Judge Nicholas Garaufis

Salzman-Raniere seized devices going to FBI HQs – while defense seeks hard deadlines on discovery

A status conference on discovery issues is scheduled for October 2nd, between the prosecution and the defense in the case against Keith Raniere et al.  It will be held before Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon, who has been assigned to help resolve discovery disputes by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, the presiding judge in the case.

According to court records, the “working date” for the prosecution’s production of “all relevant known discovery” is December 7, 2018. The trial is currently scheduled to start on January 7, 2019.

The present discovery dispute centers largely around delivery to the defense of data contained in approximately 70 devices seized at Nancy Salzman’s home at 3 Oregon Trail, and a townhome used by Keith Raniere, which he commonly referred to as his “Library” and which was popularly known as his “Sex Lair”, at 8 Hale Drive.

As explained by the prosecution to the court, a team of seven forensic examiners with the FBI’s Computer Analysis Response Team (CART) has been examining the devices seized from Salzman and Raniere. The CART team must first image the devices with forensic imaging software that copies each bit of computer code—a series of ones and zeroes—in sequence, “bit by bit.” To help ensure the original and the image are “forensically identical,” the CART examiners use a program that calculates a unique number, or “hash value”, for the original and, later, for the image, and ensures they match. Into the imaged copy, the CART examiner transfers all the data from the original hard drive – including active data, deleted data, metadata, files, folders, and empty or unallocated spaces – to make it available for examination and review.  This process can take from a few minutes to weeks, depending on the amount of data on the drive.

Next, the content is uploaded to FBI’s data review platform, where FBI case agents review the data – consistent with the court-authorized searches.  Many of the devices seized from the Clifton Park properties contain audio and video files. Unlike text files that can be searched using certain keywords [and that allow irrelevant files to be ignored], the audio and video files must be reviewed individually, file by file. That takes time, the prosecution argues.

There is another problem causing delay: Some of the seized devices, due to encryption or other technical issues, were sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico.  Accessing this data may take months, because of backlog, the prosecution says. The Raniere-Salzman encrypted devices are placed in queue alongside evidence from other cases, including cases involving allegedly imminent threats to national security which the laboratory must prioritize.

Whether this delay could be avoided with Salzman and Raniere giving the passwords and usernames for the encrypted devices to the FBI – is not known.

There is another problem delaying discovery: Nancy Salzman has objected to copies being made of her data and given to the other defendants.  As I understand it, Salzman wants to review the data on her devices first and determine if she objects to it being made available to all her co-defendants – since some of it may not pertain to their charges and, thus, would needlessly violate her privacy by sharing it.

For these reasons, the prosecution argues, they are “unable at this time to provide the Court with precise estimates regarding the timing and completion of its searches of these devices.”

In response to the government’s uncertain dates for discovery, Clare Bronfman’s lawyers, Susan Necheles and Kathleen Cassidy, argued in a letter to the Court that getting discovery 30 days before trial would “provide inadequate time for the defendants to review the discovery before trial.”

They point out that the government seized the computers more than six months ago.

Of special concern to the Bronfman defense team are devices sent to FBI Headquarters.

They write “[W]e are concerned that even the December 7 date will pass without defendants having received the entirety of discovery.”

The defense is asking the court to impose strict discovery deadlines with a hard cutoff date, after which the government will be precluded from introducing at trial any materials it has in its possession that it did not produce to the defense attorneys by the cutoff date.

It is up to Judge Garaufis to decide whether he will impose a hard deadline on discovery and bar evidence not delivered by that time. He could also decide to postpone the trial date to give the defense adequate time to review discovery delivered after the deadline.


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Frank Parlato


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  • As many postponements as it takes, as long as they actually start bothering to enforce bail conditions, because then I think pretty much everybody is going to be locked up until trial.

  • Since the purpose of this trial is to charge the defendants with crimes they committed the prosecution should not be limited based on the amount of evidence created by the defendants, some of which haven’t been charged yet. Wasn’t this the purpose of the judge deciding this was a complex case?
    NXIVM has claimed the women claiming to be victims were willing participants then that information should be verified in discovery. You would think if they are telling the truth they would want this info that could help exonerate them to be gone over very carefully.
    It shouldn’t matter how long it takes or how many times the judge has to postpone the trial, if the purpose is to find and verify the crimes being charged. This is what is done in trials. This is also the purpose of so many defense attorneys. As we have all pointed out we have never seen so many attorneys hired for so few defendants. NXIVM has more than enough legal expertise to handle discovery, way more than the average defendant.
    These people are so used to getting their way, maybe if they had waited to hire all the extra attorneys this might have gone their way.
    For both sides no discovery should be ignored. Of course this trial will be postponed possibly several times. I’ve seen trials take years to get to court.
    These judges know who they are up against. Let’s hope they continue to play fair.

  • Decrypting files is a lot of fun and takes a lot of time. And there is a good reason to not help. I mean why would the defendants want to do that. It could only be bad for them. On the other hand it will delay the entire process.
    It seems to me that Raniere et all are less worried about staying in their small cell for now than about what might be found.

    • “It seems to me that Raniere et all are less worried about staying in their small cell for now than about what might be found.”

      Extremely good point.
      Those digital files are the main evidence of all of NXIVM’s crimes.

      They could contain evidence of money laundering and tax evasion.

      On top of that they could also point to child sex trafficking and NXIVM’s attempts to interfere in the governments of Mexico and Libya.

      One can always attack the recollection of witnesses.

      But digital files kept in the ordinary course of NXIVM’s business operations are more authentic and harder to attack.

      Raniere, the Bronfman Sisters and Mack know damned well what’s in those digital files and how explosive they are.
      That’s why they want the government to only have a cursory peak at those files and not a thorough examination.
      And Emiliano Salinas also wants a rush job.

  • The sensible course of action is for the judge to postpone the trial’s start date.
    It is already acknowledged that this a complex case conceivably involving dozens of defendants as well hundreds, perhaps thousands of crimes, dozens of witnesses, numerous victims and crimes in multiple nations.
    NXIVM also has 100 or more front or shell corporations to conceal criminal activities.
    On top of all that, there are 12 terabytes of digital data to comb through.
    Joe O’Hara in his 2012 lawsuit already listed numerous NXIVM members who might have been involved in criminal activity knowingly or unknowingly.
    See pages 59 to 63 of the 81 page pdf document.

    If Clare and her gangster friends wanted a short simple trial, all they had to do was not create reams and reams of evidence.

    Moreover this avalanche of digital evidence of fraudulent business activities demonstrates that the key woman to flip is not Allison Mack, but is instead NANCY SALZMAN who ran the day to day operations of NXIVM.
    Nancy Salzman knows where the bodies are buried so to speak and Nancy holds the key to salvage her life and also her daughter Lauren’s life.
    In 2009 Nancy was pushed to the side in favor of the Bronfman sisters.
    The current leadership of NXIVM are puppets of the Bronfmans.
    And Nancy’s daughter Lauren was pushed aside as leader of the harem to facilitate the rise of Allison Mack.

    Cooperating with the Feds is a way for Nancy Salzman and Lauren to strike back against the Bronfmans and the Bronfmans’ servants like Allison Mack and Nicki Clyne.

    Nancy and Lauren, it’s time for you to get on the bus and save your lives.

    • Assuming Nancy is telling the truth, it will be her body that will soon be buried, so there isn’t much to salvage. Her best approach is delay the trial until she expires, and her lawyers are more than happy to produce the billable hours to make that happen. Even if she flips, I doubt the punishment will be no prison time at all, and she literally can’t afford any prison time. Living in her house dying is better than going to prison and dying. Other than taking her own life or trying to escape, those are her only two choice.

      • Scott, that may be what the lawyers and codefendants are hoping for but I doubt Nancy is hoping to expire. She is though trying to prevent personal info from being shared. In a cult where nothing is private Nancy has something major she wants covered up. Maybe a third or fourth set of books?

        • I didn’t say Nancy is hoping to expire, I said her time breathing on the planet is probably running out fast. She won’t care about personal information after she expires, and there won’t be around to protest. They all have lots they would like to cover up.

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