This resource was created as a public service for those wanting to know more about the Shriners' secret sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters. The intention is to provide more information in advance of the April 29 UTMB v Shriners hearing in Galveston, Texas and the May 6 and 7 sentencings of those two Jesters caught by the FBI in a human trafficking sting out of Buffalo, NY.
The buzz at this year's Shriner Fourth of July convention is going to be how their endowment lost $3 billion in less than a year, on top of losing $1 million a day since 2001, as everyone was blindsided by the news that the joint boards are considering closing six of their hospitals "because of the economy."
If anyone asks Shriner leaders "Where did all the money go?" they will be hushed up or threatened or told to leave or brought up on "charges" before an internal kangaroo court or sued for defamation or otherwise retaliated against.
There is a bigger problem, however, that the Shriners should address. It is one that leaders will never acknowledge and one that members will never be allowed to discuss and that is the Shriners secret sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters and their prostitution/sex crime scandals.
Though the Jesters are holding their annual meeting at the same time as the Shriners convention in San Antonio, they will be persona non grata and swept under the rug.
Because the majority those who control the Shriners joint boards are also Jesters. Why would they implicate themselves and invite more scrutiny when the media is already asking about hospital closures? What if anyone factored mismanagement, corruption and a lack of ethics into the "blame the economy" equation to hypothesize a corporate model that either allowed or facilitated these staggering losses?
So what does the Shriner/Jester family tree look like?
The Shriners and the Royal Order of Jesters are appendant groups of Freemasonry. One must first be a Master Mason before being able to join sub-groups like the Scottish Rite, Knights Templar and the Shriners. However, one must first be an invited Shriner before joining the Royal Order of Jesters, a self-described "luxury organization for only those who can qualify and who can afford it."
There are about 23,500 Jesters organized into "courts" that correspond to the 191 Shriner temples located across North America.
Below is a list of Jester related articles, beginning with "Jesters Exposed," the first article ever written about the ROJ.
It was published on February 15, 2008 and was mostly about nonprofit tax technicalities and how the nonprofit group's leaders ordered that the internet be scrubbed of ROJ information to "minimize to the extent possible, our public exposure or its access to Jesters information" because it had been alleged that their weekend meetings were nothing more than prostitution parties where they drank and played high stakes poker at taxpayer expense.
A few days after that, I learned about how 19 Jesters were named on a witness list for the defense in a defamation action between two fishing tour operators who took groups to fish the Amazon in Brazil. "'Jesters' To Testify about Illegal Drugs, Child Prostitution?" was published about three weeks later, on March 6, 2008, and reported how these Jesters were expected to testify about "their first hand knowledge of prostitution, minor prostitution, use of illegal drugs and/or the alleged illegal entry of one of the tour operators into Indian reservations by the plaintiff and his customers."
Three days later, on March 9, 2008, The Buffalo News reported "Former Judge Tills resigns amid FBI prostitution investigation."
Reporters Dan Herbeck and Aaron Besecker wrote:
"A retired State Supreme Court justice resigned his post as a hearing officer as federal agents investigate his alleged role in taking a local massage parlor worker across state lines for purposes of prostitution. FBI and U.S. Border Patrol agents are investigating allegations that retired Judge Ronald H. Tills, his former law clerk and a retired police captain took the female massage parlor employee in a motor home to a gathering of members of a nationwide group called the Royal Order of Jesters."
Turns out the judge, his law clerk and the retired police captain got caught in a FBI human trafficking sting and pleaded guilty to taking, or conspiring to take, illegal alien prostitutes to Jester parties in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida as well as a national meeting held in Ontario, Canada. The law clerk was sentenced last December to four months home confinement, fined $5,000, ordered to 250 hours of community service and put on two years probation.
The former judge and retired police captain are scheduled to be sentenced May 6 and 7 for violating the Mann Act.
Below is a chronological list of Jester articles, with links to those documents being described including Jester tax returns that show how they spent nearly $600,000 on one of their weekend parties, a revised constitution that shows the interdependence between the Shriners and Jesters, a list of meetings, ceremonies like "The Book of the Play," depositions and plea agreements.
"Jesters Exposed" Fri Feb 15, 2008 9:35 PM EST
This is the first article ever written about the Shriner secret sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters or ROJ. It reports:
• ROJ 2005 tax returns AKA the 990s show that the Jesters fraternal brought in over $1.3 million dollars with assets totaling over $1.8 million dollars.
• ROJ 2005 tax returns show that Jesters charitable brought in over $420,000 with assets totaling $835,000, for a combined worth of about $2.65 million dollars and that charitable contributions went toward building their new $1.2 million 5,000 square foot HQ/museum in Indianapolis, Indiana.
• In 2006, ROJ executive director Alex Rogers, who is also an attorney and past potentate, submitted an application for property tax exemption to the Marion County Assessor that was initially denied because tax authorities were not convinced that the Jesters qualified as a charity, based on the museum claims, under Indiana law.
• Rogers appealed the decision and convinced the Indiana Tax Assessment Board of Appeals that the Jesters are an appendant body of Masonry. Both parties entered into a Settlement Agreement in January, 2007 that stipulated a 100% fraternal tax exemption for the year 2005, otherwise the Jesters would have had to cough up about $12,000 in property taxes.
• Two ROJ executive directors appear to be practicing law out of Jester HQ in Indiana and Texas. IRS nonprofit laws state that no one shall benefit personally from a nonprofit group.
• “Royal Stage Manager” Dennis Schueler sent a letter to Jester webmaster Frank Baillie, informing him that the Jesters had “directed the abolition of all Jester-related bulletin boards and internet sites. The primary reason behind such action was the desire of the Board to minimize to the extent possible, our public exposure or its access to Jesters information.”
• ROJ functions have always been listed on the Imperial Council’s annual session agenda.
• Shriners’ corporate communications director, Alicia Aargiz-Lyons failed to respond to phone messages and emailed questions about the Royal Order of Jesters.
"Jesters" To Testify about Illegal Drugs, Child Prostitution?
Thu Mar 6, 2008 1:35 PM EST
This article is about how 19 Jesters were named on a witness list for the defense in a federal defamation lawsuit and associated court documents. It reports:
• Federal court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division regarding a defamation lawsuit between two fishing tour operators, Richard Schair and Phillip Marsteller, includes a defense witness list that names 19 witnesses who are members of the ROJ and are expected to testify about fishing trips to Brazil and “their first hand knowledge of prostitution, minor prostitution, use of illegal drugs and/or entry into Indian reservations by Schair (plaintiff) and/or his customers.”
• The ROJ was investigated by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas in 2005 after they received a complaint alleging Jester parties revolved around sex with prostitutes, illegal gambling and alcohol. It ended with no “prosecutions.”
• The Wichita Jester Court #24 reported to the IRS that they spent $122,102 in 2006 for the exempt purpose of “recreation, entertainment and companionship.”
• The Long Beach Jester Court #161 reported to the IRS that they spent $82,543 in 2006 as “benefits paid to members.”
• Five girls gave statements to Brazilian federal police officers last year as they were investigating “minor Indian and other girls living near the rivers in the region of the Municipality of Autazes/AM who became victims of sexual exploitation by North American foreign tourists.”
• These depositions described how the girls were, at the time of the alleged minor prostitution, aged 13, 14, 16.
• One of the 16 year olds stated that her 14 year old sister was also recruited.
• All the girls state they were lured onto the fishing boat by someone named "Richard."
• These depositions describe the crime otherwise known as “child sex tourism.”
Judge Central Figure in FBI Probe, the S.O.B.I.B. and the Jesters' Half Million Dollar Weekend Parties
Sat Apr 12, 2008 1:30 PM PDT
This article describes how Shriner/Jester and former New York Supreme Court Judge Tills has become the focus of the FBI’s investigation, exposes a clandestine Jester sub-group called the S.O.B.I.B. and details shocking data found on Jester tax returns. It reports:
• Tills is listed as a member of an inside Jesters group called the "S.O.B.I.B." The acronym allegedly stands for something like "Secret Order of Brother/s in Blood."
• Ralph Semb, chairman of the board of trustees for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, is both a Jester and a member of the S.O.B.I.B.
• The International Royal Order of Jesters, Inc. and the National Court of the Royal Order of Jesters fail to list the S.O.B.I.B. on line 80b of their 2003, 2004 and 2005 tax returns. Line 80a asks "Is the organization related (other than by association with a statewide or nationwide organization) through common membership, governing bodies, trustees, officers, etc., to any other exempt or non exempt organizations?" Line 80b asks “If 'Yes,' enter the name of the organization."
• The Jesters further fail to correctly answer questions about their exempt purpose.
• Tax returns report that in 2003, the Jesters' weekend ritual “The Book of the Play” (BOP) expenses were $226,268, with income of $400,548. In 2004, they spent $545,806 on the BOP, with income of $584,661. In 2005, they spent $307,345 with income of $454,783.
• Three years of ROJ tax returns report that director's expense as $31,116, $24,778 and $31,865 respectively, though these expenses are not reported in Part II.
• Three years of ROJ tax returns list $0 for Program Services.
• Three years of ROJ tax returns report gross receipts of $1,208,146, $1,394,551 and $1,310, 539.
• A Thursday, December 20, 2007 request for the ROJ 2006 990 and Form 1023 remains unanswered. (The Form 1023 is a group's application for tax exempt status. IRS regulations state that the organization must provide the requested document/s within 30 days from the date it received the request.)
Brazilian Fishing Trip Depositions: "Masons" Pictured Having Sex with Teen Prostitutes?
Sun May 25, 2008 3:55 PM PDT
This is the second article requiring an “Adult Warning.” What began as a defamation lawsuit between two fishing tour operators has led to the possibility that “Masons” participated in child sex tourism and minor prostitution. It reports:
· Two fishing guides, previously employed by the plaintiff, were deposed by the Brazilian federal police to describe what they witnessed as part of their same investigation into the international crime of “child sex tourism.”
· These guides spent three days in Miami with attorneys from both sides, interpreters, a videographer and both parties as they testified about what they witnessed in pictures of “Masons” allegedly having sex with teen prostitutes on “Wet-a-Line” fishing boats, some underage.
· Brazilian teens lured into prostitution told fishing tour guides that they had “sex of all kinds” with those on “Wet-A-Line” tours.
· Tour guides described going by fishing boats as the girls engaged in oral sex with the fishermen.
· Tour guides identified groups of American men who went on these tours year after year to party, drink, watch strip contests, have sex and take drugs.
· Tour guides said that girls as young as 9, 13, and 14 were used as prostitutes on the fishing boats.
· Tour guides identified those who returned each year as “Masons.”
· “Masons” were pictured with two underage prostitutes at a party on the fishing boat.
· The “Masons” asked for girls over 13.
Child Sex Tourism: Brazilian Teens Testify About Being Lured into Minor Prostitution for American Tourists
Mon Jun 2, 2008 5:58 PM EDT
This is the third of three articles related to how 19 Jesters were called as to testify for the defense in a federal lawsuit about their alleged firsthand knowledge of minor prostitution while fishing trips to Brazil. It reports:
· Child sex tourism is in the news.
· Five girl’s depositions were taken by the Brazilian Federal Police that allege how same man named
· “Richard” went to the same village every year, luring girls to help him with housekeeping and cooking on his boat.
· Upon arriving at the boat, the girls discover they were to drink whiskey and have sex with the fishermen.
· The girls report that they are victims of sexual abuse perpetuated by a group of North American tourists.
· One 13 year old reported that was left pregnant.
· These Indian families live way below poverty.
· “Richard” failed to pay the girls what was promised.
Jester Confesses to Wife He Organized Prostitutes
Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:10 PM EDT
This is an interview with a wife who discovered that as her husband became more and more involved with the Jesters, he was getting prostitutes to Jester functions. It reports:
· The ROJ is a strictly stag, luxury organization for no purpose other than to “spread mirth.”
· Wives are allowed at only two events a year.
· The husband said that the Jesters have a “pool” of girls.
· Certain Jesters request their favorite girls.
· Each court's director assigns the job of inviting the girls.
· The Jesters have a doctor who checks the girls “papers.”
· Every court has a member who organizes the girls for their BOP.
· The U.S. Attorney's office describes the Royal Order of Jesters as organization that “maintained chapters throughout the United States, including in Western New York, and it was the custom of these chapters to host periodic meetings, usually on weekends, for their members. At most of these meetings, some members of the organization would be tasked to arrange for the presence of women at the meetings, for the specific purpose of utilizing the women to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity with the organization's members in exchange for money."
Judge Tills Pleads Guilty, Admits Coordinating Prostitutes with Jester National Representatives
Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:14 PM EDT
This article is based on a Department of Justice press release that reports “Terrance P. Flynn, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, announced today that RONALD H. TILLS, 73, a former State Supreme Court Judge from Hamburg, New York, pleaded guilty to Information charging him with knowingly transporting a female in interstate commerce with the intent that the female engage in prostitution (Mann Act).” It reports:
• The 9/11 terrorist attack did not deter Judge Tills from getting prostitutes to a weekend Jester party because air traffic was delayed or suspended.
• Judge Tills arranged for the transportation of prostitutes from the Buffalo airport to the Jesters’ national meeting then being held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
• Tills agreed with representatives of the Jesters’ National Court that members of the Buffalo Court #22 would get the women from the Buffalo airport to the hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, where the national Jesters meeting was being held.
• Judge Tills paid one of these prostitutes to engage in sexual acts with him at a massage parlor.
• Tills and Trowbridge knowingly transported a different illegal alien from New York to a Jester meeting in Pennsylvania to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity
• Judge Tills arranged for a woman from Buffalo to attend a Jester party in Florida to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity and be paid for it.
• Judge Tills arranged for several women from New York, Ohio and Texas to attend a Jester meeting in Brantford, Ontario, Canada to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity and be paid for it.
• Judge Tills held high offices in the Masonic Grand Lodge of New York and the Ismailia Shriners.
• ROJ bylaws show that they are closely related to the Shriners, with national events being held together as well as ROJ courts dependent on where Shriner temples are located.
Jester Prostitution Updates, Stebick Sentenced
Sun Dec 7, 2008 7:11 PM EST
This is the last story of the year and the headline sums it up. It reports:
· Michael Stebick, 61 was put on probation for two years, ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and directed to provide 250 hours of community service.
· According to sentencing Judge Skretny, the victim in the case was put up in a hotel by the Jesters, with a sign stating '$70-an-hour' posted outside her room.
· Pictures show Jesters fishing, drinking and cuddling with Brazilian girls.
· John Trowbridge’s sentencing November 4 date was been again rescheduled for May 6, 2009.
· The owner of the “massage parlors,” Len Wah Chong, was sentenced on November 19 to six years in federal prison for enslaving as many as 11 illegal alien prostitutes. She pleaded guilty early last April to "Sex Trafficking of Persons by Force, Fraud and Coercion." She forfeited two properties, $70K in cash and jewelry seized and now must pay $350,000 in restitution to those she kept as sex slaves.
· The Richard W. Schair and Wet-a-Line Tours LLC v Phillip Marsteller and Amazon Tours, Inc. defamation lawsuit was settled out of court on Friday, December, 5.
· Defendant Marsteller was honored on Monday, September 15, 2008 at a ceremony held at the Church Center of the UN. He, on behalf of his Peacock Bass fishing business Amazon Tours, Inc., took a public stand against child sex tourism by signing "The Code" AKA Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. The event was sponsored by ECPAT, which stands for "End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes."
· On Wednesday, December 3, 2008, Imperial Potentate Douglas Maxwell, Chairman of the SHC Board of Trustees Ralph Semb and Corporate Director of Public Relations Alicia Aargiz-Lyons were emailed the following questions "What is your reaction to the latest news articles about those members of the Royal Order of Jesters pleading guilty in Buffalo to violating the Mann Act?” and “Those Jesters allegedly involved with child sex tourism?" To date, no response.
Results: The plaintiff in the defamation lawsuit between two fishing tour operators settled out of court with the defendant.
Tills' Sentencing Rescheduled in Jester Prostitution Case
Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:17 PM PST
This article reports that:
· Judge Tills’ sentencing was rescheduled from January 12, 2009 to May 7, 2009.
· Questions about these matters repeatedly phoned and emailed to the Masonic Grand Lodge of New York remain unanswered.
· On Wednesday, December 3, 2008, Imperial Potentate Douglas Maxwell, Chairman of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Board of Trustees and member of the Royal Order of Jesters, Ralph Semb and Corporate Director of Public Relations Alicia Aargiz-Lyons were asked “What is your reaction to the latest news articles about those members of the Royal Order of Jesters pleading guilty in Buffalo to violating the Mann Act?" To date, all three have failed to respond.
The Shriners & "Management by Mirth"
Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:31 PM PDT
This editorial points out that the majority of those on the Shriners joint boards are also members of the Royal Order of Jesters and reports:
· Eleven out of twelve on the SHC board of trustees are Jesters.
· Nine out of fourteen of those listed on the 2006 fraternal tax return are Jesters.
· By the end of 2008, four key executives had "resigned" because they opposed recontracting with a fundraiser as not being in the hospital's best interests and may have personally benefitted some board members.
· With the hospital's executive vice president, director of corporate development, controller and senior attorney gone, those Jesters in charge were free to run things without much, if any, corporate oversight.
· The corporate model of "Management by Mirth" could prove fatal because it's based on undisclosed conflicts of interest. It's based on deception because the Shriners have hidden this affiliation with the Royal Order of Jesters from the IRS by not listing them as an affiliated group on their tax returns.
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