This is the final report regarding the cross-examination of Daniela by Marc Agnifilo. In all, the cross-examination lasted for several hours – and stretched from the afternoon on May 30th to the afternoon of May 31st.
Based on the transcript, it appears that Agnifilo’s primary objective with respect to Dani was to portray her as an untrustworthy person: e.g., someone who would lie; someone who would steal from others; someone who said and wrote things that weren’t true; someone who would enter the U.S. illegally; someone who would make up a fake ID for her sister; etc. And while he did get her to admit that she did all those things, she did not come off as untrustworthy.
Instead, she came off as someone who had been traumatized – and who did what she needed to do to survive. Nothing that Agnifilo got her to admit was disqualifying in terms of the jury believing her overall story.
Here, we report on the cross-examination that took place on Friday, May 31st.
Agnifilo started the day off by trying to get Dani to admit that the “special friend” that had been mentioned in an email exchange between her and Kristin Keeffe might have been Leonardo, one of her former classmates, who apparently has some hacking skills. .
But although she admitted being in contact with Leonardo, she maintained that she was not sure if he was the “special friend” mentioned in the email. .
He then asked her about the various email accounts that she tried to hack into – and made her walk through all the steps involved in the process.
She confirmed that, as directed by Keith Raniere, she tried to hack into Joe O’Hara’s email.
But she claimed that she was never able to do so because O’Hara never opened any of the emails that contained the embedded key logger that would allow her to access everything on his computer.
[In conjunction with the criminal computer trespass case that was initiated against O’Hara, Toni Natalie, and John Tighe in early 2014, Albany County eventually turned over materials that had clearly been taken off O’Hara’s computer. Thus, it appears that Raniere eventually got someone else to hack into it].
She also admitted that she was the one who prepared the key logger that was used to hack into Edgar Bronfman Sr.’s computer.
That one was successful in large part because the email that contained the embedded key logger was sent to Edgar by his daughter, Clare (Clare actually made a special trip to New York City to open up that email for her father).
For all of her hacking attempts, Dani would go somewhere that had public Wi-Fi available.
Q – Describe to the jury what’s the importance of using a public Wi-Fi when doing this?
A – Public — the importance of using a public Wi-Fi was so that it could not be traced back to my Wi-Fi. So any kind of internet connection can be traced to an IP address. So, obviously, if I’m going to connect from the same IP address and it’s my home address, that can be traced back. So since this was a hacking, I didn’t want it to get back to me so I was using either public Wi-Fi or just similar Wi-Fi even if it wasn’t public, say, for example, in a library where it takes a password but just not my own.
She was driven to a variety of locations that offered public Wi-Fi by Kristin, Karen Unterreiner and her brother, Adrian.
Agnifilo then tried to get Dani to admit that she had hacked into Marianna’s email account.
Q – Now, you said at one point that you hacked into your older sister Marianna’s e-mail account, correct?
A – I, I don’t think that’s correct.
Q – Tell us what did you do with Marianna and hacking?
A – I don’t — I may have. I don’t remember if I actually was able to get into her e-mail account. I hacked into her Facebook account as I said before.
She went on to explain that when she hacked into Marianna’s Facebook account, she discovered that Marianna was accessing Raniere’s email account.
During another question/answer exchange with Agnifilo, Dani revealed that Raniere had somehow obtained access to Kristin Snyder’s email account – and that he was reading the emails in it.
She also testified that she provided Raniere with the materials that she obtained off the computers of Edgar Bronfman. Sr. and Jim Loperfido.
Dani, whose nickname was “BoBo”, often referred to other members of NXIVM by their nicknames.
Karen Unterreiner was “Gozer”.
Adrian was “Fluffy”.
Marianna was “Marvy”.
And Raniere was, of course, “Vanguard”.
In the midst of all the discussions about computer hacking, Agnifilo suddenly started asking new questions about her “relationship” with Ben Myers.
Given that Myers apparently did a lot of computer hacking for Raniere, that transition actually made some sense.
But Agnifilo’s purpose was to try and get Dani to admit that she knew Myers was in a long-term relationship with [Name Redacted] when she first got involved with him.
Q – All right. I want to talk for a moment about this Ben Myers stuff. You and Ben Myers started moving in the direction of having a relationship at some point in 2006, correct?
A – That’s one way to put it, yes.
Q – How would you put it?
A – It’s one way to put it, yes.
Q – Is there a better way to put it?
A – That’s a good way to put it. Let’s put it that way.
Q – Okay. And you and he were having communications, written communications with each other in October of 2006, correct, among other times?
A – We had — yes, I believe so.
Q – And who is [Name Redacted]?
A – A student of ESP.
Q – And did Ben Myers and [Name Redacted] have a relationship of some sort?
A – Yes.
Q – And what was the nature of that relationship?
A – They were boyfriend and girlfriend.
Q – Were they engaged at some point?
A – I don’t know.
Q – And were they, were they boyfriend and girlfriend at the time that you started a relationship with Ben Myers?
A – No, not that I knew of.
Q – Did you find out later?
A – No, I don’t think I found out later.
Q – At some point, while you were having a relationship with Ben Myers, did you come to learn that Ben Myers was also having a relationship with [Name Redacted]?
A – I don’t remember.
Agnifilo seized on the “I don’t remember” answer – and tried to suggest she was lying. But Dani refused to admit that was the case – and would later go on to explain why her memory was unclear on many of the things that happened to her while she was involved with NXIVM.
A – I believe in that particular issue, as far as the relationship with Ben and Megan, Ben and Megan had a relationship before I had the very brief — I guess you could call it a relationship with Ben, and I believe they had a relationship after that, not for the few times that I was with Ben. So the issues that were being discussed with Keith — again, they were all overblown exaggerations of what he attributed to be my ethical breach which was just piling on to like all the damages he wanted to put on me.
But why was I having that conversation, which was precisely your question? Because I was increasingly confused and beaten up, both by his communications and the isolation and the coaching that I was receiving. So I, you know, was trying to at times humbly to find out what I need to do and what I had done wrong, but the truth is I hadn’t done anything wrong in that regard.
Ethical Breach Plan
Agnifilo then spent a lot of time having Dani describe the various components of her “Ethical Breach Plan”.
And while several of his questions resulted in her responding “I don’t remember”, he then made the mistake of giving her an open-ended question that she knocked out of the ballpark.
Q – So you were told to write and to fix your ethical breaches, correct?
A – Yes.
Q – And what ethical breaches did you understand those to be?
A – At that point, as I said, my ethical breach had morphed into ethical breaches and it was a snowball of ethical breaches. And what I understood was — was very little. I was very confused and pretty broken already. I had been isolated from people for a long time, and I — I — I think I thought I was bad and to some degree all the beat-ups had worked, but also I was very angry because I knew that really there was nothing that I could do because for so long I had been trying and everything was shut down and everything was just disregarded.
So you ask me now what I thought then what was my ethical breach, I would tell you I had no clue which was why the idea of the room and going in it until I fixed it was incredibly frightening.
Boom! That was the end of the questions about ethical breaches.
But Agnifilo had still not learned his lesson as he set up Dani for another slam-dunk later in the day.
And so, he introduced a letter that she had written to Raniere on January 1, 2010 – and began asking her questions about it.
At one point, Dani responded by saying “This is a complex situation. I could provide context to it if you like”.
And Agnifilo responded by telling her to go ahead and provide context.
As Dani’s answer clearly indicates, that was another bad move on Agnifilo’s part.
A – Okay.
So at this point, I have been — I had been talking to Keith for years via e-mail. I think you got a little bit of a taste of that. I haven’t gone through all of them, but that was the nature of the back and forth.
Then he sends me a final letter with this big instruction of what I need to do. Then my parents and Karen are on my program, and if this is so, this is a familiar situation, though again, I don’t remember what this exactly was tied to.
I wanted to go to Mexico it sounds like and then I’m talked out it. And then it’s heavily coaching. And then it’s a lot of just and you need to fix this, and you need to fix this, and then I probably write that after all of that.
The truth of the matter is, this letter, January 1st, 2010, I’m already very isolated from everybody. I have no possessions. I have nothing. I am very confused. I’m very angry. I’m pretty broken. So all of this is part of what I know I’m expected to say, I know I’m expected to feel, but also what I’m directly being told. You should fix your breach. You should write to Keith. You should stay here and do this. I think I explained most of that already. But this is a context to what I’m saying here.
So you asked me, oh, well, did you write this? Did you mean it? It’s not completely disingenuous in that I’m thinking, I’m sitting there and thinking, well, I don’t really want to do this, but I’m going to write that I do. It’s not that simple.
It’s a pretty complex situation where I am getting drilled from all sides about what I should be doing, what I have done, how bad I am. And then what I do with myself, and sometimes I went, you know, I gasped for air and maybe I wanted to leave, but there’s a tightly controlled environment around me. What you see this letter is a product of all of that. It’s not just a simple meditation by myself in complete freedom in deciding what to do.
Ouch! That context will kill you every time.
Back To Mexico
Agnifilo finished up the cross-examination by having Dani recount her return trip to Mexico – and what she did once she arrived there.
During this part of the cross-examination, we learned a few new tidbits:
– Dani got fired as Executive Assistant to a Hotel Manager in September 2012.
– Dani’s mother’s email address is TheInnerWitch@gmail.com.
– Dani developed a friendship with someone named DJ Padamadan while she was in Mexico.
– Dani has not spoken with Kristin Keeffe since the car trip to Mexico.
– Hector and Marianna came to visit Dani in July 2015.
– Dani ran a 16K race in October 2015.
– Dani has spoken to Mark Vicente 2-3 times in the last three years.
– Neil Glazer is Dani’s attorney — and he also represents Mark Vicente.
– Dani claims that she has “…no intention of bringing a civil lawsuit”.
But, having not done any major damage to Dani’s credibility, Agnifilo decided to take one more shot by having her read from another email she wrote to Raniere on June 12, 2012.
And that’s when he made the type of mistake that every law school student is warned about repeatedly: Never ask an opposing witness a question that you don’t know the answer to!
Q – So you write: I feel like a Hitler in a Gandhi suit. What was that supposed to mean?
A Yes. Ooh, this means the trauma inflicted on me over the last ten years or seven years, to be more fair, is something that I could not shed as soon as I crossed the border. It wasn’t immediate, the change. I think I explained that before, but I can explain it again.
This is such a painful e-mail because it is true, I was trying to be good and I was trying to build a life, but it wasn’t immediate. All of the garbage, all of the abuse, all of the manipulation was still inside me. All of the words he had said, all of the expectations I had of myself, that I thought others had of me traveled with me to my new destination and I don’t lose context of it. I have just been through years of intense abuse.
This is — this is not — none of these are complex — none of these are simple, just what an average person would read, oh, I’ve been thinking about you. This is the product of a small lifetime of manipulation. And here I’m fresh off the boat, I’m fresh into a new life and it carried with me.
So it’s so sad, all of this. I feel like a Hitler in a Gandhi suit. That means I am in this brand new life. I am doing all the right things. I’m treating people nicely, I’m getting a job, I’m doing all the things I want to do and I feel horrible. That is the lasting effect of what he did to me.
If Agnifilo is trying to ensure that Raniere will be able to appeal his conviction on the basis of ineffective counsel, he’s doing a hell of a good job.
If that’s not his intention, then WTF?
The last thing that Agnifilo did was ask Dani if she expected to be prosecuted for any of her criminal acts.
The specific acts that he cited were:
– Illegally entering the U.S. in 2004;
– Creating a fake Mexican ID for Cami; and
– Hacking into several email accounts.
She responded that she had no idea what might happen to her.
Moira Penza spent a minute or two asking Dani a few questions on re-direct.
Dani’s answers to those questions were as follows:
– I met with the FBI voluntarily.
– I was not subpoenaed to testify in this case but came here voluntarily.
– The government has not made any promises to me any time.
– I chose to testify in this case in order to obtain justice for me and my family.
And just like that, Dani was walking out of the courtroom – and headed back to the very successful life she has built for herself since leaving Raniere and NXIVM.