copy to Mr. Wilson.

  1. Oreen Armstrong/Poplin

Oreen is trying to get death benefits from social security administration as widow of Earl Poplin. She was never legally married to him, until September 12, 1977 Clara Johnson married them and signed her name on the marriage certificate as minister, of Christian denomination, and recorded the marriage certificate with the L.A. County Recorder’s office. When Earl died, Oreen went to Social Security Administration in L.A. and told them that although Clara had married them in September 1977, she also had married them in October 1972, and that she had never recorded this 1972 marriage certificate with the LA County Recorder and that this marriage certificate and church record of this marriage were destroyed in the S.F. Temple fire in 1973. She told them this because the September 1977 marriage was too close to the death date; she would have had to have been married to him longer in order to claim widows death benefits. The Social Security clerk prepared a SSA form to be signed by Clara which names Peoples Temple as the place where she married them in October 1972 and specifies how the records were destroyed in the fire. Social Security also wants a statement from the S.F. Temple saying that there was a fire in 1973 and that church records were destroyed in it. We do not want to do any of this (1) because Clara is not an ordained minister; because she would have to sign a sworn statement, which if false is punishable under federal and/or state law; (2) because she was not a minister in 1972; (3) because the Social Security form names

B-5-a-(29), B-5-a-(58)


1. Handwritten note following “Background” paragraph, likely written by Eugene Chaikin: “I agree, but Mac [Jim McElvane] can check with the title company.”
2. Handwritten note following item one, also likely written by Eugene Chaikin: “Good. Send cc to [Temple attorney Charles] Garry.”
3. One-word annotation on each page – in heavy marker – at head of item 2. Each reads, “NO”


Law Office Report, #10, January 2, 1978                                                      from June

  1. Oreen Armstrong/Poplin, continued –

Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ on it and this might lead to further inquiry later on. Lorie Efrien says Oreen told her many times she never married Earl so that her SSI check would not be cut down. She married him at the last because she wanted to get the survivors benefits which are permanent and transferable, whereas SSI is not transferable. Oreen came up from L.A. this weekend demanding that we give her a written statement that the church burned down, etc.; she refused to move for 3 hours in her seat after service until we answered this question; McElvane flew in to report on other matters from L.A. and we had him talk to her, explaining that there were legal questions involved and we could not handle it that night right away and that she should go home, to 1029 Geary where she is staying til she flies back to L.A. later this week.

Do you have any suggestions/should we have Clara sign the statement of 1972 marriage/…We wanted to relay this on the radio but found it impossible to translate.

[Handwritten note at end of text: “Hell no! Tell Oreen we will not be a party to cheating the government.” followed by note in different handwriting: “Absolutely NOT.”]

B-5-a-(30), B-5-a-(59)


  1. Two handwritten notes following text. The first, also likely written by Eugene Chaikin: “Hell no! Tell Oreen we will not be a party to cheating the government.” The second, in a different hand: “Absolutely NOT


B-5-a-(31), B-5-a-(60): Letter from attorney Jerome H. Sarrow of the Law Offices of Kranitz, Sarrow & Imerman dated December 20, 1977, to Joe L. Wilson stating that John Anderson is the owner of one-half interest of Exie Eleby’s home and that neither the Peoples Temple or Eleby have ever owned Anderson’s interest.

B-5-a-(32), B-5-a-(61): Letter to John Anderson’s attorney, Jerome H. Sarrow, from June Crym on Peoples Temple letterhead dated January 2, 1978, in response to letter on B-5-a-(60). Crym states that Anderson is mistaken and that he conveyed his interest to his mother Exie Eleby on October 1, 1976.

B-5-a-(33), B-5-a-(62): Continuation of letter on Crym letter. Joe L. Wilson is cc’d.