The FBI arrested Keith Raniere in Dallas, Texas, on March 26, 2018. The Federal Bureau of Prisons [BOP] transferred him to Oklahoma Federal Transfer Center. From there, he moved to the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). He arrived at MDC on April 10, 2018.
He remained at MDC while awaiting trial which began on May 7, 2019. A jury convicted him six weeks later – on June 19, 2019. It would be another year and four months before Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced him – on October 27, 2020.
During the summer of 2020, while Raniere awaited sentencing, his supporters came to MDC to dance. They called themselves The Forgotten Ones. At best, they were a dozen. They danced to protest his conviction. They danced nightly between 8 and 9 pm during July. Then shifted to once weekly on Friday nights in August.
Their protest attracted media attention. Most of it slanted as these brainwashed followers are dancing fools.
A Nxivm camera focused on a cell as a man watched the dancers below.
The Forgotten OnesInstagram stated: “We have brought dance, levity + light outside MDC for inmates + their families, and we continue to provide support for those society has forgotten.” At their peak, they had 900 followers.
The dancers cavorted, gyrated, romped and frolicked. They titillated inmates who watched from above. The inmates would bang on the bars to show appreciation.
The BOP determined who was behind the dancing. They moved Raniere to the back of MDC where he could no longer see them.
After they moved him to the back, there was but a narrow space between the MDC and an Amazon warehouse to dance.
The dancing was constricted, much like the Vanguard.
Raniere attracted the attention of the Counter Terrorism Unit [CTU] of the BOP. All prison calls are recorded and can be reviewed at any time.
The CTU reviewed Raniere’s phone calls and emails.
CTU Intelligence Analyst H. Boussag wrote a memorandum to Senior Intelligence Analyst J. Simmons. The topic –Suneel Chakravorty – and Keith Raniere. SIA Simmons reviewed the memo and sent it to CIU Chief Guy Pagli, in Martinsburg, WV. CIU Chief Pagli approved the intel on it – and sent the memo to the warden of MDC – Heriberto Tellez.
Their recommendation: Don’t let Raniere talk to Suneel.
This memorandum is submitted to request approval for removing one of inmate Raniere, Keith, Reg. No. 570055-177, contacts… Namely, Suneel Chakravorty.
During this review of phone and emails, CTU Staff found numerous occasions where this individual, under the direction of inmate Raniere, has violated BOP policies and procedures….. the above mentioned individual has helped inmate Raniere record podcasts for interviews he is pursuing to use in HBO, Netflix and Showtime.
On a call placed by Raniere to Suneel … on Friday, May 8, 2020… Raniere knowingly began to record a podcast, the narrative of which was “How much legal experience a judge has?”
On another call… on Monday, July 13, 2020… Raniere inquired as to how many podcasts they have recorded… Suneel indicated they have recorded… about 50 podcasts….
Raniere orchestrated through this individual for a group of women to show up regularly and dance provocatively for inmates to view through their cell windows. … on July 12, 2020, Raniere and Suneel discussed the success of the women dancing in front of the prison. Suneel added the inmates were “banging on their windows and making a beat.” Expectedly, Raniere gloated and hoped this movement keeps growing and more women get involved….
On Friday, July 03, 2020… Raniere thanked Suneel for coming by and for bringing Eduardo and Nicki to see him and inquired about whether they read the messages [Raniere] was writing on the light fixture for them….
On Tuesday, July 06, 2020, Raniere authored an electronic correspondence to…. Marianna Fernandez. In the email, Raniere talked about …the women dancing erotically to the delight of other inmates….
“My dearest love! I have another idea that seems to be evolving into something good: for the past few nights people like Suneel, Eduardo, Nicki, and Danielle, have been coming to stand outside of my window to “visit”. It evolved to the women dancing, and the whole side of the building appreciating it.”
Additionally… Raniere discussed his future plans for… “The forgotten ones,” essentially, more women… scantily dressed dancing in front of the prison….
“The forgotten ones” to bring in other dancers etc., interface with the local radio stations to bring in other dancers etc., with the local radio stations to bring together, community, inmates and talent. It can quite nicely grown to encompass licensing, finding new artists etc…”
CTU staff… requested inmate Raniere be moved to another unit…. on a telephone call placed by inmate Raniere to [Suneel] on July 11, 2020, Inmate Raniere espoused his disdain for being moved to another unit after he had organized for the women to come out and dance in front of the facility. Additionally, he begins to tell Suneel about the staff work schedules and indicated his protesters should wait outside for the staff and offer donuts and coffee as they exit the facility…. Raniere advised Suneel the protesters should befriend the staff … stating “we are all in this together.” The staff and the inmates. Suneel indicated the protesters had made offerings to the staff and all of their efforts were declined.
Inmate Raniere’s manipulative behavior continues to manifest from behind the prison through the help of Suneel Chakravorty. Inmate Raniere’s actions would place the safety and security of staff and the public at risk.
BOP may prohibit inmates from communicating… when it is found the communication would jeopardize the safety, security or orderly operation of a facility or would jeopardize the protection of the public or staff.
Sensitive But Unclassified
Warden Tellez cut off Suneel and Raniere’s phone calls.
To some, the dancing seemed ominous. Suppose Raniere’s followers grew from an average of six to 100s of scantily clad protestors seductively offering donuts. Perhaps the MDC would gain unwanted attention. Raniere might create a revolutionary, anti-incarceration culture that garners mass popular support. A shift from mass incarceration policies would follow. A more noble society would foment. They prison officials would all be out of a job.
It could be poetic. Imagine there’s no prisons. No one to incarcerate or take someone to trial for. And no laws too. Imagine all the people because of a few MDC dancers, under their Vanguard, spreading love here, there, and everywhere.
Imagine all the people sharing donuts and coffee. You may say Raniere is a dreamer, but he’s not the only one. The Forgotten Ones hope someday you will join them.
The grandmaster taught the world to dance in perfect harmony—a Kumbaya of the highest proportions.
Lamentably, none of that happened. We still have the same sorry world. Incarceration rates are high. Guards and prisoners are not friends, and donuts go uneaten. The Forgotten Ones just couldn’t get people behind it. It’s hard to get people behind a guy who branded women with his initials.
Still, the dancers meant no harm. They were not going to storm the prison and try to jail break Raniere. Or force feed donuts to guards.
But the BOP cut off Raniere and Suneel.
A Fact Not Mentioned
There was something going on behind the scenes. Something not captured in the CTU memorandum. The CTU listened to many calls. They choose to highlight three of four.
Most of Suneel and Raniere’s calls were not about donuts and skimpily clothed dancers. Their calls were about the FBI. The two men claimed the FBI adjusted metadata on a hard drive where child porn was found, and a camera card from a camera that allegedly took the photos.
By evaluating data spreadsheets, Raniere and Suneel discovered anomalies. Some metadata did not make sense.
The CTU listened to them discussing things that directly involved FBI agents – the federal agency they work closely with on investigations conducted inside and outside prison walls.
Podcasts, donuts, coffee, half-naked dancing protestors were certainly an object of grave concern to CTU. But the two men were naming FBI agents they knew. They talked about things IT guys might understand.
If the CTU were cautious about skinny dancers and podcasts getting aired on HBO from a man everyone despised, is it possible that the CTU was concerned about two men talking about the FBI?
Conversations Not Mentioned
I reviewed audios and transcripts of some of the MDC prison calls – up until the time Raniere and Suneel were cut off. They show two men interested in trying to answer technical questions. I was struck by one.
How solid is the evidence that the Canon camera took the contraband pictures of Camila that were used to convict Raniere of his most grotesque racketeering acts?
The metadata used as evidence at his trial proved Raniere was the photographer – it was his camera – and the photos were taken in 2005 when Camila was 15.
Here was a riddle. The Canon camera took the photos in 2005 according to one set of metadata – EXIF data. But another set of metadata for the same images show the photos were backed up to a Dell computer in 2003. How did that happen? Canon manufactured the specific camera in 2004. The camera did not take photos before it was manufactured. The computer could not have backed up photos that would not be taken for another two years.
The metadata contradicted itself.
This was explained by a patent lie told at the trial by an FBI forensic examiner — that EXIF data is hard to change. Either it was a lie, or the man is incompetent. But he is a senior forensic examiner.
The FBI’s expert, Senior Forensic Examiner Brian Booth, testified about EXIF data. EXIF data is information embedded into a photograph file. Booth swore it is extremely reliable, because it is “very hard” to change.
He said it again and again. His testimony is a peon of praise for the impenetrability of EXIF Data.
He swore that EXIF data “time and date information… are very hard… to modify… it’s not easily modifiable… they … keep you from changing dates and times. It’s not easy to change those. You have to go through special processes to change” EXIF Data.
It’s an absolute lie.
Booth said, “unless you wind up getting software that’s just developed to do that” EXIF Data is “very hard to modify.”
A person does not need special software. One can use built-in features in Windows to modify EXIF data. Or one of many free tools online to modify EXIF data. They are not special at all. They are free to anyone. Modifying EXIF data requires no “software” or “special processes,” as Booth claimed. Nor is it “very hard” to modify, as he claimed.
Yes, Raniere is a rat. But why did the FBI lie about EXIF data?
This is what started the long road of tampering investigation. Suneel caught it. Senior Forensic Examiner Booth made false statements under oath. He knew when he heard him at trial that a quick Google search will find free, simple-to-use tools for editing EXIF data.
Why would the FBI’s digital forensic examiner swear that EXIF data cannot be easily modified? Why would he make such statements so many times? Did the prosecution falsely believe EXIF data could not be easily modified?
The EXIF Data supported that the photos on the drive were of an underage person. Other metadata contradicted the EXIF Data. That called all the forensic data into question.
What if the prosecution had told the truth? That EXIF data can be easily modified. One does not need special skills or tools? This is what got Suneel curious. It made this writer curious too.
An example was the midnight maple.
The FBI found the Camila child porn in a sub-folder on the hard drive. The folder was named “Studies”. Inside the first sub-folder was the photo of a maple tree. It was the very first photo in the entire file. There were 168 photos in the Studies folder. A maple tree -and 167 nude photos of 12 females . Twenty-two of these were Camila at age 15, according to the metadata.
But let’s go back to the first photo in this all-important folder. The photo [below] looks like one of numerous maple trees in the area around 8 Hale where the hard drive was seized.
A maple tree at midnight?
The current Rule 33 motion included a maple tree photo in an appendix. It is the only non-nude photo of the 168 pictures in the folder.
The EXIF Date/Time of this maple tree image shows the photo taken at 12:20 am. Yet it is a daytime photo. The EXIF data shows the camera had a low ISO setting – meaning no lens setting to brighten the darkness. The ISO setting is a daylight setting. The metadata of the photo shows no modifications, like lightening the image with a filter. It’s clear as daylight.
The photo of the maple tree was not taken at midnight. This demonstrates that the EXIF data was not as reliable as the FBI testified.
Sure, one can argue it may be off by only 9-17 hours. The camera clock is wrong by a few hours, that’s all.
But the EXIF Date/Time is false.
How do we know to what extent? Is it hours, days, months, years?
The maple tree is the only non-nude photo. It is the only photo of the 168 taken outdoors. The only picture where one can judge if the hour is wrong. And the EXIF Date/Time is wrong.
That does not mean anything more than EXIF Data is not reliable. It is not proof by itself.
Suneel and Raniere discussed this and other topics in recorded conversations at MDC. Here are a few snippets of conversations between them. Discussions the CTU did not choose to report in their memorandum.
Raniere: There are pictures of that backup that were never backed up as pictures… like a tree…
This seems so outlandish, so tampered with.”
Raniere: Someone’s trying to put the files on the computer and… maybe even change stuff on the SD [camera] card…
When I was at the trial, to me, it looked like stuff was put on the hard drive. There are things that I can’t imagine would have been on that hard drive… and it just seemed wrong. I think they got a whole load of data from somewhere else and tried to foist that upon the computer and foisted that upon the SD drive… maybe even taking out one set of pictures and substituting them with others.
Raniere: It’s hard to imagine that there’d be a theory of non-tampering that explains the data.
Suneel: Yeah, I agree.
Raniere: It’s so easy to get lost in the details of all the inconsistencies. But [it is] only explained… by someone going in there and tampering…. to digest all the details is good. But I think what’s going to end up happening is we’re going to find out this date plus this day plus this and that. I mean, it must be tampering.
Keith: Paul [Derohanassian] told me the old expert really tried and couldn’t recreate things… in any natural way. And of course, because it’s not natural… That means this was tampered.
By July, they found an inconsistency that they could not easily explain by anything other than someone manually adjusting the metadata.
Suneel determined a person cannot program the camera clock on the Canon to adjust for Daylight Savings time automatically.
Keith: Could the camera possibly have any way of knowing [when daylight time ends]?
Suneel: The Date/Time is literallyjust the date and the time. And there’s no GPS [to adjust for time zones].
Raniere: Why would someone even worry about Daylight Savings Time with a camera that’s [supposedly] 17 hours off?… I’m taking a picture of a tree at midnight, and it’s in the middle of the day or in the morning. And I’m worrying about a one-hour shift?…
I’m surprised about the depth of forgery, the depth of tampering. So, someone sat there and looked at the data and thought they would be clever and put in Daylight Savings Time.
They spoke about differences between EXIF Data Datetime and the Modified Data Date/Time. There were pictures in the studies folder on the hard drive where the metadata did not make sense.
There is an inconsistent relationship between them. The camera generates Date/Times upon the creation of photographs. The Date/Time is the year, month, day, hour, minute, and second – based on the camera’s clock. The camera embeds the EXIF Date/Time into the JPG file.
The Canon camera uses a camera card to transfer photos to a computer. The EXIF Date/Time does not change when someone downloads a photo from the camera card to a computer. The Modified Date/Time represents the last time the file or folder was updated.
Did someone make a deliberate effort to alter Modified Date/Time on the files? The reason? So, they could mimic Daylight Saving Time and its ending on October 30,2005. We don’t know.
From IMG_43 to IMG_126, the Modified Date/Times are an hour behind the EXIF Date/Times.
This could be the computer adjusting for Daylight Savings Time.
But on October 30, 2005, something strange happens.
Starting with IMG_ 127. From 127- to 137, the Modified Date/Times become two hours behind the EXIF Date/Times. Then on the same day, it moves forward instead of falling back.
Starting with 138, the Modified Date/Times are the same as the EXIF Date/Times. The two-hour photos IMG_0127-137 are part of a single folder. It contains photographs of Mariana and Pam together. Two women – two hours. Sounds legit.
Or someone got mixed up on which way to set the Modified DateT/imes and went the wrong way – by an hour. Then they corrected it with the next set of photos – starting with Barbara Jeske.
Could a computer do this without someone doing the alterations by hand? What outside of human intervention could account for this anomaly? Why would someone make these odd changes?
The FBI never found Raniere’s computer. They found the hard drive. They said the missing computer backed up the photos to the hard drive.
One hour might be explainable. But what explains the two-hour difference? The FBI’s premise is that the photos in the studies folder were never altered. They are exactly the metadata that the camera and the computer embedded in the images.
Yet images’ metadata don’t comport with anything that computers do without human fingers making willful alterations.
There were two models in the photos that have the two-hour difference between the EXIF and Modified. Before that there was one model and a one-hour difference. Could Suneel find out if the camera clock adjusts time based on the number of models in a picture?
In the background of this discussion of FBI tampering was dancing. And donuts. HBO and podcasts. And a CTU investigation.
In a future post, we will discuss Raniere’s application for a new phone contact – for a one Isaac Edward. And how Suneel and Raniere continued to examine the metadata and what they found.
His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.
His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.
Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.
Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.
Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.
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