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Courtesy HBO. ALBANY — When Sarah Edmondson told an FBI agent in Albany on May 30, , that she and other women had been blackmailed and branded in a Saratoga County townhouse, and that more brandings of female "slaves" were expected to take place the following week, she thought it would lead to a raid. There was no raid. As far as Edmondson knows, there wasn't even any follow-up. She was able to prevent some of the subsequent brandings by dissuading women she knew had been approached about taking part, but Edmondson believes a group of NXIVM members from Mexico went through the ritual in Halfmoon in the days that followed her visit to the FBI.
She had become the latest in a long line of whistleblowers who over the years begged law enforcement in the Capital Region to investigate Raniere only to be ignored — or, in some cases, to face criminal charges themselves. Raniere was tried and convicted in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn, more than miles from the suburban enclave where Edmondson was branded by a cauterizing tool with a symbol that included Raniere's initials.
Now 60, Raniere will be sentenced Tuesday after his conviction on sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering charges. Raniere's trial included testimony and evidence showing he kept pornographic images of a year-old girl with whom he had a sexual relationship. As he faces a possible life sentence from Senior U. Timeline of coverage of Keith Raniere and his organization. Edmondson had been branded just a few months earlier by Danielle Roberts, a Clifton Park osteopath, inside the home of actress Allison Mack, a "first-line" DOS member who was later charged alongside Raniere.
The Eastern District, which extends from Staten Island to the tip of Long Island, pursued the case after federal and state law enforcement officials in Albany had declined to initiate an investigation. The federal prosecutors in the Eastern District invoked jurisdiction, in part, because some of Raniere's alleged victims were residents of Brooklyn.
Still, the charges against Raniere and his associates that emerged in the case alleged that most of the illegal conduct took place in New York's Northern District — the federal jurisdiction that encompasses the Capital Region, where NXIVM has had its headquarters since the late s and where Raniere has lived while cultivating his flock of followers. District Court in Brooklyn. They made her feel ashamed and they sent her away. Her wait for justice took a decade longer than Edmondson's. A successful financial planner from Troy, Bouchey left the organization along with eight other members in April after learning that Raniere was sleeping with several women on the company's executive board.
Within 18 hours, Bouchey said, she was served with papers accusing her of extortion, a criminal charge that was never brought against her. Her lawyer made a phone call and learned that Raniere himself was under federal investigation for possible tax evasion and other financial crimes, but those charges were never brought, either. Bouchey said that in , she learned that the attorney general's office was investigating Raniere for possible charities fraud and also examining Rainbow Cultural Gardens, a NXIVM program that claimed to immerse children in nine languages at the same time.
Bouchey said she worked for three months with the head of the office's charities division. The probe ended with no action. A spokesperson for the attorney general's office would not respond to questions about Bouchey's outreach, which was made during the tenure of Eric Schneiderman. He reed in May after facing allegations he physically abused women. She responded by asking the agents how NXIVM's hacking into the bank s of federal judges would constitute her bickering with Raniere. One agent, she said, argued they didn't know for sure if that would be a crime — it might depend on NXIVM's intent.
Bouchey recalls saying, "Could there be anything good out of hacking into a federal judge's bank ? Sarah Ruane, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Albany Field Office, said in an that the bureau "diligently investigates any allegations or claims reported to our office. She said she could not comment about the field office's specific handling of the Raniere case but said it provided assistance to FBI colleagues in the New York City office, including "multiple FBI Albany investigative squ and our evidence response team during several operations involving court-authorized activity in connection with the case.
Richard Hartunian, who served as U. Attorney for the Northern District from until June , referred questions to the current office. It's led by Acting U. Attorney Antoinette Bacon, who arrived last month. Attorney Michael Barnett, a spokesman for the Northern District office, in a statement. We congratulate the team that secured Mr. They suspected it was because NXIVM had allied themselves, legally and politically, with powerful people. In , we all just thought to ourselves they just don't want to do anything. Too many fingers got smudged or something, and it was a mystery to all of us.
Bruno, a Brunswick Republican and one of the three most powerful people in state government until his retirement in Unlike Bruno, whom the U. Casey said he was "absolutely shocked and disgusted at what I have seen of this organization. Behind the scenes, there was an awful lot of stuff. Natalie said she ed a State Police investigator photos of a year-old girl she believed Raniere was pursuing on Facebook. A computer trespassing case was brought in Albany County and later dismissed.
When asked about the New York State Police's response — or lack thereof — to allegations reported to them about Raniere and NXIVM, spokesman Beau Duffy said in an : "As a matter of practice, we do not confirm or deny that we conducted past investigations of an individual, except when criminal charges are filed. Three months later, then-County Judge Thomas Breslin dismissed the case. He said Salzman, Bronfman, Keeffe and NXIVM's lawyers insisted he meet with them at unscheduled times and that "when we were told they were coming, it was almost as if we had to drop everything.
Soares had ly allowed Keeffe — at the time a member of Raniere's inner circle — to work for weeks in his financial crimes office to help build the case against O'Hara. Asked about that arrangement, Soares spokeswoman Cecilia Walsh said in an that the case against O'Hara "was ultimately dismissed and we did not seek to re-indict. At that time, there were no allegations of any type of sexual misconduct or 'branding' that we now know occurred in other jurisdictions.
In fact, there were never any allegations, criminal referrals, or complaints from victims against NXIVM for conduct in Albany County made to our office. At Raniere's trial, she noted, testimony showed that Soares' name was among the people, including Bruno, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram Co.
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A senior member of NXIVM told the FBI about blackmail and branding. The response? 'Nothing.'