Somewhat lost amid all the new filings this week regarding the denial of Keith Raniere’s latest request for bail – and Judge Nicholas G.Garaufis’ decision to take a much deeper look at the Legal Defense Trust fund that was set up by Clare Bronfman just before she herself was indicted – was the revelation that the federal government is continuing to expand its investigation into the criminal activities of several members of the NXIVM crime syndicate.
The first tip-off came from the December 4th request that was submitted by AUSAs Moira KimPenza and Tanya Hajjar to allow the government to defer the full disclosure of the new search warrants it has obtained in the case – and the affidavits it used to secure those search warrants.
More details emerged in the letter-of-response that was filed the very next day by Marc Agnifilo, the head of Raniere’s legal team, and his associate, Teny Geragos, the daughter of Mark Geragos, the renowned criminal defense attorney who has defended Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Wynona Ryder and a host of other celebrities.
So, what exactly is going here, you ask?
Well, let’s see if we can figure at least some of it out…
To begin with, we now know that the federal government has obtained several more search warrants that were sealed by the issuing judges at the time they were issued – and that redacted copies of those warrants were unsealed by federal Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo (EDNY) on November 20, 2018 (Judge Kuo, by the way, is the first Taiwanese-American federal judge to have been appointed in New York State).
We also know that the “…unsealed, redacted copies of the Warrants were disclosed to the respective defendants with standing on November 21, 2018” – and that the government wants to keep the redacted portions of the Warrants… under seal until further order of the Court”.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Agnifilo and Ms. Geragos have a totally different idea as to what should be done with respect to the new search warrants and the affidavits that were used to obtain them.
More specifically, Agnifilo and Geragos argue – on behalf of Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, and Nancy Salzman – that Judge Garaufis should order the prosecutors to “…unseal the search warrant affidavits, at least with respect to the portions of the affidavits that relate to the current indictment.”
And in what can only be described as a whiny little argument, Agnifilo and Geragos also tell the court that “Because defense counsel has not seen the ex parte applications the Government filed with the Court, we are left to guess as to the reasons why entire pages of the search warrants were excluded without reasons. While there may be lawful bases to redact the search warrants, such as an ongoing investigation, those bases would not apply to the portions of the search warrants that are relevant to charges that the defendants are currently facing.”
But thanks to the filings of Agnifilo and Geragos on this topic, we also know several more facts about the case against Raniere et al – including these little tidbits:
- On January 18, 2018, Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak (EDNY) issued a search warrant on Raniere’s Yahoo account: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In March 2018, the government obtained search warrants for Nancy Salzman’s house – and Clare Bronfman’s Gmail account: email@example.com.
- In October 2018, the government obtained additional search warrants on the same two email accounts – and on some of the devices that were seized by the FBI from Salzman’s house back in March 2018.
- On November 2, 2018, the government disclosed the existence of the new search warrants.
- On November 21, 2018, the government provided redacted copies of the search warrants to the attorneys who are currently representing Raniere, Bronfman, and Salzman.
- On November 26, 2018, the attorneys who are currently representing Raniere, Bronfman, and Salzman requested that the government “…promptly produce the unredacted versions of the search warrants, at least to the portions of the affidavits that refer to the alleged schemes already charged in the Superseding Indictment returned over four months ago.”
As of right now, this little brouhaha is nothing more than a pissing match as to when the government has to totally unseal the new search warrants it obtained a couple of months ago. That’s eventually going to happen as part of the normal discovery process.
The real news is that the government is continuing to gather new evidence against Raniere, Bronfman, and Nancy Salzman.
That suggests that Nancy may not be the named defendant who is in the process of flipping. Or it could simply mean that the government is proceeding very cautiously – and not giving away any information as to its strategy in the case.
The “bottom line”, however, is that the government is continuing to expand its investigation with regard to at least some of the current defendants – which will likely lead to more charges being filed against them in a future superseding indictment.
The leaves open the question of whether the government is also actively investigating other members of the NXIVM crime syndicate – and whether it will also name some of these individuals in a future superseding indictment.
One other thing that Agnifilo and Geragos disclosed in their aforementioned December 5th letter is just how much information the prosecution has already accumulated against the defendants.
As they noted in that letter. “… the defendants have been actively reviewing the ‘250,000 bates-numbered pages of discovery,’ (and) the ‘forensic copies of devices containing at least another approximately 1,000,000 documents and approximately 1000 audio/visual files’ the Government has produced”.
It’s hard to even begin to estimate just how many billable hours reviewing all those materials will take. But it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a very happy holiday season for all the attorneys who are workingon this case.
Viva Executive Success!