I met Charles (Chuck) at Los Angeles International Airport around 1985 when he alleged to work for American airlines. For the most part I only associated with Charles while I was at work. I worked for the city of Los Angeles Department of airports as a PO.
Charles came from a Catholic background and grew up in the Hancock Park area. I recall his father abruptly passing away from a heart attack in the mid 1980’s. His mother passed away around in the early 2000’s. Charles got married in the mid 1980’s to Marilynn J. West who became Marilynn J. Sebesta. He met Marilynn who I believe was in the travel business when we were at the Hilton Hotel near LAX on a airport security side job. Not too much later Marilynn became pregnant which caused some issues with Charles because the relationship seemed to always have issues. Charles new son was Austin Sebesta and I was told by Charles that his son had Autism. I had heard Charles had an older sister who lived in the Midwest but did not have much contact with her.
Charles had a definite devious side which had a negative affect on me. There were many signs which included not always being truthful. After I left the city position around 1988 and went on to work for myself. Around 2001 Charles approached me about working as facilities managers for the Fifth Church of Scientist on Hollywood and La Brea. We agreed to split the salary and work which worked well for me having other work at the same time. We only worked on Wednesdays and Sundays when they had services opening and closing the church. Plus some maintenance work to keep the 1950’s style dome church in order.
This is when the really negative and dishonest events started to happen at the church. From what Charles told me he got this idea that if he convinced the church members that he believed he could become a member of the congregation and eventually get on the board. The Fifth Church of Scientist was slowly shrinking in membership since we first got hired because most of the members were older. Charles came from a Catholic background and grew up in the Hancock Park area. I recall his father abruptly passing away from a heart attack in the mid 1980’s. His mother passed away around in the early 2000’s.
Charles told me that he left his airline job to start his own Airline business which he later claimed to sell and buy a house in Lake Oswego Oregon where he had started a new life with Marilynn who was from the area.
The church members being all for the most part older than us treated us like family and referred to us as “the boys”. There were two newer younger women when we got hired who were deeply involved in the church who we suspected were involved in fleecing Church of Scientists churches and moving from one church to the other. What we saw was they would become members and get on the board then suggest ways to promote membership. So what they convinced the board and congregation was to open a “Reading Room” on Hollywood Blvd. Reading rooms are common Church of Scientist’s and the goal was to offer members and promote the church by offering places to gain access to Mary Eddy Baker material and the bible. Sort of a library for the religious. The way the two women made money off the church was in the process of building and contracting to build the Reading room from a leased location on the Blvd. It was not just a empty space they filled with tables and chairs but a refined office style library with plush refinement, I would bet upwards of a $100k was spent to set it all up.
One of these women would get on the board and feed work to her other friend who would contract the work. Once the work was done and there was no more construction work to convince the members to do they moved to another church to do the same. I think this is where Charles got the idea of how to feed or profit off the church. He saw how easy it was to do and how much money the church had.
Charles is definitely the charmer and manipulator and after knowing him for over 20 years I noticed a common trait of dishonest and lying. I think the most successful psychopaths are charmers, manipulators and con-artists. They look for weakness and take advantage of people.
Charles confided in me and told me about his plan to join the Church, get on the board and become a full pledged member where he had more control. Seeing that the Church was slowly losing members of the congregation he felt one day the church would be closed and sold. This had happened to other Church of Scientist location such as the one in West Hollywood. What happens when a church closes is the members move to the next closest location so the Hollywood branch absorbed the members from the West Hollywood location.
Seeing the writing on the wall that the Hollywood branch may also close Charles had this idea from what he understood that when the church sells the members split the proceeds. So Charles’s goal at the time was to get in when he could to get a piece of that sale.
I knew the sale of the church meant I would lose my job so I was not fond of the idea of selling the location but being just an employee there was nothing I could do.
There were definite signs of something not right after Charles separated from his wife and had to find his own place to live. Charles always pushed this claim he was a “professional Consultant” with world wide clients. He gave this story about having these wealthy Japanese clients he worked for. He said he had leased for them a furnished apartment near Barham and Cahuenga Blvd. near Universal Studios. I was never inside this so called apartment but recall being with Charles in the area so he may well have been living there. Then there were a number of new cars he appeared with over the years. Toyota Prius, Ford Lincoln luxury sedan, Hummer 3 and a black Suburban and Volkswagen SUV. I was under the impression he leased these vehicles. During and after the LAX days the last car I recall him owning was a Cherokee SUV. When I first met him he drove a small pick up style while Chrysler vehicle, I think at the time he was still living at home in Hancock Park.
So it was the cars during his years at the church after 2005 that were odd and constantly changed plus the living location at the Barham apartments. Before that he was always at Park La Brea and I believe his wife lived on Burnside.
I worked on computers at the church as well as installing the closed circuit security cameras so I spent a good deal of time in the office on the computers. By chance I got to see some of the book keeping programs with ledgers. I became more interested in the banking part when my check was delayed as a result of Charles doing the finances and could not understand why for years I got my check on time and now that Charles was involved they were often delayed.
The other big sign was when I was away for several weeks I came back and found my pay check had been cashed by Charles. That never made sense why would he forge my name and cash my check. He made the excuse that he had money problems and needed the funds. I had no problem but it came to the point after many weeks of not getting the money back where I told him I was going to the police if I did not get my money back. That got my money back but I think caused a rift in our relationship.
The other big sign was how Charles would always play people against each other which I feel is a huge psychopath trait. He would say “this church member does not like you” as if to turn them against me or me against them. He constantly used his tactic. He also played people, it was never his fault always another member or person. When he wanted you in good standing he would get you more work assignments from the church as a board member. Then he would take them away and blame it on another church member saying they were given that work so be angry at them they cheated you out of that money.
So back to the office and being on the computer and viewing the ledgers, I saw these big payments going to insurance companies, and environmental work which was something I could not do. (asbestos removal). I had thought I can see Charles faking a company like an insurance company and having the church pay him instead of a real insurance company. Another angle would be tell the church board they need $100k in asbestos removal and hire a company to do it for $10k and pocket the $90k extra charge. I had this gut feeling this was going on but did not want to call out Charles and if I told a church member and I was wrong I would create problems for myself.
The church finally sold around 2008 and from what Charles shared it sold for 14-20 million to a developer who had an office on the south east corner across the street from the church. The deal is the members could still use the church for several months after the sale until they located a new location and moved in. That new location was 5850 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036
This location is a strip mall on the corner, I never was inside this location nor part of what went on there. Charles quickly got rid of me and told me that Hyme and handyman who was involved with a board member named Murriel Berglund wanted him to perform the facility management position. Plus the church did not have the financial resources to keep me. I should have checked with the church members myself but trusted in what Charles told me.
To make thing more odd Charles then began this scheme to appear he was now unemployed and broke. After all the church was sold and everything was to be moved to the new location. He said he was cleaning cruise ships in San Pedro and living in skid row conditions in a run down ghetto single unit apartment. He never directly asked but I assume was fishing for info and responses from me by claiming to be broke and not having money or a place to live. I was also out of work and barely hanging on. A the time I also got sucked into a legal game with my psychopath sister which drained all my finances and put me in debt. So I was in no position to help and lived 1 hour north of Los Angeles.
That seemed to be the end of our twenty year so called friendship. There was one event when I tried to contact Charles when I needed to transfer a car I got from him when his mother passed away. I got a document to make the change by email but no other info or contact. I assumed not much changed and he was still rebuilding his life after losing the church.
So we move forward 2021 where I’m researching legal and property documents and by chance I enter Charles info to see if he’s in the Los Angeles Public record system. Boom, he sure is and I see some legal suit between Sebesta and the Fifth Church. What is this? I google his name and find upwards of a hundred news stories where Charles T. Sebesta board member embezzled over 12 million dollars. Plus another case for $800k
This is when I realized most of what Charles had told me over the years was all lies. It was all a con job and scam to quietly get me out of the way for him to profit off the church. He knew I had some some info about his past and what he was capable of so I’m sure he felt it better to remove me from the picture.
Calendar of Events (15 years)
2001 Begins working for the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist Hollywood Blvd & Labrea
2005 -2016 Worked with the congregation and was on the boar
2017/01/25 Complaint Filed Filed by Fifth Church of Christ Scientist of (Plaintiff)
Case Number: BC648007
FIFTH CHURCH OF CHRIST SCIENTIST OF LA VS CHARLES T SEBESTA
Filing Date: 01/25/2017
Case Type: Fraud (no contract) (General Jurisdiction)
Status: Default Judgment By Court – Before Trial 08/16/2018
The Scam and what may have happened?
1. Pay attention to the dates and Company names.
2. Note the address of these businesses which is the same as the church Reading Room (new location)
Finding this Fictitious Name records and the dates
2002-02-04 INDUSTRIAL ELECTRIC COMPANY
Notice above the LA strip mall
A. Christian Science Reading Room (Fifth location after 2008 Church)
B. PO Box Business where Charles T. Sebesta rented a PO box #110
C. This address was also used by Charles T. Sebesta without a Box number
FedEx Authorized Ship Center
5850 W 3rd St E
Los Angeles, CA 90036
They only different by “Lettered unit number” or as Charles did he left out the unit number
(6) counts of wire fraud
(5) counts of bank fraud
(2) counts of aggravated identity theft
- Used phony companies to siphon cash from church
- Posed as real estate developer to hide crimes
Where is Charles T. Sebesta Now?
I found Charles T. Sebesta Age 55 Caucasian Male who is an inmate in downtown Los Angeles
MDC Administrative Security Metropolitan Detention Center
535 N ALAMEDA STREET
LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
Search for his name HERE
Charles T Sebesta DOB January 02, 1965
Christine L. Howe DOB March 28, 1966 (Girl Friend)
Dorothy O. Sebesta November 30, 1927 (Mother)
339 S Curson Ave, Los Angeles, CA (Mother’s address)
5850 W 3rd St E Los Angeles, CA 90036 Suite #110 (07/16/2018) address for CA Tax Lien
404 S. Orange Grove Avenue Los Angeles, CA (Charles T. Sebesta Previous address) until 10/29/2013
Charles Thomas Sebesta Case Summary
BC 648007 Case Summary – Online Services LA Court
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A former leader of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist in Los Angeles, who is under indictment for allegedly siphoning off more than $11.4 million from the organization, was ordered Wednesday to remain behind bars pending trial unless he can come up with an offer of bond.
At a brief detention hearing in Los Angeles federal court, Charles Thomas Sebesta did not challenge a prosecutor’s request that he be kept in custody on grounds that he might flee to avoid trial and that he is a danger to the community.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gail J. Standish pointed out that if Sebesta can offer the court potential sureties, a further detention hearing would be scheduled.
Sebesta, 54, is suspected of spending the church’s money on personal expenses, including the purchase of a house and a membership to Club 33 — an exclusive members-only Disneyland dining club. He was charged Monday with six counts of wire fraud, five counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Sebesta stole a total of $11,438,213 from church assets and $34,032 from a private high school that also employed him.
Sebesta was hired in 2001 as the church’s facilities manager. The indictment states that in 2005, the Huntington Beach man joined the church and served as its local chairman, controlling the church’s financial assets and operations. From 2005 to 2016, he allegedly directed the church to make payments to fake companies’ bank accounts that he had opened, the indictment states.
Sebesta pleaded not guilty Monday and a trial was set for Oct. 22. At the detention hearing, his attorney is expected to argue for release on bond pending trial.
Prosecutors allege that Sebesta falsely recorded the thefts in church records as donations, as well as environmental remediation and other payments to fictitious companies which Sebesta named so they appeared legitimate.
If convicted of all charges, Sebesta would face decades in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.