Rick Ross has a long-term criminal record. The following is by no means a complete picture, and investigation of his criminal activities continues.
On December 22, 1974, Rick Ross and Jeffrey Ward Nuzum attempted to commit a burglary by kicking in the door to a building in Phoenix. They were caught in the act by the Phoenix police and were arrested. Ross was 22 years old at the time and was employed as a bill collector for the American Credit Bureau. He plead guilty to a charge of Conspiracy and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on probation for a period of one year.
On July 23, 1975, at 11:00 p.m., Rick Ross robbed Kay-Bee Enterprises, a jewelry store located in the Broadway department store at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, Arizona. Ross made off with approximately $50,000 worth of diamonds and “precious paraphernalia” by presenting the clerk at the store with a note demanding the diamonds be placed in a box or Ross would detonate a bomb that he had brought into the store with him. The clerk, Daniel Schroeder, told police that he had followed the robber’s instructions and that while the jewelry was valued at $50,000, its retail value was approximately $100,000.
It was later discovered that Ross and Schroeder together had in fact set up the robbery and that they had later split the stolen property. Ross and Schroeder both confessed to the crime after police overheard their conversations in which they bragged about having pulled off the heist.
Ross eventually confessed to the police that he had been discussing this crime with Schroeder for three months prior to the robbery and that during this time, he had associated with many criminals. Ross admitted that previous to the jewelry store robbery, he had bought and used stolen credit cards and had also stolen furniture and appliances from model homes.
Ross and Schroeder were arrested and charged with the crime of Grand Theft by Embezzlement for the jewelry store heist.
Ross’ probation from his previous arrest was revoked on July 29, 1975, for failing to conduct himself as a law-abiding citizen. Ross admitted to this violation of his probation in open court on November 17, 1975. His probation was then extended to four years.
Reports attached to court documents relating to the incident show that Ross was described as an individual who has sociopathic inclinations and cannot see that what he does is socially unacceptable and dangerous.
In a plea agreement, on April 2, 1976, Ross was found guilty of Conspiracy, 2nd Degree, to Commit Grand Theft, a felony, and was sentenced to four years probation and a fine of $1,100.
In a civil matter, on May 23, 1979 a suit was filed by Jack Grodzinsky accusing Rick Ross of having ripped him off based on an agreement that Ross would repair two cars that Grodzinsky paid for. The Court ruled against Ross and ordered him to pay Grodzinsky $8,464.65, including his legal fees. Ross presumably paid this off from his earnings in the deprogramming business.
Also in 1979, another lawsuit was filed against Ross, this one for failure to repay a loan to his own aunt for $4,000. Ross had borrowed the money from his relatives, David and Emma Katz, on November 10, 1977, and when their attempts to collect on the loan failed, they filed suit.
In the 1980s, Ross became involved in a new scheme to make money. He became involved with a network of criminal deprogrammers called the Cult Awareness Network. In a letter from Rick Ross to the Cult Awareness Network executive director, Priscilla Coates, dated July 30, 1987, Ross complained about not getting deprogramming referrals from CAN and that
“some parents are so cheap they prefer to let their kids ‘bang the bible’ than pay.”
This letter clearly shows that Ross was using CAN to drum up business for his personal benefit, it also shows his demeaning contempt for Christians.
In another letter from Ross to Coates, dated April 28, 1988, Ross describes his strategy to manipulate the media to promote his business as a deprogrammer. He told Coates about his idea to get on television as someone that:
“had deprogrammed fundamentalist Christians” in order to “stimulate some [deprogramming] cases in California.”
Rick Ross’ criminal activity extends to the violent kidnapping of Christians. One particular kidnapping incident occurred on January 18, 1991. Jason Scott, an 18 year-old member of a Pentecostal Church in Bellevue, Washington, drove to his family home in Bellevue. At the front door, Jason was jumped by three men hired by Ross who wrestled him to the ground and dragged him inside. The three men were Mark Workman, Chuck Simpson, and Clark Rotroff.
Jason’s mother, Kathy Tonkin, who was also in the house, came outside and told witnesses watching the incident that Jason was going to be okay and that he was going to be taken out of a cult.
Chuck Simpson placed handcuffs on Jason, and the men dragged him down the stairs on his back, into the downstairs living room and into a van. The men, including Rick Ross, climbed into the van, where Jason was pinned face down by Clark’s knee in his back and a nylon strap placed around his ankles. Clark, who told Jason to “stop praying and shut up”, fastened a strip of two-inch duct tape over Jason’s mouth. Jason was not allowed to look out of the van windows to see where he was being taken.
The kidnappers informed Jason that his church was a cult. Jason asked them if they were going to force him to not go back to his church by making him change his mind. Rick Ross answered “yes.” The kidnappers proceeded to ridicule Jason’s religious beliefs. The next morning, the kidnapper’s brainwashing procedure began again. Ross ignored Jason’s request to have his rights read to him by the police, saying that if Jason did not cooperate, he would be handcuffed to the bed frame.
On January 22, Jason learned that he was at Ocean Shores, Washington. When Jason broke into tears at one point in the barrage by his captors, the kidnappers assumed that they had succeeded in “breaking” his faith in his religion.
On January 23, Jason observed his mother on the phone scheduling plane tickets for Jason to go to Wellspring “Rehabilitation Center” in Ohio and for the kidnappers to return to Phoenix. Wellspring has been called “a concentration camp for Christians.” It is run by psychologist Paul Martin who receives individuals and keeps them there until their faith is “broken.”
On January 23, the kidnappers took Jason to eat at the Home Port Restaurant to celebrate Jason’s “deprogramming” from the Pentecostal Church. Jason fled across the street and called the police. A policeman arrived, took Jason’s story, and put him in the back of his jeep. This is described in detail in the police report made by Jason Scott and in a separate report written by Jason about the incident, entitled, “Testimony of Jason Scott”.
Mark Workman and Chuck Simpson were arrested that day. Rick Ross once again evaded criminal charges but he was the recipient of a civil suit for the attempted deprogramming.
In 1994, Scott filed a civil lawsuit against Ross (and including the Cult Awareness Network) for the “involuntary deprogramming” for Conspiracy to violate his civil rights as well as Outrage and Negligence.
A jury found Ross and the other defendants liable for civil rights violations and negligence. The victim, Jason Scott, was awarded $875,000 in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages. An additional award of $1 million in punitive damages was levied against the Cult Awareness Network. CAN lost their appeals and later filed bankruptcy and closed down its operation.
Instead of honoring the court judgments resulting from his criminal behavior in the Jason Scott case, Ross filed for bankruptcy. This even included disposing of a $17,500 debt to his own elderly mother.
Ross appears to be without remorse for his acts of kidnapping and involuntary imprisonment, which are crimes as well as human rights violation. In his own words, Ross admits to the illegal kidnapping at least 12 adults since the “wrongdoing” he engaged in in his twenties.
In an August 2003 news article, Ross answered allegations of his lack of credibility due to his previous convictions, including conspiracy to commit grand theft for embezzlement of property from a jewelry company, by stating:
“I regret what I did in my youth. I admitted my wrongdoing and restored everything to those who lost something.”
Ross omitted mention of the Jason Scott kidnapping and two dozen other kidnappings for which charges or suits were not filed.
On his web site, Ross justifies his actions and uses it as part of his sales pitch:
“Have you ever done involuntary deprogramming?”"Yes. I have personally been involved in about two dozen involuntary cases. However, about half of those cases involved minors under the direct supervision of their custodial parent. And as Steve Hassan, who also once engaged in such involuntary efforts recognized, “Forcible intervention [was only used] as a last resort if all other attempts fail[ed].” – Rick Ross
In a notable example of Ross’ doublespeak, he redefines defense of the constitutional right to individual liberty as “harassment of professionals” involved in kidnapping:
“If you are sympathetic to the families that do involuntary interventions, why don’t you continue to do such work?”
“It is no longer possible for me–because as one cult intervention professional observed, ‘the truth is that [involuntary] deprogramming is extremely risky in legal terms’. Specifically, destructive cults, groups and leaders today often maintain teams of lawyers to harass professionals involved in such work. I cannot afford the expense and time to fight these efforts.” – Rick Ross
On August 6, 2003, NXIVM Corp. filed a multi-million dollar suit against Ross for trademark infringement in connection with Ross’ complicity in violating the group’s trademarks.