This is part #2 of John Tighe’s absolutely gripping account of his incredible tangle with NXIVM and their associates in law enforcement. Part #1: NXIVM Target, Blogger John Tighe, Finally Breaks Silence to Tell Story After Five Years in Prison
By John Tighe
One of my biggest mistakes was never taking NXIVM very seriously. Instead, I really felt pity for the wealth-privileged, lost souls who fell for its shit. A dirty little fat man in filthy sweatpants spewing schizophasia phrases in an unintelligible mixture of bullshit and balderdash. I was wrong. They were extremely dangerous!
I had fallen asleep in my office in the basement still dressed from the night before. I did not hear the pounding on the door at 5:00 AM. My wife, who was already up and getting ready for a day of work at Skidmore College, answered the door.
When she opened the door, she was confronted by Rodger Kirsopp – along with three more heavily armed New York State troopers – with a search warrant in his hand charging through the door. I heard my wife yell – and ran up the stairs. Seeing the grim-faced Kirsopp and his friends, I knew this was not a joke.
Just so you know, I had never been arrested in my life. I was and am a law-abiding citizen. At this time, I had a New York State Pistol Permit along with numerous guns in a safe in the basement and a loaded shotgun in the upstairs bedroom.
I knew things could go downhill quickly. So, I threw my arms into the air, got down on my knees, and yelled “I am unarmed.” Kirsopp searched me and told me to sit. He knew I had recently had an attempted home invasion by armed goons. A loaded pistol along with my permit was in a locked box next to my chair. I pointed it out to him. My wife was crying and terrified. Kirsopp told me to relax – and I regained my composure.
I began to yell at him over and over. “REALLY? REALLY. YOU COME INTO MY HOUSE, TERRIFY MY WIFE WITH A FUCKING NXIVM SEARCH WARRANT? YOU FUCK!”
At that moment, I realized everything I had believed about law and justice was bullshit. Talk about privilege. I do not mean white privilege (though that is a real thing). I mean wealth privilege. No matter how debased and warped Raniere and his perverted gibberish was, it was backed by the Bronfman sisters’ money. I had been played.
As reality set in and Kirsopp’s squad searched my house, I sat back in my chair. I was tired, thirsty, and being a diabetic who had not eaten recently, I was becoming hypoglycemic. At the time, I had three computers – and my wife had one of her own. Kirsopp and his guys packed up all four computers, my files, my password books, and anything else they wanted. I was forced to sit in a chair unable to make phone calls or to eat or drink.
At this point I just wanted them to leave my house. This is when I made a large mistake. Kirsopp showed me a piece of paper and said: “Just sign this and I will have your computers back to you in a week or two. I was rattled, tired and hypoglycemic. I signed it. He gave me a copy of what I had signed – and he and his buddies left. Little did I know the long string of numbers on the paper was for more than my computers; it also included serial numbers for four HP computers and one MacBook Pro – none of which were mine.
There is a certain irony in the “MacBook Pro.” Anyone who knows me knows I hate Apple products. Never owned one or wanted one. And what the fuck would I do with four HP computers? But I did sign for them and that haunts me to this day.
I had done work as a volunteer for Lee Kindlon, an attorney in Albany who ran against Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares, a NXIVM-loving, ass-kissing POS. Lee lost that race, but I thought of him as a friend. I called his law office – and, because he was in court, I talked to his father, Terry. He told me to bring a checkbook and a copy of the search warrant to his office in Albany. At this same time, I was learning about the other raids against Joe O’Hara and Toni Foley.
I met Terry and after examining the warrant, he gave me a quick price list. He said it was a “weak warrant” – and that the price to have it thrown out would be $20,000 cash. To hire Lee to represent me would be another $5,000 cash. So much for friends. Later, I talked to Lee. He told me he had already talked to Kirsopp and told him he was representing me. Lee advised me to save the 20k, give him 5k and I would have my computers back in a week or two. So, I coughed up five grand. Then I went out and brought a Chromebook and, per the advice of Lee, took down my website. At the time, I thought it would be just for a little while.
Life went on.
Before I go any further, let me straighten out a few things.
I was told there was some confusion about who “the NXIVM Mayor” was. That was Val Keehn, a one-term disaster.
The story I was working on at the time of the raid was about the mayoral campaign of Joann Yepsen. As far as I know, Yepsen herself had never been a member of NXIVM or taken NXIVM courses. But her Executive Assistant was a NXIVM coach and a life coach – and bragged about her completion of Executive Success Program (ESP) classes on her personal website. That story was never published – and Yepsen was elected as Mayor of Saratoga Springs by less than 200 votes. Yepsen went on to become the only Saratoga Springs Mayor to be censored by her own ethics committee – and was later rebuked by the entire city council. I still believe that if I had published the story, it might have flipped the election.
Prior to the raid, I was also working on a story about Darryl Mount, a young Black man who had supposedly fallen from an elevated platform while being chased by Saratoga Springs police. Nine years later, Mount’s death has become the biggest issue in the city – a situation that could have been avoided if Saratoga Springs had conducted a fair and independent investigation back in 2013.
After forking over 5k to Kindlon, I stopped blogging but was still involved in local issues. I became rattled again when Kyle York, my good friend and a fellow blogger and NXIVM critic, fell out his fifth-floor window to his death just days after the raid on my house. I still miss Kyle and wonder about his fall that was labeled an “accident”
I worked to set up a Code Blue program in Saratoga Springs after the death of Nancy Pitts who froze to death on the loading dock of the Senior Center. The local police tried to cover up her death up by simply listing it on the blotter as an “unattended death.” I tipped off Caitlin Morris, a young, smart aggressive reporter at The Saratogian who dug up the truth. She won an award for her work – and was then fired. A real testament to the state of journalism today
The New Year came and went. My wife and I traveled to NYC a few times.
Lee told me not to worry. Every time I called Lee, it cost more money – which is why we rarely spoke.
Months went by until one day there was pounding on our front door. I opened it and saw a grim-faced Kirsopp and another detective. They said they had a warrant for my arrest for possession of child pornography.
Talk about a gutshot. I almost passed out. At this point, Kirsopp showed some compassion. He let me sit down and catch my breath. He asked if I was all right – and I responded by saying that I wanted to talk to my attorney and then shut the fuck up. I was taken to the State Police substation in Clifton Park where I was met by Mark Vicente and a NXIVM film crew.
Kirsopp had obviously given them a heads-up – no doubt for the viewing pleasure of Keith Raniere. and his sycophants. Once inside, I was allowed to call my wife. She called Lee and he and my wife and family rushed down only to be greeted by the POS Mark Vicente and his goons.
I was arraigned and released. That was my first and last appearance on state child porn charges.
When we left, I was greeted by full media coverage. I was on the news and in the papers. No doubt, my enemies were already dancing on my grave. Fortunately, my close friends and wife never once believed the charges. That was a long sad night.
The next day, I talked to Lee and found out he wanted another 20k on top of the 5k I had already given him. I was still free to come and go. Lee never seemed very concerned. He rarely called me back – and when he did, he just kept telling me not to worry.
I had been arrested in February and never had another state court date. In July, Lee called and informed me that the state charge had been dropped but that it had been picked up by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
So, now I was facing federal charges with mandatory sentences and a 98% conviction rate. My head wanted to explode. I had to go to Federal Court where I was once again released on my own recognizance with an ankle bracelet and placed under house arrest. Lee could not make it that day, so his father Terry appeared (He forgot my file). He also wanted another 5k. And so, it began…a long slow walk to the gallows.
Next, I was indicted by a grand jury led by Special District Attorney Holly A. Trexler in Albany County Court on a felony count of Computer Trespassing. The hits just kept on coming. Lee said that it would take another 5k for him to defend me on that charge.
This is when it got sad. I told Lee I refused to plead guilty to any of the charges against me. But the more I read, I realized the Federal Government had a higher conviction rate than the Soviet show trials led by Joseph Stalin in the great purge of the 1930s.
When I still resisted pleading guilty, Lee laid out the reality of my situation. In order to represent me if I wanted to go to trial on the federal charge, he would need a 100k retainer to start. He asked about the MacBook – which was the first I heard of it. Well, I signed for it. Same for the 4HPs. I was defeated.
Then came the kicker…I could plead guilty to two federal counts of possession of child porn and one of receipt – and one count of computer trespass to satisfy the state charge – or they would indict my wife.
You read that right. My wonderful, gentle, kind wife who never hurt a fly in her life. I bet that was Raniere’s idea. That is how fucking low these scumbags will go to get a conviction at any cost. Oh, and Lee wanted another 5k.
CHECKMATE. Lee said I would most likely get one year and a day on the federal charge and one year on the state charge – and that the sentences would run concurrently. I was so tired and worn. I had lost everything I had believed in. The government I loved and that my father fought for was bought and paid for by a couple of nitwit sisters who happened to have inherited almost a billion dollars
They took my computers in October 2013. It was now 2015. I had been out on home arrest all this time. I had gotten fat – and felt beat down. Guilt or innocence was not even discussed. The minute I signed for a MacBook and four mystery HPs, I was doomed.
My final option was to have a public defender appointed for me in both cases – and face 20 years in federal prison if I lost at trial. Lee advised me to plead out – and told me that a sentence of one year and a day was a strong possibility with three years the max. Oh, and he needed 5k more. Reluctantly, I agreed.
In June 2015, I went to state court in the morning and was sentenced to one year to run concurrently with whatever sentence I received when I appeared in federal court that afternoon. So far, so good. I went to lunch with my wife and family – and after that, we all went to federal court. Lee was late and forgot my file. His sentencing memo was a cut-and-paste job – but he spoke nicely about what a wonderful person I was. I asked for mercy but there was no mercy in the court that day. Just the black cloud of NXIVM.
In the back of the courtroom were Val Keehn, Steve Coffey, and a bunch of NXIVM harlots, all having a grand old time. The judge sentenced me to 70 months (about 6 years) in federal prison – and told me to report to prison on July 20th. I spoke up and pointed out that July 20th was my birthday – which caused him to change my report date to the 21st. I walked out of the courtroom arm and arm with my wife – and stared at my enemies in the back of the courtroom. Outside, Mark Vicente was there to film me as I walked to my car.
We went home and I slumped into my chair. We had a lot to do. Joyce had to shut down our three-story, 1,200 square foot townhouse and put my antique furniture in storage. She found a small apartment outside of town – which is where she would live until I returned. I became determined to get through this and be free again.
And then my report date finally came. I drove to Devens Federal Prison with my wife and my family on the day after my birthday and turned myself in.
End of Part 2
Next: Welcome To Prison.
Editor’s Note: After reading this, I think some may agree that a public corruption investigation is warranted into law enforcement and various lawyers in the Albany area, and that efforts should be made to exonerate John Tighe.