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FRENCH SCIENTOLOGY OFFICIAL CONVICTED OF FRAUD, HOMICIDE

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The founder and former head of the Church of Scientology in Lyons was convicted of fraud and involuntary homicide Friday in the death of a church member who committed suicide after going heavily into debt to pay the sect for counseling sessions.

A French tribunal sentenced the defendant, Jean-Jacques Mazier, to serve 18 months in prison, with an additional 18 months suspended, and fined him $100,000.The eight-day trial, in the first week of October, also examined charges of fraud, attempted fraud or aiding and abetting fraud against 22 other church officials or supporters involved in its activities in France.