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Hubbard's wife says Scientology leader is alive

LOS ANGELES -- The wife of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard believes her husband is alive and is contesting her stepson's effort to have him declared dead or mentally incompetent to handle his estate, her attorney said Monday.

Mary Sue Hubbard, who faces a prison sentence next month for charges in a church plot to steal government documents, has not seen her 71-year-old husband since 1979 but has no reason to believe he is dead, attorney Barrett Litt said.

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Ronald DeWolf, who changed his name from L. Ron Hubbard Jr., filed a petition in Riverside County Superior Court declaring that his father is either dead or mentally incompetent and asking to be appointed trustee of the multi-million dollar estate.

Mrs. Hubbard filed a notice to appear at the Dec. 30 hearing for DeWolf to present evidence supporting his petition, but it was uncertain whether she could attend because she is scheduled to be sentenced in Washington on Dec. 9.

She faces a maximum 5-year term for federal court convictions stemming from a four-year program to burglarize, bug and infiltrate government offices. Ten other Scientologists were also convicted.

Litt said Mrs. Hubbard, 51, who lives in Los Angeles, opposes DeWolf's petition on grounds there is no evidence to support the claim that Hubbard cannot handle his own affairs and no reason to invade her husband's privacy.

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'Her position is there is no need for anyone to be named trustee,' Litt said. 'As far as she is aware and concerned, her husband has made arrangement for his property. She receives support from him and communications by mail. There is no reason to believe there is any problem.'

The attorney said he did not know why the Hubbards have not seen each other since 1979, but said it was not unusual for them to be apart for long periods of time.

DeWolf, 48, who has been estranged from his father since 1959 and now lives in Carson City, Nev., claimed that church officials are stealing from Hubbard's estate, which he estimates at $1 billion, by forging his signature. He said nobody has seen Hubbard since 1980.

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