Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar filed a letter yesterday with US District Judge Nicholas G. Garuafis advising that she “received a report that Suneel Chakravorty, an associate of defendant Keith Raniere’s, is in possession of electronic discovery materials, including a copy of a hard drive that was produced to defense counsel pursuant to the Protective Order,”
The copy of the hard drive in question was apparently made from the Western Digital hard drive that was seized from Raniere’s library by the FBI on March 27, 2018. The jury found it “proven” that on that hard drive were 22 photos taken of a Jane Doe victim, known as Camila, when she was 15, and that Raniere, therefore, possessed child pornography. Because they determined Raniere took the photos, they also found that he sexually exploited the child.
Those were two of the predicate acts regarding his racketeering charge.
For more than a year, Chakravorty has maintained that the Camila photos were tampered with by the FBI. Raniere is expected to file a motion for a new trial based on this assertion purportedly providing “newly discovered” evidence.
Chakravorty has been given a power-of-attorney by Raniere, Frank Report has learned.
The copy of the hard drive provided by the prosecution to the defense does not have Camila’s photos on it since it is illegal to possess child porn even by defense lawyers defending a child porn case. Hajjar is not alleging Chakravorty is in illegal possession of child porn.
Hajjar advised the judge that if Chakravorty has the hard drive, one of the attorneys would have improperly shared it with him.
She wrote to the judge, “All current and former counsel of record in this case have signed the Protective Order and agreed to abide by its terms…As the Court is aware, much of the discovery material in this case is sensitive and contains personally identifying information regarding individuals other than the defendants.”
The protective order requires the defense counsel not to disclose, share or disseminate “any discovery materials provided to the defendant except to defense staff directly employed by defense counsel, subject to defense counsel’s supervision, and only after such staff have reviewed the terms of the Protective Order and signed the order.”
Hajjar is also asking the judge to order Raniere attorneys to provide a list of individuals who have been given electronic discovery materials produced by the government and to have them return them to the defense attorneys.
When reached for comment, Chakravorty told Frank Report that he does not have a copy of the hard drive or any electronic discovery materials containing nudity and that he has never possessed them.
“I don’t have a copy of the hard drive because I did not sign the protective order.” Chakravorty said, “I declined to sign because I want to be free to investigate and retain experts without being gagged by the order.”
Chakravorty told Frank Report that forensic experts are in possession of copies of the hard drive and other electronic discovery materials produced by the government and that these experts signed the protective order as required by Raniere’s attorneys before they were provided the materials.
It is not known if the judge will order the forensic experts to return the material to Raniere’s attorneys or whether, because they have used or may still be using these to analyze potential tampering of evidence, they will be permitted to retain the materials to complete their investigation.
In seeking to learn if any of Raniere’s attorneys, past or present, handed protected materials to Chakravorty without getting his signature on the protective order, Hajjar disclosed that she had contacted Raniere’s “current counsel of record,” Marc A. Fernich, and Jeffrey H. Lichtman, “who have represented that they have not provided Mr. Chakravorty with any discovery materials in this case.”
Attorneys for Raniere who have signed the protective order include:
- Steven Alan Metcalf,
- Joseph Daniel McBride
- Martin Tankleff
- Paul DerOhannesian
- Marc A Agnifilo
- Jennifer Ann Bonjean
- Jeffrey Lichtman
- Marc Fernich
Hajjar raised two other points in her letter, which Frank Report plans on investigating.
The first is that Chakravorty may have disclosed materials covered in the protective order. Since he did not sign the order, there may be no prohibition to his so doing, but it may be a problem for any attorney that disclosed protected information to him or others.
Hajjar wrote, “The government understands that Mr. Chakravorty (who is not an attorney) purports to have drafted a motion on Raniere’s behalf based on materials from the hard drive, and may also have disclosed or discussed protected discovery material to and with other individuals not subject to the Protective Order.”
The second point concerns a sensitive matter which is not covered by the protective order:
Hajjar writes, “The government has also received information that Mr. Chakravorty is also in possession of sexually explicit photographs of a victim identified as a ‘Jane Doe’ in the indictment. These photographs were not produced as discovery in this case because they were never in the government’s possession.”
Frank Report is aware of this issue, and we will be reporting on this matter more fully.