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LA Church Leader Allegedly Used Embezzled Money to Buy Access to Disneyland’s Club 33

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He allegedly siphoned off more than $11 million from Los Angeles Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist

Smoke lifting off of a tray of small bites at 21 Royal inside Disneyland.
A magical meal at Disneyland
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Federal agents from the Department of Justice are accusing Charles T. Sebesta, a prominent former leader at the Los Angeles Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, of siphoning off more than $11 million from the organization in order to fund a lavish lifestyle, including access to one of the hardest-to-get-into restaurants anywhere in America. Not only did Sebesta reportedly purchase a home with the funds, he also sprung for the ultimate Disney upgrade — a seat at the table at the expensive and exclusive Club 33 inside Disneyland.

Per the LA Times and others, Sebesta reportedly forged checks and used his position as a chairman for the Southern California Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist to draw in close to $11.5 million over the course of a decade.

The famed Orange County restaurant Club 33 actually sits inside the Disneyland park in Anaheim, but is only open to diners willing to pay an annual fee of $10,000 — and that doesn’t include the $25,000 initiation fee. Over the years, celebrities like Elton John and Tom Hanks have signed up as members.

As KTLA reports, Sebesta spent years working his way up through the ranks of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, which has locations all across California. The church formerly operated out of a prime corner location at Hollywood and La Brea, now occupied by Mosaic church.

While Sebesta reportedly did woo entertainment executives and folks from the sports world with dinners at Club 33, he could have spent far more if he had wanted. Disneyland has a separate meal at a space called 21 Royal that runs $15,000 just for the evening, and it’s billed as “the ultimate in Disney wizardry.” No word yet on whether or not Sebesta will have to formally rescind his Club 33 dining status.

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