Samanta Roy’s new name OK’d by Baltimore judge

Shawano Leder, Wisconsin/September 30, 2007

The name R.C. Samanta Roy has been well-known to the Shawano area for many years, but as of last week the name so often the subject of community conversation has been changed.

The founder of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, Inc. (SIST), is now Avraham Cohen.

A Baltimore County circuit court granted the name change petition Sept. 17, according to the Baltimore County clerk of court’s office, but the judge’s decision was not entered into the system until Wednesday.

It marked the second name change for the man once known as Rama Behera.

Court records obtained by the Leader show Rama Chandra Samanta Roy filed a petition Aug. 15 seeking to change his name to Avraham Cohen out of a desire to return to his Jewish heritage following a death in the family.

"Since my daughter’s recent death, I would like to return to my family’s Jewish heritage name," the petition states.

In his petition for a name change filed in Shawano County Circuit Court in 1990, when he was known as Rama Behera, Cohen described himself as "a minister and pastor in a religious group known as The Disciples of the Lord Jesus."

The Baltimore County petition informed the court of his previous name change from Behera to Samanta Roy, which the petition states was done out of "family tradition."

In July, affidavits filed in Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt’s defamation suit against former SIST board member Kalmar Gronvall maintained Samanta Roy was using the name Avraham Cohen and living in Baltimore.

SIST and two of its subsidiaries are named as co-defendants in the suit.

Contacted by the Shawano Leader at the time, Rebecca Gietman, the attorney representing SIST and the other defendants, denied the assertions made in the affidavits.

Informed of the most recent name change petition and court decision Wednesday, her office requested the Leader provide any written documentation before commenting. A copy of the petition was faxed to her Kaukauna office.

"Under the laws of our country, every citizen has a right to change his or her name as many times as they want," Gietman stated in a faxed response. "Obviously you do not think Dr. Roy has that same right to change his name."

The response went on to accuse the Shawano Leader of being "complicit in the social and racial discrimination waged against Dr. Roy for the last 30 years."

A second fax was sent Thursday asking Gietman to address the apparent discrepancy between the name change and her denials in July.

She told a Leader reporter there would be a response, but it was not received by late Friday afternoon.

SIST and its subsidiaries have purchased or entered into land contracts on Shawano area properties at a cost of more than $13 million. Its subsidiaries operate several businesses in the area. SIST representatives have said the businesses are intended to fund an international boarding school in the Shawano area.

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