Dr. Commander cries on witness stand - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Dr. Commander cries on witness stand

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The man who claims to have thousands of Hindu followers around the world took the witness stand in his federal money laundering trial and broke down in tears.

The Fox 5 I-Team first began investigating the leader of the Hindu Temple of Georgia in 2008. His name is Annamalai Annamalai but he insists his "thousands of followers" prefer to call him Dr. Commander.

Attorney Don Samuel had to interrupt his client several times during his testimony because he continued to talk long after answering the question.

Testifying without any notes, Dr. Commander rattled off plenty of facts about money.

He bought an old Catholic church site in Norcross for $3.8 million.

Put up a fancy wrought iron fence around the property for $850,000.

Declared bankruptcy when his lender sold the note for only $500,000.

But the number Dr. Commander hopes the jury ignores is 22. The number of federal felony counts that could ultimately deport him back to his native India for good.

In the summer of 2008, an undercover Fox 5 I-Team investigation revealed just how much the Hindu Temple of Georgia focused on money. Despite the fact that most Hindus frown on alcohol and beef, we asked Dr. Commander if we could rent out the 43-thousand square foot facility for a barbeque and beer bash.

Fox 5 I-Team undercover: Could we bring alcohol, beer and wine?

Dr. Commander: Yes. That's fine. How do you want me to do this?

Fox 5 I-Team undercover: Well, I don't have any money on my now.

Dr. Commander: That's fine. You can pay through credit card."

Dr. Commander used a free magazine to advertise spiritual help over the phone. But many customers later complained to state and federal authorities that the Temple ran up their credit cards for thousands of dollars in extra charges. When they disputed the charge, Dr. Commander sued them. Some... multiple times.

Ultimately, a bankruptcy trustee sold the temple property. Dr. Commander moved his operation to Ohio and then Texas.

In court, the defendant claimed the mafia was behind the seizure of his temple and he says all of his troubles started with a rivalry he claims he had with another hindu temple in metro Atlanta, envious he says of his followers. And then Dr. Commander began to cry.

"They think I'm a thief in this country! They think I'm a thief! I fed 1000s, 1000s of people!"

He repeatedly reminded the jury that he was an expert in reading horoscopes in a specific Hindu way. The only one in North America, he insisted.

A 49-year-old Indian immigrant who once claimed a net worth of $60 million.

"Anything I touched, it went Number One. I was very successful."

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