Today’ Status Conference will be the first time that the remaining defendants in the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al case will have seen one another since learning that their former co-defendant, Nancy Salzman, has pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy and two predicate acts: i.e., conspiracy to commit identity theft and conspiracy to alter records used in an official proceeding.
Needless to say, the interactions between/among Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman, and Kathy Russell should be fascinating.
So, while we await the outcome of the Status Conference, let’s look at a few of the new issues that have cropped in the case.
RE: Expert Witnesses
As Frank Report readers will recall, the prosecution announced several weeks ago that it was going to call famed psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner as an expert witness in the case.
According to the prosecution’s filing, Dr. Welner was going to testify about how the actions of Raniere and his co-defendants compare to the practices of other cult-like groups and how such actions facilitate financial and sexual exploitation.
Now comes word from the prosecution that it is in the process of retaining two other expert witnesses – Dr. Stuart Grassian and Dr. Dawn Hughes – to testify in lieu of Dr. Welner (We’ll have more information about these two new expert witnesses in a later post).
Dr. Grassian would provide testimony on the topic of social isolation – and Dr. Hughes would provide testimony on the behavior of victims of sex crimes.
The prosecution also announced that it was still seeking to hire at least one other expert witness to testify regarding the health effects of extreme calorie restriction and sleep deprivation.
The defense was quick to respond with a whiny letter to the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, in which it noted that the prosecution’s proposal was made after the deadline for it to name its expert witnesses – and asked the judge to preclude Dr. Grassian and Dr. Hughes from testifying at all.
Once again, in what is rapidly turning into a very one-sided battle in which the prosecution has a storehouse of nuclear weapons to use during the trial, the defense attorneys are left with nothing but pebbles to throw back in opposition.
It’s kind of like David versus Goliath – but this time, David doesn’t even have a sling-shot
Is The Prosecution Team Adding Another Member?
Although no formal “Notice of Appearance” has yet to be filed, it appears that the prosecution team may be adding another member to its team.
At last Thursday’s evidentiary hearing before Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon, the AUSAs who were in attendance included Moira Kim Penza, Mark Lesko, and Shannon Jones.
According to her LinkedIn account, Jones has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for more than 15 years – and is currently a member of Business and Securities Fraud Section. She is also listed as a Senior Trial Counsel – and as the Deputy Chief for Health Care Fraud.
Defense Continues To Focus On Suppressing Evidence
Apparently, the defense attorneys representing Raniere, Bronfman, Mack, Russell and Lauren Salzman are in agreement with David Stern, Nancy Salzman’s lead attorney, who informed Judge Garaufis that he did not believe there was “any viable defense” to the pending charges against his client.
Perhaps that’s why all the recent filings by the other attorneys have focused almost exclusively on requesting that Judge Garaufis suppress evidence that the prosecution wants to use at trial.
Based on their most recent filings, it appears that the defense attorneys have decided to put most, if not all, of their eggs in the “Suppress The Evidence” basket.
In doing so, they’ve left themselves with a limited number of arguments that can be raised to keep the jury from seeing the evidence that the prosecution plans to show it during the upcoming trial in the case.
Basically, these are the arguments that the defense attorneys can raise as they try to convince Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis not to allow the prosecution to use all the evidence it obtained via three search warrants:
• The affidavits that were used to obtain the search warrants were flawed: e.g., they contained material errors and omissions;
• The search warrants themselves were flawed: e.g., they were too broad and/or they included items that are unrelated to any matter that was under investigation at the time they were issued;
• The search warrants were improperly executed: e.g., the FBI agents looked in places that were not covered by the search warrants and/or seized items that were not listed on the search warrants;
• The seized materials include items that the prosecution is not allowed to see: e.g., materials that are subject to attorney/client privilege; and
• The materials that were seized have not been properly maintained by the prosecution.
The battle over what evidence can be used at the trial is expected to come up at today’s Status Conference. And if the defense loses this battle, we may see more defendants taking guilty pleas in the not too distant future.