Blame it on the Frank Report.
Or on NXIVM laundered money.
Last month, Keith Raniere’s lawyers made a motion to seal [keep secret from the public] names of friends of Raniere’s who want to sign as guarantors of his bail bond. The prosecution promptly responded opposing Raniere’s request.
Today, Raniere’s attorneys countered the prosecution’s reply with a reply of their own.
Raniere’s reply comes in the form of a letter to Judge Nicholas Garaufis and says in part, “The government relies primarily on two cases – United States v. Alcantra, 396 F.3d 189 (2d Cir. 2005) and United States v. John Doe, 63 F.3d 121 (2d Cir. 1995), both involving the closure of entire proceedings – to support the position that the requested limited sealing in this case is inappropriate. However, a closer reading of these decisions shows they are distinct from the present matter on two grounds: first, because the sealing sought here is limited to the identities of potential bond co-signers, and second, because our initial submission sets forth the basis on which these co-signers are reasonably afraid of serious repercussions from participating in this court process through the signing of a bond on behalf of the defendant Keith Raniere….”
Raniere’s lawyers go on to try to distinguish between the cases cited by the prosecution and Raniere’s circumstances. They do not, however, cite any cases to support their own unprecedented position.
In their initial motion to seal, Raniere’s lawyers seem to base the need for secrecy for Raniere’s co guarantors largely on this blog – the Frank Report. The lack of precedent cited by such a distinguished group of attorneys suggests they could not find any.
This request to close the criminal courts from public view and from the press may be precedent in the 240-plus year history of the USA.
The fact that this motion is based largely on a sole “journalist” makes this an extremely interesting issue – at least to me – since I am that “journalist.” If the motion to seal is granted, maybe it can be called the “Parlato Fear Factor Rule.” In the future, whenever potential co-signers of bonds are so afraid of what some one person, a journalist, a blogger, or even a rambling writing idiot — or a group of persons – or the entire collective worldwide media might write about them – then the defendant can cite precedent in USA v. Raniere to argue they have the right to keep the names secret.
Mob bosses, drug cartel leaders and others who, like Raniere, have little-to-no-chance of being freed on bail anyway – can cite the Raniere precedent [or the Parlato Fear Factor] to allow their confederates to post bail or present evidence or anything else that can be cooked up – all beyond the pale of public scrutiny.
While the Raniere team cites zero precedent, they do reiterate a “four-step process” which courts are expected to “follow in deciding a motion for closure.” The first one is that ‘the district court must determine, in specific findings made on the record, if there is a substantial probability of prejudice to a compelling interest of the defendant, government or a third party.’…
The first step is plainly a challenge for defendant Raniere. “Specific findings” require, I think, more than conclusory allegations on the part of the defendant. They would require “specific findings.” That might require an evidentiary hearing — where evidence is offered to the court – that cosigners are in some kind of danger or risk that outweighs the public’s right to know who they are.
The Raniere team further states “… the defendant’s constitutional and statutory right to [try to make bail] is prejudiced by the fact that people who ordinarily would be willing to co-sign a bond for Raniere’s release are not willing to do so for fear of reprisal if their names are made public.”
This is an admission on the part of Raniere’s defense team that Raniere’s friends will only post bail if their names are secret. What then are their fears?
The defense team writes the basis “for these people to fear reprisal [are] … There has been wide-spread hacking and misappropriation of NXIVM’s database by individuals and at least one news organization…This means that the hackers may be in possession of the potential co-signer’s … name, address, dates of birth and other identity data…[and] There have been several instances where the home addresses of NXIVM supporters have been published or posted on the internet solely as a means of harassment and intimidation…”
What is the proof for this? Neither the initial Raniere motion nor Raniere’s latest reply offers evidence of widespread hacking. The Raniere team uses the words “computer hackers” as in plural, but there was only one person who pled guilty to computer trespassing – John Tighe. He is in prison on other charges. Who are the other hackers?
Is it those who were charged or sued for computer trespassing by NXIVM – Joe O’Hara, Toni Natalie, Barbara Bouchey, James Odato and Suzanna Andrews? No, it can’t be them, since the cases against them were dismissed. Forget the fact that alleged computer hacker Clare Bronfman seemed to have perjured herself to make the dhsrge in the first place: the cases were all dismissed. They are, therefore, innocent of charges of computer hacking. So where is the evidence of computer hackers – plural?
As for the allegation that NXIVM supporters’ addresses have been published, “solely as a means of harassment and intimidation” where is the evidence for this?
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am pretty sure the Raniere team is referring to me. I have published some NXIVM members addresses, [along with online pictures readily available of their homes.] I have not done this to harass or intimidate, but to expose to the public the lavish homes and possible fruits of ill-gotten gains of NXIVM members.
For instance, I published the home address and pictures found on the internet of the mansion of Loreta Garza. Where did she get the money to buy it? She was Nancy Salzman’s personal assistant? How is it that she now has a lavish home? Was it purchased with laundered money?
I published the address of the sex lair [he called it his “library”] of Keith Raniere where he coerced women into sex slavery – and Allison Mack’s address, where women were brutally branded.
I published the Albany address of Ludwika Paleta – the famous Mexican actress – who purchased a home near Raniere and had cars with dark tinted windows meeting her and mysteriously following her at all hours – alarming neighbors.
I published Dr. Brandon Porter’s home address because sources told me there was laundered money of Mack’s used to purchase it. Some of the properties were purchased in shell corporations later named by the prosecution. Alex Betancourt bought several homes in the Albany area with a suspected shell company.
I was also first to publish Raniere’s address, where he was hiding in Mexico – that some believe may have been a clue to his whereabouts that led ultimately to his arrest in Mexico.
There is good reason for the public to be aware of the many real estate transactions that occurred by NXIVM – and its members – and their over 100 shell companies – purchased quite possibly with laundered money.
All of the addresses of NXIVM members I published, however, are a matter of public record – including the owners’ names. None of the addresses or names were published to intimidate or harass but rather to uncover and expose potential crimes – which is well within the boundaries of investigative journalism.
I wonder if the real reason Raniere and his friends want their names kept secret is that the assets they are about to pledge were purchased with laundered money? These secret friends may be co-conspirators. If any of them are on the NXIVM stripe path – they might be willing to lose their assets, knowing that Sara Bronfman will reimburse them – perhaps in Mexico.
Raniere’s friends may not only be co-conspirators, they may also be coerced into co-signing on his bail bond.
They might have given Raniere collateral and are frightened about its release. They may be afraid to cosign and afraid not to cosign for Raniere. Who knows they may actually be hoping the judge denies the motion and they are spared from being intimidated into pledging collateral for Raniere.
Sources have told me in the past that they wanted to get out of NXIVM and escape Raniere but they were afraid to let Bronfman-Raniere find out. Some of these may be the secret friends of Raniere.
Raniere’s defense teams reference me – not by name – but as a “journalist” [in quotation marks] in their papers today. [In the previous submission they named me some 42 times]. I suspect the quotation marks surrounding the word “journalist” was done to cast a shadow on my authenticity, credentials or veracity. I will let my record on Frank Report stand for itself. I doubt anyone writing about this criminal enterprise has been as accurate as I have.
In any event, Raniere’s defense team writes, “There have been numerous instances where a ‘journalist’ states that a certain person is about to be indicted, or is being investigated, based on purported inside law enforcement sources. … Such a defamatory publication would be devastating to a business-person, and no reasonable person would put him or herself in that position.”
This is half-truth. The true part is I accurately predicted that Raniere, Mack, Bronfman, the two Salzman’s and even hapless Kathy Russell would be arrested – prior to their arrests. Every one of my predictions on indictments is 100 percent accurate.
Raniere’s team adds, “The court may not dictate what may be reported, nor can the court order the computer hackers to return the stolen personal and identity data they currently possess. The only option available is the highly limited sealing we have requested.”
This is not true, based on the defense team’s admission. There is a less extraordinary remedy than closing the courtroom. If it is defamatory to predict someone will be indicted – then the ‘victim’ can sue for defamation by libel.
Overall this Raniere motion presents an interesting and novel argument for precedent and opens the door to many more narrowly tailored closures of federal courtrooms based on keeping the press or a particular “journalist” from reporting inconvenient facts.
Meanwhile, Pretrial Supervision has determined Raniere is a flight risk. The prosecution opposes his release under any circumstances. If Raniere gets out, with millions backing him, and facing almost life imprisonment if convicted, he may indeed flee.
If a judge released him on bail – and he escapes – the man who brands and blackmails women – the accused pedophile and master of intimidation of women – what will the judge say? Having ruled in opposition to Pretrial Supervision recommendation, the prosecution, and even alleged victims [who filed a letter with the court opposing his release] and the judge releases Raniere anyway – how will he explain it?
What if Raniere does not escape, but someone harms him in his private home detention – say Carlos Salinas’ assassins?
What if, while Raniere is being attacked by his enemies in his proposed private mansion – other people are hurt?
Even if they seal the courtroom and create a precedent for so doing – will it avail Raniere anything anyway?
Who would be willing to sign off on his release?
Will El Chapo next make a motion for a bail package and ask that his bail bond guarantors be kept secret?
Maybe it will be Carlos Salinas who will secretly put up money for El Chapo or maybe Raniere.
No wonder they want it secret.