Romanian couple 'joined mystical cult in Washington while hiding from international investigators over $73m tax fraud'

Daily Mail, UK/March 20, 2014

By Louise Boyle

A Romanian couple have been arrested after allegedly evading $73million in taxes and hiding out in Washington state where they joined a cult.

Radu Nemes, 39, and his wife Diana, 38, were arrested by the FBI on Tuesday and are facing extradition to their home country to face charges that they colluded with a high-ranking official to dodge millions in fuel taxes.

The couple had fled Romania in June 2012 and immersed themselves in Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, a mystical religious movement in Yelm.

Ramtha's School of Enlightment is run by female leader J.Z. Knight, a 68-year-old, three-times married platinum blonde business school dropout, who was born in Roswell, New Mexico.

She claims to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit from a mythical continent.

Ms Knight (the J.Z. stands for Judy Zebra) runs the enlightenment school next door to her 12,800-square-foot French chateau-style mansion.

Her spiritual method claims to bring together ancient wisdom with the power of consciousness and the latest scientific discoveries.

The Nemes own a luxury home in Thurston County, which they allegedly built with the illegal funds, while Romanian investigators claim they own several pizza restaurants in the Seattle area, according to SeattlePI.

Court documents show that the couple have a majority stake in Eagleview Hill Winery in Rainier and Salida Wine Bar in Yelm.

Doug McCrea, who owns the winery, told the Nisqually Valley News that he met the Romanian couple through Greg Simmons, former Ramtha School of Enlightenment marketing director. Mr McCrea said that he had no idea of the Nemes' criminal past but did confirm they were members of Ramtha.

According to filings, Radu Nemes allegedly worked as part of a criminal gang to illegally import 1million tons of diesel fuel and sell it in Romania through shell companies between 2011 and 2012.

The shell companies were set up in names of homeless people to distance the Nemes from the fraud.

The massive tax dodge came by importing the fuel for manufacturing purposes then selling it directly to consumers.

Diana Nemes allegedly helped her husband by laundering money from the fuel scheme through Dubai accounts and then bringing it into the U.S.

At least 20 others have been charged in the massive tax dodge, according to Romanian investigators including a senior official at the national customs office.

The Nemes, who remain in jail, are due to appear in court today.

Multiple calls to Ramtha's School of Enlightenment were not returned to MailOnline at the time of publication.

Ramtha's, which was set up in 1988, is an 'academy of the mind that offers retreats and workshops to people of all ages and cultures', according to its official website.

Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, which claims roots in the teachings of a 35,000-year-old warrior from a mystical land, was founded 26 years ago by a business school drop-out from Roswell, New Mexico.

JZ Knight (born Judith Darlene Hampton in 1946) is the spiritual school's 'high priestess' after she claims that she was visited in 1977 by an entity named Ramtha, an ancient warrior who channels his teachings through her.

Ramtha, the 'Enlightened One', marries ancient wisdom with neuroscience and quantum physics to allow followers to access their own 'direct channel' with God.

Between 1979 and 1988, Knight traveled the U.S. having private 'dialogues' with students. In 1988,  Ramtha's School of Enlightenment was founded on former ranch land in Yelm, a small city in rural Washington state.

By 1995, Ramtha's school had an international reputation. J.Z. Knight was touring Australia, Italy, Japan and South Africa to spread her message of how students can use their brain power to 'Become a Remarkable Life'.

The school has a 80-acre fenced compound, not open to the public, which is the site of retreats for students and staff.

The 68-year-old religious guru's company, JZK Inc. posted profits of $2.6million in 2007 from these courses along with books, tapes and DVDs.

In 2008, Ramtha's School of Enlightenment spread to 20 more countries including the Czech Republic, Romania and Chile.

Ramtha's claims that more than 100,000 people globally have attended their spiritual events.

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