Agape Ministries of God:
Agape cult owes me for toilet rolls
November 29 2011
A DISGRUNTLED former Agape parishioner wants a refund for every item he bought for the cult, even the toilet paper.
The District Court yesterday heard details of Martin Penney's claim against the doomsday cult and its fugitive leader, Rocco Leo.
one of several court actions lodged against Agape and Leo
The Adelaide businessman - who accompanied Leo to the Philippines in 2007 - claims he spent $250,000 of his own money on "daily incidentals" for the cult, including toilet paper.
He further asserts he bought the cult a $42,000 Ford Fairlane and donated $217,000 in cash during his time as a member.
In all, Mr Penney claims Leo's stories of poisoned microchips, government beheadings and South Pacific island refuges duped him into parting with $876,000.
Mr Penney's claim is one of several court actions lodged against Agape and Leo. Former follower Sylvia Melchiorre is seeking $420,000, while the Australian Taxation Office wants $4.1 million after stripping the cult of its tax-exempt status as a religion.
In January, the Holden Hill Magistrates Court issued an arrest warrant for Leo after he failed to answer assault charges. In June, Fijian authorities located Leo and his inner circle - siblings Joseph and Mari Antoinette Veneziano - in a former resort complex on the island.
One month later, Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC, said Leo would not be criminally pursued over the discovery of guns and 35,000 rounds of ammunition on cult property.
Yesterday, the District Court heard Mr Penney kept the receipts for every transaction made on Agape's behalf. Those figures had been combined into a schedule filed with the court, totalling $876,000.
Lawyers for Mr Penney said they had withdrawn claims their client also bought $300,000 worth of machinery and equipment for the cult. However, lawyers for Agape said they were counter-suing Mr Penney.
They said their receipts showed he had borrowed $621,000 from the cult during his membership.
Master Mark Rice said that "sounded most unusual".
"He says he donated $876,000 and you say he borrowed $621,000 at the same time?" he asked.
"That's a very bizarre arrangement ... (this case is) curiouser and curiouser."
He ordered the parties file all documents in time for a final directions hearing in March.
On that date, he said, the matter would be set down for trial.
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