Frank Parlato and Suneel Chakravorty are the authors of this series. Parlato is a critic of Keith Raniere. Chakravorty is Raniere’s power of attorney.
This is Part 4.
In 2015, Raniere co-created DOS, a secret sorority with “masters” and “slaves.” All members were female except Raniere. Raniere’s eight direct slaves were the “First Line.” Raniere designated Camila #1.
Collateral consisted of material or information that the prospective slave would not want revealed because it would be ruinous to the prospective slave herself and/or someone close to her.
Collateral… included sexually explicit photographs; videos made to look candid in which the prospective slaves told damning stories (true or untrue) about themselves, close friends and/or family members; and letters making damaging accusations (true or untrue) against friends and family members.
Some slaves were told that they had to collateralize all aspects of their lives, including signing over any assets, disclaiming their faith, and doing things that would ruin their careers and relationships if the collateral were released.
DOS slaves understood that if they left DOS, spoke publicly about DOS, or repeatedly failed DOS obligations or assignments, their collateral could be released….
DOS slaves were ultimately required to provide collateral beyond what had initially been described…. [ some slaves] would have to provide collateral every month…. DOS slaves continued to provide additional collateral… in part because they feared that the collateral they had already provided would be released.
Some of the masters gave their slaves assignments… to have sex with RANIERE… DOS victims… believed they had to complete the assignment or risk release of their collateral.
And then there was branding.
Many of the DOS victims were branded in their pubic regions with a cauterizing pen in a process that took twenty to thirty minutes. During the branding “ceremonies,” slaves were required to be fully naked, and the master would order one slave to film while the others held down the slave being branded.
Some DOS victims were told that the brand stood for the four elements (the lines represented air, earth and water and the cauterizing pen represented sealing with fire). … however, it is clear that the brand in fact consisted of RANIERE’s initials.
Masters told their slaves after the branding ceremonies that the videos of the branding ceremonies and photographs of the women with their brands were additional pieces of collateral.
DOS stayed a secret for more than two years. Parlato broke the story of DOS on this website on June 5, 2017. You can read about that here.
Mariana and Keith Raniere with their son in Monterrey 2017.
I think it would be good for you to own a fuck toy slave for me, that you could groom, and use as a tool, to pleasure me.
From an FBI warrant:
On or about February 18, 2018, citing “numerous” local sources, the [Frank Report] blog reported that Raniere may have left Monterrey and may now be living in the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The blog has previously had accurate information regarding Raniere’s whereabouts.
Mexican authorities seized Raniere on the coast near Puerto Vallarta. They flew him to the United States within 24 hours.
The FBI arrested him in Dallas.
On the day of Raniere’s arrest, the FBI obtained a warrant to search 8 Hale Drive.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis was to later describe the warrant after Raniere challenged it.
Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart of the Northem District of New York signed a search and seizure warrant… permitting agents to search … 8 Hale Drive… including any locked and closed containers and closed items at that location.
The warrant also authorized the seizure of certain items that are “evidence, fruits and instrumentalities” of certain offenses— sex trafficking, forced labor, extortion, and racketeering… involving Keith Raniere that occurred in or after January 1, 2015.
The items listed in the warrant included: “Computers or storage media used as a means to commit or facilitate the commission of the Subject Offenses (including to store ‘collateral…)
The affidavit described explicit photographs and videos from DOS “slaves” as collateral and notes that the collateral was given to Raniere and would likely be found at 8 Hale Drive…
Raniere [allegedly] collected similar nude photographs of DOS slaves in connection with sex-trafficking and forced-labor crimes.
The warrant authorized the FBI to search for crimes occurring in or after January 1, 2015.
[T]he warrant I am applying for would permit seizing, imaging, or otherwise copying storage media that reasonably appear to contain some or all of the evidence described in the warrant, and would authorize a later review of the media or information consistent with the warrant.
The later review may require techniques, including but not limited to computer-assisted scans of the entire medium that might expose many parts of a hard drive to human inspection in order to determine whether it is evidence described by the warrant.
A team of agents entered. Some moved towards the kitchen—some towards the living room.
The card for evidence Item #2 is for the silver LaCie hard drive.
A Western Digital hard drive is next to it – in the middle. Next to that is a Sony DVD player.
The FBI took the wrong photo of the evidence item which later was alleged to contain child porn.
The FBI allegedly discovered Camila’s photos on a Western Digital hard drive. Not the silver LaCie hard drive.
The FBI seized other items after getting the first two. The FBI seized a book, 30 cassettes, an Amazon Kindle, two CDs, a thumb drive, and a storage device. Then they went back to collect items under the desk.
You can see all the photos of the FBI seized items in Government Exhibit 502A.
Under the desk, the FBI took a Lenovo computer tower [evidence item #12.] An Apple computer tower [evidence item #13]. They took another silver LaCie hard drive [evidence item #14.]
Please note: The silver LaCie under the desk [#14] was not the same silver LaCie hard drive SA Mills photographed as evidence item #2.
Before we move on with the rest of the search, let us look at screenshots from a video made in 2012 by Mark Vicente. Hee made this video six years before the FBI raid.
The black and silver hard drives are in the same place on the day of the raid as they were six years before when Vicente filmed Raniere in his study.
Left to right: The silver LaCie hard drive, the black Western Digital hard drive with a blue light – because it’s plugged in — and a Sony DVD player.
To enhance this double role, the FBI moved the silver LaCie hard drive to the left of where it was when it appeared as evidence item #2.
They positioned books and a Rubik’s Cube near it.
Evidence item #2 is evidence item #37. Only the cards were changed.
Yet the same device cannot be two different evidence items. But it is. The same silver LaCie hard drive appears as evidence item #2 and #37.
The FBI correctly identifies the LaCie hard drive as evidence item #37 on their evidence list.
The FBI incorrectly identifies the LaCie hard drive as evidence item #2 on their evidence list.
The FBI’s evidence list shows evidence item #2 is a Western Digital hard drive.
Another point: The FBI did not photograph all the evidence items in place.
We find the Sony DVD drive in the same place as the LaCie silver hard drive appearing as evidence item #36.
Right next to the Rubik’s cube.
The FBI finished the search around 12:30 p.m.
FBI SA Mills failed to photograph the Western Digital hard drive. The only seized device he did not photograph was the most important one. The Western Digital hard drive allegedly contained child porn.
Now let us look at FBI photos of the Western Digital hard drive. This will establish beyond a doubt that that hard drive is black, not silver.
The photos were taken by Forensic Examiner Trainee Virginia Donnelly. She took the photos six months after the raid. An FBI agent brought a Western Digital hard drive to her at FBI CART.
CART stands for Computer Analysis Response Team.
Donnelly made the forensic copy of the Western Digital hard drive on September 19, 2018.
Government exhibit 961 shows her photos of the Western Digital hard drive. It is black. Not silver or grey.
But the FBI found child porn 11 months later on the Western Digital hard drive, they alleged.
The metadata of the Camila photos on the Western Digital hard drive shows the camera that took the photos. It was the Canon camera the FBI seized first.
What extraordinary luck. Evidence items #1 and #2 were all the proof they needed for child porn and exploitation of a child.
Yet the search warrant did not call for child porn from 2005. The warrant was narrow. It was for DOS crimes committed on or after January 1, 2015 – ten years later.
It is not illegal per se for the FBI to find child porn outside the warrant’s scope. SA Lever said he might have to make a human inspection of the devices.
Where items outside the scope of a warrant are seized, “‘[t]he retention of [those] items . . . can be justified only if the Government meets its burden of demonstrating that those items fall within an exception to the warrant requirement,’ such as the plain view exception.
What are the odds of finding the evidence needed for a crime not listed in the search warrant?
What odds of finding it from the first two items seized out of 37 items?
Two items that agents went out of their way to seize first and second.
And what are the odds of the FBI finding this evidence 11 months later, by accident?
So accidental that the FBI had to get another search warrant to cover it?
The plain view doctrine is an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement that allows an officer to seize evidence and contraband that are found in plain view during a lawful observation.
Let us consider:
Raniere left the hard drive for years untouched.
The metadata shows that the Western Digital hard drive was accessed last on February 12, 2010. That was eight years before the FBI raid. It was when Daniela still worked for him, a month before she entered her room for 23 months.
Raniere left the hard drive in plain sight. It had not moved, it seemed, in at least six years. We can attribute this to Raniere’s arrogance and recklessness if you like. Leaving child porn on a hard drive and then going to Mexico. Knowing the FBI is investigating.
Then the FBI raided 8 Hale. They act like homing pigeons in their pursuit of two items. The first two: A camera and a hard drive. They bypass other devices under the desk and on the desk. They seize the first two items. But they take the wrong photo of the hard drive.
Eleven months later, the FBI discovers crimes outside the warrant’s scope.
They find it accidentally through human inspection. The FBI discovers child porn on a black Western Digital hard drive just a few weeks before the trial.
Forget that they waited 11 months to complete their hard drive inspection. Forget they told the judge the hard drive was likely to contain collateral. And other evidence of sex trafficking.
Forget that the FBI got the warrant the same day they arrested Raniere – on March 26, 2018.
They raided 8 Hale the next day – on March 27, 2018.
On February 21, 2019, they made a human inspection of the hard drive for crimes committed on or after January 1, 2015. At that time, the FBI accidentally discovered Camila’s photos. It was 332 days after they seized the hard drive.
And six weeks before jury selection.
On June 10, the DOJ called FBI Special Agent Christopher Mills to testify at Raniere’s trial.
AUSA Tanya Hajjar examined him. She asked about the camera.
Hajjar: Now, showing you Government Exhibit 502-A-32, can you describe what this photograph depicts?
Mills: Sure. So the there’s a note there with the number one. So number one represents evidence item number one. So, in this case, this photo was taken underneath the desk or table and was assigned number one based on being the first evidence item that was found.
Hajjar: And what’s the point of photographing where evidence is found?
Mills: So we want to photograph — we call it “in place” to photograph where this item was found and in this case the item was found directly below the desk or table.
As we saw above, Mills did not photograph everything in place. They moved things around. The questions continue:
Hajjar: And is this item, item one, reflected on the photographic log that you looked at — that you showed the jury earlier?
Mills: It’s not the first photo. It’s the first item.
Hajjar: The item one?
Mills: Evidence item one.
Hajjar: Item one noted on that log?
Hajjar: Your Honor, may I approach the witness?
THE COURT: Yes, you may.
(Hajjar approached Mills with the actual camera and bag.]
Hajjar: I’m going to show you, Agent Mills, what’s marked as Government’s Exhibit 520 and 524. Have you seen these exhibits?
Hajjar: What are these?
Mills: So, this camera here is the camera that was inside the bag of the item identified as item number one ….
Hajjar: Showing you 502-A-33, is this the same — is this the same camera as Government Exhibit 520 and the bag that you found it in?
Hajjar: Okay. So turning now, Agent Mills, to Government Exhibit 502-A-34, can you describe what this photograph shows?
Hajjar: I don’t have anything on the screen.
THE COURT: I am sorry. Go ahead.
Exhibit 502-A-34 appears on the screen.
Hajjar: Can you describe what this photograph shows?
Mills: Yes. So this is the still of the same office space as seen before and item number two, which is on top of the bookshelf here, is a gray or silver hard drive.
FBI SA Mills says evidence item #2 is a silver or grey hard drive. He does not identify it as a LaCie hard drive. He only identifies it by color.
Hajjar:: Your Honor, may I approach the witness?
THE COURT: Yes, you may.
Hajjar does not bring the silver LaCie hard drive Mills photographed and just identified.
She brings out a black Western Digital hard drive, the actual, physical device.
Hajjar: I show you what’s been marked for identification as Government Exhibit 502. Showing you what’s marked for identification as Government Exhibit 503. Do you recognize this exhibit?
Hajjar showed Mills a black Western Digital hard drive.
Hajjar: What is it?
Mills: This is a hard drive. The brand is, I believe, Western Digital.
Hajjar: Is there a serial number on that exhibit?
Mills: Yes. It is WCAS81365334.
Hajjar: Your Honor, the Government offers Government Exhibit 503 into evidence.
THE COURT: All right. Government Exhibit 503 is received in evidence. (Government Exhibit 503 – the Western Digital hard drive – is received in evidence.)
It could be an accident. Hajjar showed Mills the photo of evidence item #2. He describes it as a silver or grey hard drive.
No brand name.
Then she brings him the black Western Digital hard drive. Mills identifies it by brand and even serial number. And the countries of manufacture.
Hajjar: I wanted to show you, Agent Mills, the back of Government Exhibit 503 where you read the serial number. Do you see that?
Hajjar: Do you see up top where this device was manufactured and assembled?
Mills: Yes. It says “Assembled in Thailand with drive manufactured in Malaysia or Thailand.”
Hajjar: Do you see the front of Government Exhibit 503, the circle?
Hajjar: Agent Mills, was this one of the devices that was also provided to CART for their analysis and review?
AUSA Hajjar does not ask Mills if he seized the Western digital hard drive at 8 Hale. She did ask him if the camera was seized at 8 Hale.
But with the hard drive, the one he took the wrong photo of — the hard drive with the evidence of the child porn and the metadata to place the camera – Hajjar does not ask him if he seized at 8 Hale.
Could be an oversight. But she only asks him if it was the hard drive taken to CART to be examined. She continues:
Hajjar: Turning then to — skip to 502-A-46, can you describe what this photograph depicts?
Mills: Sure. So this is, once again, underneath the desk or the table in the office space. And you see item number 14, so that’s evidence item number 14, the gray or silver hard drive.
Hajjar: Can I approach the witness, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes, you may.
Hajjar: I’d like to show the witness what’s been marked for identification as Government Exhibit 506.
(Hajjar approaches Mills with the LaCie hard drive #14.)
Hajjar: I’m showing you actually what’s marked as 560, Agent Mills. Do you recognize this exhibit?
Hajjar: What is it?
Mills: It’s the hard drive and brand LaCie.
Hajjar: Was that the item 14 that you recovered from 8 Hale Drive?
THE COURT: Received in evidence.
Government’s Exhibit 560 received in evidence.)
So let us review: Hajjar shows Mills the photo of the camera and the bag. She asks him to identify and confirm he took it from 8 Hale.
Hajjar shows Mills the photo of the silver LaCie – evidence item #2.
Then she shows him the black Western Digital hard drive but doesn’t ask him if he took it from 8 Hale.
Hajjar shows Mills a photo of another LaCie hard drive – the one under the desk. It is evidence item #14. Then she brings the actual device and he confirms he took it from 8 Hale.
Here is the pattern.
She shows the photo, then the actual device, and asks if he seized it from 8 Hale.
But with the critical evidence – the hard drive with the alleged child porn – the black Western Digital hard drive, Hajjar shows Mills a photo of a silver LaCie hard drive. Then she brings the black Western Digital hard drive. And without asking him if he seized it at 8 Hale.
Ok. So when Hajar shows Mills the silver LaCie #14, he identifies it by brand and that he took it from 8 Hale. She continues:
Hajjar: Agent Mills, can you read the serial number on this drive as well?
Mills: It is 164400534.
Hajjar: Agent Mills, was Government Exhibit 560 one of the devices that was provided to CART for analysis and review?
The silver LaCie #14 and the silver LaCie #2 and again #37 did not provide any evidence of child porn. The black Western Digital hard drive was the only device not photographed that was supposedly seized during the raid at 8 Hale.
It was the only device Mills was asked to identify that he does not specifically state he seized it from 8 Hale.
He may have gotten confused about what might be the single most important evidence in the case. Presented with a black hard drive, Mills did not say he seized it at 8 Hale.
He only said it is “a hard drive.”
Hajjar asks if the black Western Digital hard drive was provided to CART for examination.
The crucial evidence, the black Western Digital hard drive, which allegedly had Camila’s pictures, Mills did not say he took it from 8 Hale. And he wasn’t asked.
So now it is time for cross-examination.
Raniere’s attorney, Teny Geragos asked Mills about the Western Digital hard drive – the black one.
She wanted to know if the hard drive was plugged in at 8 Hale when he seized it.
Geragos: Was this plugged into anything?
Mills: I would not know at that moment.
Geragos: Okay. Did you personally retrieve it?
Mills: Did I personally retrieve the device itself?
Mills: For evidence collection, yes.
Mills did not answer yes or no. That was what the question called for. Yes or no.
Instead he answered with a question then said he retrieved the black Western Digital hard drive for “evidence collection.”
He does not specify where he retrieved it. He did not state he retrieved it from 8 Hale.
Geragos: But you just don’t remember if it was actually plugged into anything?
Mills: I don’t recall, but I did not unplug it.
If Mills seized it from 8 Hale and did not unplug it, either it was unplugged or someone unplugged it. He didn’t recall. But then again he didn’t even photograph it.
We have begun to present evidence of alleged tampering. We will later discuss the camera card – which is how the Canon camera transfers photos.
We will discuss how the FBI hid the camera card from the defense. And how the FBI accessed it and changed every date on the card.
And how the FBI made two reports. New photos appeared that weren’t there before. But the people in the photos were wrong.
Then there is puzzling metadata. There are metadata DateTimes that are impossible. Like metadata dates on the Camila photos that are older than the manufacture date of the camera.
We are not saying the FBI tampered with evidence. But there is much to explain.
This post makes a minor point: Why did the FBI fail to take a photo of the most critical digital evidence of the trial? Just a mistake?
Did they take the wrong photo of the hard drive that later was found to have child porn? But they did not know they would find the child porn? Yet they managed to seek that evidence out first.
Yes, coincidences happen. And so does tampering.
And tampering is never perfect. It always comes apart sooner or later. When more than two people are involved, it’s usually sooner.
There will be more questions. And more evidence to come. A lot more.
This will upset the furious ones. The anonymous scolding righteous ones.
They leave comments with their insults and ridicule this endeavor. They know all.
And they cannot stand to think that the truth might differ from what they want.
They are advised not to read Part 5.
You can read Raniere’s Rule 33 Motion on FBI Tampering here.
You can read Dr. Kiper’s Expert Report here.