According to Paul Morantz, an attorney and investigative journalist, more than 80 people were attacked by Synanon. After a former member went to the police stating that he had been clubbed over the head by those in the "Imperial Marines," Morantz decided to take the case in 1977.
According to the lawyer, the group then left a rattlesnake in his mail chute. This resulted in a six-day stay in a hospital and made local news after Morantz was bitten by the venomous reptile.
Then, in 1983, three Synanon officials stated that the cult had, in fact, created a "hit list" of enemies over the years, which included Morantz and others. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, the former members revealed that Dederich’s assistant, Walter Lewbel, had approved the list and that security chief Art Warfield had offered to pay for a hitman to kill Morantz. After arresting several additional key players, law enforcement then charged Dederich with conspiracy to commit murder. When they went to arrest him, he was so drunk that he had to be carried to jail on a stretcher.