Conflict and Duplicity
A source of
the distortion in the Wikipedia articles about Prem Rawat has been exposed
as being Rawat’s personal webmaster and long time devotee Jossi Fresco.
An article in the Online journal,
Wikipedia ruled by 'Lord of the Universe' authored by
Cade Metz reveals that Fresco has made thousands of alterations
to the article about Prem Rawat even though Fresco is employed by an
organisation that promotes Rawat:
And more than two
years after joining, he posted a
"disclosure" deep inside his user page that says he works for an
organization "related" to Prem Rawat.
Wikipedia's "user contribution" tool, Fresco's first 2400 edits -
spread over more than a year from April 2004 to August 2005 - were
almost entirely devoted to Prem Rawat- or cult-related articles.
Not only has Fresco
expended hours of effort to shape the Rawat article, he has acquired
influence within the Wikipedia hierarchy:
among the top three editors by contributions to three out of the four
key content policies," says a senior admin, referencing stats available
Wikipedia contribution analysis tool. "What makes this remarkable is
that two of those policies have been in existence since Wikipedia was
founded, long before he got involved, so he's made enough recent edits
to catch up." Fresco's influence is particularly conspicuous when it
comes to the policies concerning conflict of interest and biographies of
living persons. …………..,
Fresco uses this
policy to control the content on Prem Rawat-related Wikipedia articles -
he says as much in his Wikipedia disclosure - and though other
well-known mainstream sources refer to Rawat's religious movement as a
cult, such information is largely absent from Wikipedia.
Most worryingly for
those Wikipedia insiders who fear that sectional interests are
surreptitiously gaining control of the Encyclopaedia, The Register
reveals that Fresco has had a major impact on the very policy that should
dictate his own conduct – the
Conflict of Interest policy:
fashion, Fresco has heavily influenced Wikipedia's conflict of interest
policy. He's made more edits to the policy than all but two other
Shortly after the
policy was first drafted in October 2006, it included a section that
forbade guru followers from editing articles about their gurus. …………..
removed this language,
defending the change on the policy's discussion page. The original
author of the policy, Wikipedia Arbitration Committee member
Charles Matthews, in turn argued that Fresco shouldn't be anywhere
near the conflict of interest policy.
obvious conflicts he is still to be seen trying to influence the attempts
to make the Rawat articles more balanced.
The ultimate authority for Wikipedia, Jim Wales appears to be in total
denial of what is wrong with the system over which he presides and simply
denigrates The Register.
Meanwhile critical website
provides a more considered response to The Register’s revelations.
published a self serving, and according to one ‘respondent’, dishonest
response to The Register article.:
I am not
interested in disclosing any further personal information as disaffected
former students, such as the people he used as a source, have in the
past manipulated the media and harassed me and other students. They have
also colluded to disrupt Wikipedia, in a forum managed by one of the
people who the journalist used as a source. They even attempted to
subpoena me to disclose the identities of fellow Wikipedians during a
frivolous legal complaint with a third party a few years back, and
during that time I received hate mail and threats to myself and my
family from anonymous people. I have no inclination to bring off-wiki
disputes to the project, so this is all I will say publicly about these
about the subpoena, have been rejected outright by the principal in the
Jossie Fresco has
referred to my libel lawsuit in his wikipedia entry. His statement that
I tried to find out the identities of wikipedians is completely false.
My lawsuit was filed in February, 2004. The libel complaint is based on
numerous statements made on the internet which falsely claimed I was
involved in illegal activity. The libel complaint details many of the
statements, which occurred between 2001 and 2003. Wikipedia is never
A superior court
judge authorized a subpoena to Jossi so he could be deposed about his
knowledge, as Rawat's webmaster, of the identities of the people making
these libelous claims - again, none of which involved wikipedia.
A law firm which
represented Jossi made a motion to have my lawsuit dismissed as a
violation of free speech rights. That motion was denied. There have been
repeated statements made on the internet that my lawsuit was a SLAPP
suit - in other words, that it violated free speech. There was a
judicial determination that found otherwise. By denying the motion to
dismiss the suit, the court impliedly found the libel complaint was not
It appears that
Jossi's first involvement in wikipedia came in April, 2004. That was
well after the suit was filed. In any event, the libelous statements
alleged in the suit had NOTHING TO DO WITH WIKIPEDIA.
proceedings and filings are public record for anyone who cares to
Damned – The duplicity of disguising an ‘authorised biography’.
A primary source
quoted in the Wikipedia articles about Prem Rawat is a biography called
Peace is Possible,
the presentation by Jossi Fresco and other pro Rawat editors is that this
book is independently published and authored. This presentation is wholly
false, the book is in effect an ‘authorised’ biography procured by Rawat’s
The publisher of
Peace is Possible is given as
Press which lists its address as
Box 605 Dresher, PA 19025 US,
CEO’s name is given as J. Levin.
business with the name Mighty River Press is on record with the
Pennsylvania State Corporations Register,
Box 605 Dresher, PA 19025
given as the address of James Levin, President of a business called
Neighborhood Restorations, vice President is given as Scott Mayo. The
name Neighborhood Restorations appears as part of the title of a range of
businesses of which the officers are James Levin and Scott Mazo.
filing says of Levin and Mazo:
Partner of the Operating Partnership is WPB L.P., a Pennsylvania
limited partnership (the "General Partner") whose general partner is WPB
II, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation ("WPB II") which also serves as
the Developer of the Apartment Complex. WPB II is equally-owned by
James Levin and
Scott Mazo. Mr.
Levin, a Certified Public Accountant, has been involved with the
development and syndication of tax credit projects since 1990. Mr.
Mazo has been involved in the development of the tax credit projects
since 1990 and commercial rental properties since the mid 1980's.
Since forming a partnership in 1992, Mr. Levin and Mr. Mazo have
developed over 350 units of affordable housing.
Mr. Levin and Mr.
Mazo are also the sole owners of Prime Property Management, Inc., a
property management company which is serving as the Management Agent
for the Apartment Complex.
name Scott Mazo appears on a FEC filing which lists Mazo as being Employed
by Neighborhood Resorations, and which gives his home address as Gulph
Scott Mazo is also the name of a Board Member and Treasurer of The Prem
details lodged with
Guidestar give the address of Scott Mazo TPRF Board and Treasurer, as
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania.
Fresco does not specify which organisation causes him to have a Conflict
of Interest in editing Wikipedia, however he is listed as the Press
contact for a number of documents put out in the name of The Prem Rawat
Levin is the CEO of the self described family business (Mighty River
Press) i.e. Levin is the owner or is a co-owner of Mighty River Press. MRP
is the publisher of the Rawat biography. Therefore Levin is, via the
unregistered Mighty River Press, the publisher of Rawat’s biography.
Levin has been the business partner of Scott Mazo for twenty years, they
have more than thirty business listings in which they share partnerships.
Mazo is the Treasurer of The Prem Rawat Foundation.
relationship between Levin and Mazo undermines any suggestion that Peace
is Possible has been published independently of Prem Rawat or his
promoters. Its use as a reference for an encyclopedia is dubious, not
because it is in effect an ‘authorised’ biography but because the
‘authorisation’ has been deliberately disguised. Further as an active
editor and administrator of the Rawat Wikipedia articles, and as a person
with clear links to The Prem Rawat Foundation, Jossi Fresco must
reasonably be presumed to be fully cognisant of the obfuscation of the
relationship between the publisher of Peace is Possible and the Treasurer
of The Prem Rawat Foundation.