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Photos and emails take up final days of testimony as Nxivm trial wraps up

[Attorney Paul DerOhannesian]

It’s hard to believe the Nxivm trial is wrapping up already. Today we have for you Dianne Lipson’s report on Thursday’s testimony. As we said when the trial started, the defense planned to call no witnesses, and Keith Raniere himself would not be testifying. Dianne said she’d be giving us a report later on Friday’s doings in court, as well as a Saturday court conference. Here’s her impression of Thursday’s session…

Thursday started with more direct testimony from FBI Agent Brian Booth, IT specialist and Senior Forensic Examiner. We have still not reviewed the contents of one of the folders on Keith’s hard drive. The day before, the witness had shown metadata indicating that the images were from November 2005, (when Camila would have been 15 years old.) These images were published only to the jury. A woman from the government team stood in front of the jury box, showing hard copies of the images. The jury members’ expressions were intent and serious as image after image was shown. One’s woman’s mouth hung open, as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. When I looked at Keith, his head was down and he was writing furiously.

Once again we were shown a form of metadata called exif. The exif data showed that the images were created November 2, 2005 and November 24, 2005. Exif metadata had been explained to us as the most reliable of the different types of metadata. Agent Booth said the time sequence between the photos was sporadic, therefore there didn’t seem to be a timer involved.

Cross was conducted by Paul DerOhannesian. This is only the second time DerOhannesian has done cross examination. He asked many questions about the chain of custody of the evidence. He said you want to be very careful, because digital evidence can be altered, damaged, or destroyed through improper handling. He asked if special precautions were taken with this evidence. The agent said it was only examined by himself and a trainee. DerOhannesian: Were you involved in collecting these devices? Agent Booth: No. DerOhannesian: You didn’t collect the evidence from the scene? Agent Booth: No I did not. DerOhannesian: Are you involved in preserving this evidence? Agent Booth: Yes. DerOhannesian: Are you involved in analyzing this evidence? Agent Booth: Yes. DerOhannesian: Are you involved in reporting on this evidence: Yes. DerOhannesian: Are you involved in placing evidence in the bag, and tagging it? Agent Booth: Yes. Booth explained that his colleagues are in high demand all over the globe. The agent who was involved in some of the initial handling of the devices is currently in Ghana.

The questioning continued in this painstaking repetitive fashion. Agent Booth testified that the box containing the Canon camera, inside its case, had been unsealed because it had been used the day before in court. Agent Booth did not have his notes to say exactly when it had been unsealed. DerOhannesian asked if Weniger had a property receipt for the evidence, but the agent had not brought his notes to refer to. DerOhannesian asked many questions about each piece of evidence; the camera, the card from the camera, and the hard drive. There had been a Dell computer associated with the hard drive, but it was not found. There were many questions about who looked at the evidence. There was much discussion about timestamps put on the sealed bags or boxes of evidence.


Because the Dell computer was not available, Agent Booth did not know the operating system or what security software software was involved. Copying and backups could affect metadata. DerOhannesian asked if there were any anomalies in the thumb database, a form of metadata. DerOhannesian went through the ‘created’, ‘modified’, and ‘accessed’ dates of the images using a type of metadata. He showed file after file after file that showed that creation dates of some of the images might be as late as 2010.

This testimony went on for at least an hour, and it was as tedious as it sounds.

After lunch, Agent Booth now had his notes (rushed over from One Federal Plaza) and he answered questions about the handling of the physical evidence. Next, DerOhannesiann moved on to the metadata. For files last accessed in 2018, he asked if Booth knew who had accessed this data. DerOhannesian: Based on your examination, do you have any digital evidence that the defendant knew the contents of any of the evidence? Booth: I don’t know Mr. Raniere. I don’t know what he knows. DerOhannesian: Do you know the identity of anyone who took the images? Booth: I do not know. DerOhannesian: You don’t know the identity of the person behind the camera? Booth: No.

On re-direct, government Attorney Hajjar pointed out that in all his questioning about the metadata, DerOhannesian did not once ask about the Exif metadata. Booth again went over how Exif data was embedded in the file; it is hard coded in. Time and date information on Exif data does not change when you move the file around. It does not change even if you move the file from a windows PC to a Mac. Exif data is the most reliable of all the different kinds of metadata. More reliable than the type metadata that DerOhannesian had presented, regarding ‘created,’ ‘accessed’, and ‘modified’ date information. Exif data is extremely difficult to change, and doing so can destroy the image. DerOhannesian had gone through the ‘created’, ‘modified’ and ‘accessed’ dates for each of the files, but he had not used Exif data. Hajjar once again showed the Exif data for the images, which showed creation dates of November 2, 2005, or November 26, 2005. Booth pointed out that the folder names also reflected the date of the images.

On re-cross, DerOhannesian: Do you agree that any metadata can be changed? Booth: Yes. DerOhannesian: Are there a variety of ways that can happen? Booth: Yes. DerOhannesian said that Facebook strips off the data from images.

Re-direct, Hajjar: Did these images come from Facebook? Booth: No. Hajjar: Where did they come from. Booth: From the Canon camera.

The next witness was FBI agent Michael Weniger. In the military Weniger had worked as a prosecutor for JAG. But he always planned to work for the FBI. He has been working on the Nxivm investigation since October 2017. He did not participate in the search of Nancy Salzman’s house. His wife was due to give birth, and he was under strict orders to be within 2 hours of the hospital.

Penza showed PowerPoint slides of the contents of the plastic box found in Nancy’s house, which contained files regarding enemies of Nxivm. These files were put into categories on the PowerPoint slides. In the category of ‘Local press,’ the first 4 names were from the Albany Times Union. National press included 3 names from Forbes Magazine. For ‘Politics,’ Joe Bruno, Chuck Schumer, Elliot Spitzer and Roger Stone, among others. There were judges who oversaw cases involving Nxivm. Of course we saw the names of Rick Ross, Edgar Bronfman, Stephen Herbits, and the World Jewish Congress. We saw Kristen Snyder. It appeared that they had obtained police files on Kristen Snyder. Yuri Plyam. Plyam had been involved in litigation with Nxivm. Also David Touretzky of Carnegie Mellon University, a name familiar to Scientology-watchers. Tony Natalie was on the list, a hard copy of the Forbes Magazine article was shown where Toni said that she believed Keith had brainwashed her. And Carlos Rueda, a psychologist who had treated ex-Nxians.

The FBI had got search warrants for two emails. which belonged to Emiliano Salinas and Kristin Keeffe. We were shown email communications between them. Keeffe used this email to obtain information from Canaprobe, the PI company Nxivm was using. An email from Mr. Marier, head of Canaprobe, stated that attempts to verify this information may compromise their investigations. (Canaprobe perpetrated a fraud on Nxivm. They gave Nxivm bogus information.) Clare Bronfman paid Canaprobe. An email of an invoice said that no hard copy would be mailed. Agent Weniger stated that Clare paid upwards of $400,000 in total to Canaprobe.

At the same time as Canaprobe was investgating for Nxivm, a Mexican PI firm was hired to verify info provided by Canaprobe. Requests were sent from Keeffe to Emiliano, to two more persons. Then responses were sent back up the chain. These layers of communication seemed designed to make it hard to penetrate the source of the requests.

There were indications through emails that Keith was aware of Canaprobe’s investigations.

There was an email from Emiliano to Kristin Keeffe: We are trying to get a judicial order in Mexico on the Rick Ross case.” There was an email regarding news from “Richard” (Richard Marier, of Canaprobe), about our “Resort-hopping friend” (code for Kristen Snyder.) They thought Kristen Snyder was alive and moving from place to place.

Some of the emails reflect a high level of paranoia. Keeffe was suspicious of the local Homeowner’s association. She thought they were taking pictures through her windows. She was suspicious of strange cars, and strange people.

In the manner of organized crime, coded language was used in the emails. There were references to ‘cooking’ and having a ‘Mexican chef.’

Kristin Keeffe was head of Legal for Nxivm, and the legal department actions were reported to Keith.

After Keeffe left Nxivm, a photo of her was forwarded by Clare to Mr. Olmedo Gaxiola, a Mexican lawyer, stating ‘this is what she looks like.’ Pictures of Toni Natalie and Barbara Bouchey were sent to this lawyer as well.

There were email chains showing that Keith’s advice was sought by Clare regarding her relationship with her father, Edgar Bronfman. There was a forward from Nancy to Keith of an email Edgar had sent to Clare. Clare had sought Nancy’s advice about a proposed response she had written to her father’s email, and Nancy sought Keith’s input. From Edgar’s email: “I don’t know what you’re up to, but it is very destructive. . . . You think that you are doing God’s work in trying to get me back to ‘The Course’ . . . I don’t trust where Nancy is coming from . . . I will not renew my studies with her, nor will I shill for her. . . . There seems to be a conspiracy to turn me away from Jan [Edgar’s wife]. This will not happen . . . I’m busy [with] my book, [on the] Jewish future. I care enormously about the Jewish future . . . I regret our inability to have a relationship. I nonetheless love you.”

From Clare’s proposed response: “I find it interesting how you persistently come up with ways to blame Nancy and punish Sara and I. . . . You are correct Dad, you are a man writing a book to try to make a difference, not a father. . . . I am a woman trying to leave the world a better place . . . and I am living that example. If you should choose to apologise and treat me like a human being, and/or daughter I look forward to having a relationship with you.” Clare forwarded Edgar’s email, and her proposed response, to Nancy. Clare wrote to Nancy: “I also want to thank you Nancy, I would be a mess right now if it was not for your help.” Nancy forwarded the whole thing to Keith, writing: “My Darling Vanguard, I received this from Clare after no communication since her last visit. I am at a loss. What do you think. . . . Love and kisses in all the right places! Your P. [for Prefect]”

In another email from Edgar to Clare, that Clare forwarded to Nancy, then Nancy forwarded to Keith, Edgar writes [email in dropbox], “this claim of saving the world is extreme and not credible. . . A group led by two people who call themselves Vanguard and Prefect certainly sounds like a cult. . . . I am not sure whether or not Nancy was aware of our meeting, and whether or not she’s guiding you in your in your relationship with me.” There were other emails showing that Clare reported interactions with her father, to Keith. Clare also sent Keith emails between her and Stephen Herbits, Edgar Bronfman’s assistant.

In an email from Clare to Keith, Clare laments, [email is in dropbox] “I will never know the extent of the damage I have caused to my father, myself, you, Nancy, the organisation, or the world. . . . I would really appreciate your help in starting to try to heal the damage. I would like to apologise.” Keith replies with Nxivm jargon, “Your father would need to come to terms with how his postulates and actions in general relate to the rest of his life and position. . . . I will help you as much as I can. You may want to understand ‘speaking with honor’ and ‘thought objects’ better. Ask Michelle or Nancy to help you better understand these things and how they relate to ethical breaches. Hope all is well on your end of the horse! Love Keith”

There is an email from Loreta Garza with references to prosecutor’s offices. Agent Weniger felt that these were efforts to have Nxivm’s enemies indicted.

Some emails from Keith were forwards to himself. He was forwarding emails from one of his email accounts, to his email at ProtonMail. ProtonMail originates from overseas, and is very hard for law enforcement to acquire. Law enforcement can’t get information from ProtonMail. Some of these email were in regard to the DOS book. Others had info regarding collateral. The emails referenced levels of collateral such as losing an important comfort, limitations of options temporarily, and limitation of options permanently. In one email forwarded to ProtonMail, Allison writes to Keith, “I have found such ‘vow’lue from all of this and would love to do whatever I can to push it”. Keith replies to Allison, “Does India know to complete her she needs to take all her clothes off, while I am clothed, most revealing way, and have me take a picture of her, with her phone, to be immediately as a proof?”

There was another forwarded email chain from Allison Mack, saying she is not sure what to do about Nicole. ‘Part of me wants to let her go, she seems so unhappy, like we are killing her dreams.’ ‘She refuses to change her perspective.’ Allison thinks that may be her (Allison’s) fault. Allison lists possible options, some of which were: Spend time with her. Be hard on her. Let her out. Back off. One of the forwards to ProtonMail is an email chain between Michelle and Allison with a list of her collateral. These include a letter with child abuse accusations, A letter turning over the Berkshire house, and nude photos. There was also a list of submitted but not approved collateral from Suki, Michelle’s slave. These were: renunciation of her inheritance, and a letter with sex abuse allegations. Michelle indicates that she told Suki that Suki still owes 5 more pieces of collateral. There was an email from Rosa Laura regarding the girl’s school she was starting. (for the Mexican teen girls from Chihuahua.) In one email to Keith, Allison gushes, “I am so grateful to you, . . . because I have YOU as my master” She signs the email “your eternal slave. A.” Also an email from Allison to Keith and another recipient stating, “i wanted to reach out to you both and thank you this morning. . . . i am new to this: to being with more than one person. . . . The unconventional approach to love and relationships is something I still wrestle with . . . i am so glad to be tied to you for life. . . . I love that i smell like a mixture of you both. ‘From wrong lead me to right. from darkness lead me to light. from death lead me to immortality.’ within the shackles of commitment i find the greatest freedom of all. true love.”

There as a disturbing email from Rosa Laura to Keith regarding Rosa Laura’s daughter. The email begins, “Hello M [for Master]” It says, in part, “I humbly share this because it may be affecting Lauris / keeping her away from you. If I don’t experience my commitment to you joyfully, I cannot genuinely projectively want that for my daughter, and she probably feels that. . . . I am 100 percent clear that you are what I want for my daughter (and obviously for myself).” Has Keith asked for an intimate relationship with Rosa Laura’s daughter, who Agent Weniger believes was a teen? It is not clear in the letter.

End of Day 22.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 15, 2019 at 12:55

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects at The Underground Bunker. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


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