[Editor’s Note: Although we know the name of the former member of NXIVM who is described in this post, we have chosen, once again, not to publish it because she is a potential witness in the case of U.S. v. Raniere Et Al. It should be noted that the attorneys representing Clare Bronfman have chosen to include that name in many of their filings regarding this matter].
A couple of weeks ago, we reported on a new battle that has broken out over the contents of a storage locker in Clifton Park, NY that once contained a treasure trove of documents and records belonging to Clare Bronfman.
The storage locker in question is Unit #B379 at Prime Group Storage – [AKA Clifton Park Self Storage] which is located at 1771 Route 9 in Clifton Park, NY.
At the time of our report, Clare’s attorneys were requesting that Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis suppress all the evidence that was found in that storage locker – which would, of course, mean that none of it could be used in the upcoming trial in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al.
We speculated at the time that the prosecution would argue that the storage locker evidence was, in fact, legally obtained – and should, therefore, be admissible as evidence at the trial.
Based on the response that was filed by the prosecution earlier this week, it now looks like Clare and her attorney regarding this matter, Dennis K. Burke, may have blundered badly in their attempt to keep the storage unit contents from being used as evidence against her and/or others.
What happened is fairly complicated. Hopefully, this post will help readers of the Frank Report to understand what happened – and, more importantly, what’s likely to happen next – regarding the contents of the storage locker.
Let’s start with a chronological summary of what happened:
• In late 2015, Clare decided to move some of the documents and records for one of her companies, Wisdom Systems, LLC into a storage unit (This previously-unknown company supposedly provided “bookkeeping, personal assistant services, and referral to its network of business professionals, including attorneys, accountants and computer specialists, to individuals and companies” – which is definitely something that we will do some follow-up research on).
• Clare tasked one of her underpaid minions to secure a storage locker – and to move the designated materials into it (By this time, Clare had also decided to store some of her personal documents and records – and some documents and records concerning the Ethical Science Foundation – in the same unit).
• But when the underpaid minion went to the Prime Group Storage facility to complete the assigned task, she discovered that the storage company only rents to individuals and not companies.
• So, the underpaid minion rented the unit in her name, moved the materials into it, and reported to Clare what had happened.
• In what would later turn out to be a costly mistake, Clare decided to leave the storage unit in the underpaid minion’s name rather than take the time to go Prime Group Storage and have the unit transferred to her name (Maybe she was trying to emulate her mentor, Keith Raniere, who rarely held anything in his name). Per Clare’s directive, Wisdom Systems LLC paid the monthly rental fee on the storage unit.
• Approximately six months after she had rented the storage unit, the underpaid minion left the NXIVM/ESP cult – which would have been an ideal time for Clare to take personal control of the storage unit. But instead of doing that, Clare left the original arrangement in place – and had Wisdom Systems LLC continue to pay the monthly fees. Another costly mistake.
• In early 2018, the Ethical Science Foundation was served with a subpoena by the New York State Department of Health (Presumably, this subpoena had something to do with the illegal fright experiments that the Foundation’s employee, Dr. Brandon Porter, was conducting on young female members of NXIVM/ESP – and/or with the pubic brandings that were being performed by Dr. Danielle Roberts on members of DOS).
• When Burke, who had been tasked by Clare to deal with Department of Health subpoena, attempted to gain access to the storage unit, he was informed that would not be possible because the unit was still in the name of the long-departed underpaid minion.
• When Burke contacted the storage facility and asked that no one be allowed to access the storage unit, he was informed by its Chief Compliance Officer that the facility could not deny access to the leaseholder of a storage unit. The Chief Compliance Officer also suggested that Burke try to obtain a court order to prevent anyone from accessing the unit until the matter could be sorted out – which, for some unknown reason, Burke chose not to do. Another costly mistake.
• Burke next contacted the underpaid minion directly, probably hoping that he could threaten her into turning over the contents of the storage unit. Instead, she told him to contact her attorney, Neil Glazer, a Philadelphia, PA-based attorney who was well-known and highly regarded for his work on behalf of plaintiffs in human rights cases, antitrust cases, toxic tort cases, consumer fraud cases, and international terrorist finance cases.
• When Burke contacted Glazer, he got even worse news: the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York had already issued a subpoena to the underpaid minion for the documents and records in the storage unit. He also found out, however, that Glazer had not yet accessed the storage unit in response to that subpoena – and that everything stored in there was still intact.
• Here was the perfect time for Burke to rush into court – and obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that would prevent anyone from accessing the storage unit until a judge had the opportunity to sort out all the legal issues regarding its contents. But he chose not to do that. Another costly mistake.
• Meanwhile, Glazer offered to provide Burke with copies of everything in the storage unit. He also offered to hold off accessing the unit until Burke could arrange to have someone there to jointly inventory its contents. But Burke, for whatever reason, turned down all those offers. Another costly mistake.
• Instead, Burke contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York – and informed them that the underpaid minion did not have rightful possession of the records in the storage unit. In response, the prosecution withdrew the subpoena.
• So, now Clare and Burke had another chance to seek a TRO – and to let a judge decided who had the right to do what with respect to the contents of the storage unit.
• Instead of doing that, however, they decided to have Clare’s company, Wisdom Systems, LLC, stop making the monthly payments on the storage unit (Maybe they were hoping to buy the contents when the storage facility sold them at auction?). Another costly mistake.
• Glazer’s law firm immediately took over responsibility for the monthly payments regarding the storage unit.
• Several months later, Glazer did access the storage unit – and moved the boxes to his office in Philadelphia. He then informed Burke that this had been done, provided him with an index of the labels on the boxes and files, assured him that no one had looked at any of the documents and records that were in the boxes, and offered, once again, to provide him with copies of everything. Burke rejected each of those offers.
• Glazer also informed the prosecution that he had accessed the storage unit – and was in possession of several boxes of documents and records that he found there. He also provided the prosecution with the same index of the labels on the boxes and files that he had provided to Burke
• For several months, the boxes from the storage unit just sat undisturbed in Glazer’s law offices. Throughout this period of time, Clare and Burke did nothing to try and regain possession of them. Another costly mistake.
• On September 13, 2018, the grand jury that has been hearing testimony regarding the NXIVM/ESP crime syndicate issued a new subpoena for some of the boxes that were in Glazer’s possession.
• But rather than respond right away, Glazer did nothing for several months – thereby giving Burke even more time to initiate some sort of court action to assert that all the documents and records belonged to Clare. But Burke, once again, did nothing. Another costly mistake.
• Finally, in January 2019, Glazer provided the prosecution with a complete set of the documents and records that were covered by the new subpoena. Thereafter, the prosecution immediately began the privilege review process it had previously established for all the evidence it collected in the case.
In its latest filing, the prosecution underscored that Clare and Burke had not done anything to try and regain control of the documents and records from the storage unit: “The government is not aware of any attempt by Burke or Bronfman, by formal demand letter, court order, or otherwise, to gain custody of the records in the storage unit, either from the storage facility or from the leaseholder’s counsel, once they were in the leaseholder’s counsel’s office”.
So, what the hell happened here – and why did Clare and Burke not do anything to regain control of the contents of the storage unit?
Were they hoping to bait the prosecution into taking possession of the materials in a way that would violate Clare’s Fourth Amendment rights against “unreasonable search and seizure”?
If so, that was a major blunder because by allowing this to play out the way that it did, Clare and Burke removed any Fourth Amendment arguments that may have been raised on her behalf.
That’s because the Fourth Amendment will not apply in this situation for the following reasons:
(1) Clare had no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the records in the storage unit;
(2) Information that is voluntarily disclosed to a third party is not protected by the Fourth Amendment;
(3) Corporations – and their directors, officers and shareholders – are not protected by the Fourth Amendment; and
(4) An improper search conducted by a third party does not violate the Fourth Amendment unless the third party was acting as an agent of the government at the time of the search.
So, just why is the Storage Wars battle so important?
Allow me to speculate…
If the government found some very damning evidence against Clare in the storage unit boxes, it would undoubtedly want to use that evidence to bring additional charges against her.
But until Judge Garaufis issues a ruling on the admissibility of any such evidence, it would be premature to bring any such new charges.
Judge Garaufis now has the issue before him as to the admissibility of the evidence from the storage unit and once he rules that it is admissible – which I believe he will do either before or at the next Status Conference on March 18th – then the prosecution will proceed to include new charges against Clare in the superseding indictment.
When Judge Garaufis reviews all the filings with respect to this matter, he’s going to see that Clare’s attorneys have left out some key facts in terms of what happened. And he’s going to see that both the prosecution – and Neil Glazer – proceeded with an abundance of caution regarding the contents of the storage unit.
Failing to take any affirmative steps to gain possession of the storage unit contents – and hoping that the prosecution and/or Glazer would do something inappropriate or untoward regarding those materials – may have seemed like a brilliant plan at the time.
But assuming that your adversary will act in devious and illegal ways just because you’re willing to do so is never a good strategy – especially not in this case.
Note to Dennis Burke: Be sure your malpractice insurance is fully-paid up and current because Raniere and his cohorts do not look upon failure very kindly. Especially when that failure was so avoidable.
Note to Clare Bronfman: That bright light that you keep seeing off in the distance is not the sun rising up at odd hours of the day. It’s the Superseding Indictment Train that’s about to run you over.
Maybe it’s time to get off the track, Clare, before that train arrives…