PORTLAND, ORE. -- Four former disciples of the late Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder a federal prosecutor several years ago, according to the Justice Department.
Three of the four were leaders of Rajneesh's 64,000-acre commune in north-central Oregon where Rajneesh presided from 1981 until the commune collapsed in late 1985 after he pleaded guilty to federal immigration charges and was deported. Rajneesh died in January in India.
The alleged target of the murder conspiracy was U.S. Attorney Charles Turner, the lead prosecutor of Rajneesh. The alleged plot reportedly was thwarted by a power struggle within the commune.
On Tuesday, a former bodyguard to the guru's personal secretary pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder Turner. Alma Peralta, formerly Ma Dhyan Yogini, was sentenced to two years in prison in exchange for cooperating with federal officials.
Arrested in the alleged plot were Catherine Jane Stubbs, 45, also known as Ma Shanti Bhadra, a native of Australia; Ann Phyllis McCarthy, 43, also known as Ma Yoga Vidya, a native of South Africa; Susan Lissanevitch, 43, also known as Ma Anand Su, a native of England, and Richard Kevin Langford, 40, also known as Swami Anugiten, a native of Syracuse, N.Y.
If convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison.