By DENNIS MAGEE, firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Despite eviction proceedings earlier this year in Buchanan County, despite pending bankruptcies in two states and despite seven criminal charges pending in Illinois, Ryan St. Anne Scott is again working to establish an alleged religious community.
This time, he is organizing in Missouri. Scott, also known as Randell Stocks and Ryan Patrich Scott Gevelinger, incorporated a “religious nonprofit” Aug. 20, according to public records.
As in the past, he gave it a Latin name, in fact the same one used in Iowa: Congregatio Ordinis Sancti Bendicti. And as in the past, Scott acted without authority of the Roman Catholic Church, according to church officials.
“The corporation is additionally organized exclusively for charitable, educational, religious or scientific purposes … in union with the Holy Rule of St. Benedict … ,” according to articles of incorporation.
Scott did not respond to email messages seeking his comments.
Scott’s similar ventures near Independence and in Galesburg, Ill., failed amid controversy and legal actions. Scott and his small band of followers in January abandoned the former Buchanan County home before being forced out by the county attorney’s office. At issue was Scott’s failure to insure the property.
Federal bankruptcy officials subsequently auctioned off Scott’s belongings, including hundreds of religious items and 19 llamas.
Law enforcement officials in Knox County in Illinois subsequently charged Scott with three counts of financial abuse of an elderly person, three counts of theft and one count of deceptive practices. Each charge is a felony offense in Illinois. Trial is scheduled in November.
“He is looking for property in Missouri,” according to a person familiar with a real estate listing.
The 4,000-square-foot building on about two acres once served as a place of worship for the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to the source. The two-story structure in Chilhowee, Mo., was later converted into a residence with two separate living areas.
“When he came to look at it he was in a priest’s robe,” according to the source. Another man with Scott was similarly attired.
Scott made a written offer of $85,000 but hoped for monthly installments.
“They wanted to make tiny payments, like $300 a month,” according to the source.
The owners, however, are asking for $115,000 and were not interested in such a deal, the person said.
In his letter, Scott explained why a payment plan was necessary.
“He said giving was down because of the economy. That’s why they would be struggling to come up with the money,” according to the source.
“He actually mentioned that he would be covering the property with insurance,” the person added.
Scott incorporated in Missouri using familiar names. As in Iowa, his board of directors includes long-time associates Barry Rodgers and Thomas Bertke. Rodgers is also known as Brother Gregory Joseph, and Bertke is also known as Brother Isaac.
Rodgers and Bertke are also listed as directors on Scott’s failed venture in Iowa. Rodgers was a director on Scott’s failed ventures in Illinois, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Most recently in Missouri, Scott also added “Sr. Monica (Patricia) Baldridge, OSB, obl.” as a corporate director. The initials and abbreviation suggest Baldridge is an “oblate” associated with a Benedictine community and that she is committed to living life in accordance with St. Benedict’s precepts.
Articles of incorporation indicate each of Scott’s initial board members lives at 2518 Lemay Ferry Road, suite No. 355, in St. Louis. However, the address is actually mailbox No. 355 at The UPS Store in a strip mall.
Scott previously supplied the mailbox to federal officials handling his bankruptcy cases and later to prosecutor Erik Gibson in Illinois. Gibson, in fact, earlier this year attempted to revoke Scott’s bail because he was not residing in Illinois.
Baldridge and her elderly husband, Robert, were on their farm in rural Vinton when Scott abandoned the former Buchanan County home. And in fact, they sheltered Roseanne Gevelinger for an extended period.
Gevelinger, an elderly woman and one of Scott’s ardent followers, adopted the self-anointed monk when both lived in Illinois, according to Scott’s testimony under oath. Scott at the time would have been at least 60 years old.
Robert Baldridge was hospitalized recently. Patricia Baldridge remains in Benton County, not Missouri as Scott claims, according to a person familiar with the couple.
“She does not live there,” according to the source. “He’s still in touch with her, and he is keeping her up to date on what’s going on.”
Patricia Baldridge declined comment Thursday.
Stacie Temple, communications director with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, said corporations in her state are required to submit a physical address. Her agency’s responsibilities, however, primarily end after accepting and filing related documents, such as articles of incorporation.
Confirming the veracity of the information is outside her office’s jurisdiction, Temple said.
“That would have to be something you would have to bring up to our attorney general’s office perhaps,” she added. “We really don’t get into investigating the board members or anything like that.”
Scott’s previous felony conviction in Wisconsin and pending criminal charges in Illinois have no bearing on his ability to incorporate a business in Missouri, according to Temple. She did, however, describe those issues as “valid concerns.’
Temple noted Scott has until August 2013 to officially register his board of directors. She said her agency would, however, send Scott a letter now asking for a physical address.
Scott lost a civil judgment in Illinois to a former follower, Sheila Anderson. The total was about $161,000.
He subsequently filed a corporate bankruptcy petition in Illinois in December and followed with a personal bankruptcy a few days later in Iowa. Federal Judge Paul Kilburg in April ruled Scott’s corporation was a fraud.
“The court finds that the Congregation of the Order of Saint Benedict is a sham and is the alter ego of the debtor Ryan Patrick Scott … ,” Kilburg wrote.
Officials ultimately seized Scott’s property, including thousands of dollars in several bank accounts. Nevertheless, information available on Ebay reveals Scott this year spent at least $600 in August alone based on vendors’ feedback.
Even as Scott’s financial house seemed to collapse, sellers on Ebay who dealt with the alleged monk over the past 12 months gave unanimous, positive feedback.
“GREAT TO DEAL WITH AAA+++,” one vendor wrote. “Lightning fast payment, thank you very much! 5 Gold Stars,” another said.
Similar glowing reviews are available from 90 other sellers.
Most purchases were for items of a religious nature, including priest’s robes, altar cloths, bells, candle holders and many, many books. One of the more expensive was a gold-plated paten and chalice with leather case. Scott paid $299.99 in July for the set, according to Ebay.
This month, he paid $74.99 for an instructional liturgical Latin course with 13 cassettes and book.
Scott in August reversed roles, offering to sell a single item: his “traveling man-cave.” According to Ebay, Scott’s 1997 Ford F-350 Super Duty truck, which he converted into well-appointed camper, attracted five bids. The highest was $5,350.
The offer was below the reserve price, and the Scott’s man-cave did not sell.
Renee Hanrahan, a federal bankruptcy trustee, confirmed the vehicle belonged to Scott’s group in Iowa.
“There were a couple of vehicles registered to them that I abandoned, so I have no interest in them,” she said. “If we abandon it, it becomes no longer property of the estate, so it becomes no longer our responsibility.”
Letting go of a claim on the truck, Hanrahan added, removes the bankruptcy estate’s liability if the vehicle should be involved in an accident. She also explained that as her bankruptcy case in Iowa winds down, Scott is free to pursue his economic interests.
“New money is new to him and it’s his without the bankruptcy having any claim to it. So if he raises additional funds or starts a new business, that’s up to him,” Hanrahan said.
“The public doesn’t understand that.”