Clare and Sara Bronfman foot the legal bills for NXIVM’s abusive litigation.
Justice for the wealthy.
Backed by Seagram heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, NXIVM hired attorney Paul DerOhannesian II to pursue further litigation efforts against Joe O’Hara and Toni Natalie – this time over the return of their computers.
In a January 10th letter, DerOhannesian asked Judge Roger D. McDonough to order O’Hara and Natalie to return the computers that the New York State Police (NYSP) seized from them in 2013, and returned to them a month ago.
The criminal case against O’Hara and Natalie was dismissed, all charges against them dropped, and the case closed on August 10, 2016.
On January 17, 2018, Judge McDonough issued a ruling which O’Hara and Natalie see as ominous.
Natalie and O’Hara hoped Judge McDonough would have notified DerOhannesian that, by ‘black letter law,’ an alleged victim [NXIVM] has ZERO standing to intervene in a criminal case that was dismissed and officially closed.
Instead, unhappily for them, Judge McDonough seems to have left the door open for NXIVM by informing DerOhannesian that “…any re-opening of the case would require formal motion practice citing specific case law or a statutory justification for the re-opening of a criminal matter”.
It is true that no such case law or statutory justification likely exists anywhere to argue that an alleged victim of a crime has standing to prevent innocent citizens, cleared of all charges, from getting their seized property returned.
In any other legal setting, this would be a forgone conclusion.
But in the legal abuse syndrome-fraught world of Keith Raniere, he can now pay DerOhannesian to come up with some [any] legal theory [however absurd, far fetched, or unlikely to prevail] that will force O’Hara and Natalie back into court -– where, at this point, they are representing themselves.
It will be interesting to see the flurry of papers DerOhannesian shuttles out of his office to try to wear down and bury O’Hara and Natalie, who have been tortured by this bogus case since 2012.
O’Hara has complained for months now that the only party that conceivably has legal standing to challenge the return of the computers was the Albany County District Attorney, which was the prosecuting party in the case.
Despite his complaints – and despite the fact that Albany County has not appeared before Judge McDonough – first, the NYSP and now, NXIVM – have been allowed to raise questions to Judge McDonough, thereby delaying the return of the computers to O’Hara and Natalie.
You would think simple justice would weigh in their favor: they have undergone enough trial and tribulations. The attempt at prosecution started out in 2012 in Saratoga County. But then-Saratoga County District Attorney, James Murphy, and the New York State Attorney General refused to bring charges against O’Hara and Natalie.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares declined to pursue the case because of a “conflict of interest” but arranged to have Holly A. Trexler [a former employee of his who was then in private practice] appointed as Special District Attorney to prosecute the matter. NXIVM’s attorney, Michael McDermott, was also a former employee of Soares and, ironically, a former supervisor of Trexler.
Trexler indicted O’Hara and Natalie and they were arrested. Two years later – after much torment and expense, the criminal case was dismissed after the defense team discovered and made it clear to the prosecution they had evidence that Clare Bronfman had lied about NXIVM’s computer server being located in Albany County. The prosecution would either have to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction or go to trial suborning Bronfman’s perjury.
Special District Attorney Trexler chose to dismiss all charges.
Now two years later, O’Hara and Natalie are still fighting for the return of their computers – which normally would have been returned when the case was dismissed.
O’Hara and Natalie cited language from the dismissal agreements signed almost two years ago to underscore why they are entitled to get their computers back. That language reads: “Upon dismissal of the action, the arrest and prosecution shall be deemed a nullity and I shall be restored to the status I occupied before my arrest or prosecution.”
In addition to the language in their dismissal agreements, O’Hara and Natalie also cited New York State statutes to bolster their argument that their computers should have been restored to them as soon as the charges against them were dismissed:
- “No person shall suffer any disability or forfeiture as a result of such an order. Upon the dismissal of the accusatory instrument pursuant to this section, the arrest and prosecution shall be deemed a nullity and the defendant shall be restored, in contemplation of law, to the status he occupied before his arrest and prosecution” (N.Y. Criminal Procedure Law 160.50).
Despite the latest developments, O’Hara said he was confident that he and Natalie would eventually prevail.
“This is one of those unusual situations where the facts are on our side, the statutory language is on our side, and the case law is on our side”, he said. “Although that may not be enough to prevent NXIVM from asserting some new baseless claims, it will most certainly be enough for us to prevail on the merits”.
Natalie added that she was anxious to get back her computer which, among other things, contains pictures of her parents, both of whom died during the course of this unusual prosecution against her and O’Hara.
“It still amazes me the things that Keith will do to try and harm me and other people he considers to be his enemies”, Natalie said. “And I’m just as amazed by what some courts will allow him to get away with as he continues to uses the legal system as a stalking device”.
Judge McDonough is not the first judge in this long and extremely disturbing case. The original judge was Stephen W. Herrick. When he retired, the case was assigned to Judge William Carter. When Judge Carter declined to take the case, it was assigned to Judge Peter Lynch, who recused himself because of a conflict-of- interest. (He had previously served as one of NXIVM’s attorneys). The case was then assigned to Judge Thomas Breslin, who also declined to handle it. It was finally assigned to Judge McDonough.
The case screams for a public corruption investigation and, for all we know, one may be underway.