Mayor claims Samanta Roy has other identity: Roy's attorney denies

SIST founder using another name in Maryland

Shawano Leader, Wisconsin/July 20, 2007
By Tim Ryan

Affidavits filed in a civil suit in Shawano County Circuit Court claim R. C. Samanta Roy, founder and president of the Shawano-based Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, Inc. (SIST), is living under the name Avraham Cohen in Baltimore, Maryland.

Samanta Roy – whose institute and its subsidiaries have purchased or entered into land contracts on Shawano area properties at a cost of more than $7 million – has reportedly pledged half a million dollars to a Jewish private school in Baltimore, according to the court documents.

The revelation about Samanta Roy's alleged Baltimore identity is included in filings as part of Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt's libel and defamation suit against SIST, two of its subsidiaries, and SIST representative, Kalmar G. Gronvall.

A motion hearing in the case is scheduled for this afternoon, at which point the affidavits are expected to be introduced.

One of the exhibits offered into evidence with the affidavits is an online article from the Baltimore school's web site regarding Dr. Avraham Cohen's pledge of $500,000 to the Yeshivat Rambam school.

The article, which states that Cohen is a neurosurgeon, includes a photo of Cohen with two young girls that are identified as his daughters.

Another affidavit, signed by Tony Zielinski of Shawano, identifies the man in the photo as Samanta Roy. Zielinski, who is a member of a city commission, said he knows Samanta Roy through his involvement with the city.

"I have known him for some time and recognize him in the picture," Zielinski is quoted as stating in the affidavit.

Rebecca Gietman, the attorney representing the defendants, said the claims made in the affidavits are not true.

"No, Dr. Roy is not living in Maryland as a neurosurgeon," she said. "That allegation is completely false."

Asked where Samanta Roy is located, Gietman said, "he has a residence in Shawano."

Gietman said the man identified as Cohen in one of the photos looks slightly like Samanta Roy. But she said there are "significant differences" between the two in another photo, showing Cohen with a member of the school staff.

The article on the Yeshivat Rambam web site describes Cohen as a neurosurgeon and successful businessman who grew up in the Jewish community in India.

According to the article, "Dr. Cohen's family was in the import export business, trading products with the merchants on the islands of Java, Sumatra, and Borneo. He went into medicine and then went into the hospital business."

Cohen is quoted in the Yeshivat Rambam article praising the Baltimore school.

"Now I belong to a Jewish school and a Jewish community, Yeshivat Rambam," he is quoted as saying, adding the school's teaching stems from the Torah.

"I am so glad and feel so secure that my daughters will grow up here at Yeshivat Rambam and will become great women academically and mothers of Yisrael who will preserve our culture, our dignity, and our excellence."

The school's web site no longer has a link to the article. The Shawano Leader was able to obtain an archived copy of it, however. The article, headlined "A Shining Example," praises Cohen for his pledged donation to the school.

The Shawano Leader contacted the Yeshivat Rambam school for a comment about the information in the affidavits. A spokesperson for the school said she would relay the message to school president Seth Rotenberg. A short time later the spokesperson called back to say Rotenberg had no comment.

The photo of Avraham Cohen in the article was identified by at least four local businessmen as Samanta Roy, according to Marquardt's attorney, James Chereskin.

Chereskin said it was not necessary to have all of them sign affidavits as, "it would have been overkill."

Gietman said the allegation, along with being false, is also irrelevant to the lawsuit.

"Dr. Samanta Roy is not a defendant in that lawsuit," she said. "Even if that were true, it would be completely irrelevant, but it's absolutely not true."

Gietman was asked if Samanta Roy could be contacted for a comment and said that Samanta Roy speaks through her.

A message was left for Naomi Isaacson, who is listed as the registered agent for SIST and its subsidiaries. The call was not returned by deadline.

Gronvall, contacted Thursday, declined comment on the advice of his attorney.

In responding to the suit, SIST has attempted to distance itself from Gronvall and materials he has ostensibly printed accusing Marquardt of racism. SIST maintains Gronvall is no longer a member of its board and, in producing materials focusing on Marquardt, acted on his own, according to a court filing from SIST's attorney.

At the same time, SIST is also maintaining Marquardt is a public figure and Gronvall's published material is protected as free speech.

Samanta Roy arrived in the Shawano area in the mid 1970s, when he was known as Rama Behera and led the Disciples of the Lord Jesus.

Court records show he changed his name to R. C. Samanta Roy in 1990. In the early 1990s he established the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology.

SIST and its subsidiaries run several businesses in the area, including the USA International Raceway, three gas stations, two hotels, a fudge shop, and the Spirit of the Northwoods in downtown Shawano. Several other businesses lease property owned by SIST or its subsidiaries.

SIST representatives have said the businesses are intended to fund an international boarding school in the Shawano area. Tax documents indicate SIST already operates a school in India.

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