We are reviewing the February 1 hearing in the civil lawsuit, Sarah Edmonsdson et al, vs. Keith Raniere et al.
This is part #3.
The venue is the US District Court in the Eastern District of NY. The judge is US District Court Judge Eric R. Komitee.
A hearing was held on the afternoon of February 1, 2023.
The purpose of the hearing was to hear oral arguments for motions to dismiss against the defendants, Clare and Sara Bronfman, Nicki Clyne, Brandon Porter and Danielle Roberts.
Defendants Raniere and Kathy Russell made no appearance.
THE COURT: [paraphrasing the civil complaint: Sara] told somebody [Adrian] shortly before [Raniere’s criminal] trial… to make themselves scarce in the lead up to trial. …
GOELMAN: But it’s not just Sara Bronfman [who] did that. The complaint also contains allegations that Clare Bronfman did that….. to Camila… [in] 2017 Ms. Clare Bronfman and Raniere were down in Mexico. And Camila, who was a potential witness to child sex abuse and child pornography against Raniere, was hidden away by others, primarily Clare Bronfman [and] told that the FBI was after her. And she was hidden in an apartment…
THE COURT: Let’s switch gears to [Sara Bronfman]…
GOELMAN: … Ms. Sara Bronfman says in her motion to dismiss … that the First Amended Complaint [is] vague [in its] allegation that Clare and Sara Bronfman provided the funds for the rent of premises and the purchases of equipment used in the unauthorized human research through ESF [Ethical Science Foundation] substantially assisting [Dr. Brandon] Porter. I don’t know how anyone can call that vague. It says how they assisted, what entity they used to funnel money, the specific use of the money.
MK10ART’s painting of the human experiments
THE COURT: … So which predicate act are we talking about here?
GOELMAN: …. Your Honor, [ESF] actually doesn’t have to do with the RICO claim. [As for the RICO claim a predicate act of RICO is] the witness tampering with Adrian.
Sara Bronfman attempts to get him to go abroad so that he can’t testify in the criminal case. … Sara Bronfman actually concedes that witness tampering is a plausible predicate. And you know, intimidation of witnesses is a primary tool in the Mafia tool kit –
THE COURT: [the complaint says that] In the days leading up to trial, Sara Bronfman and her husband attempted to obstruct by employing false pretenses and promises of money to entice Adrian to leave the United States, and remain outside of it through the criminal trial. I understand the import of that reference to money… I think … the specific monetary amount needs to be stated, but what are the false pretenses that you’re referring to?
GOELMAN: That he should go to Europe so that he can pursue this promising career opportunity.
THE COURT: Is that alleged in there or are you just saying false pretenses with no additional detail?… so the false pretense is that there’s a promising career opportunity awaiting him in Europe, assuming he departs now and stays out of the United States for the duration of the trial…. that’s one predicate act of witness tampering. What’s the second… predicate act [two predicate acts are required for RICO] that you allege as to Sara Bronfman?
GOELMAN: Aiding and abetting, immigration fraud. Founding an organization called ESF, which was supposedly to sponsor foreign nationals for educational scholarships so they could get visas to come to the United States. And then, putting these people to work in the Rainbow Cultural Garden, which Sara Bronfman founded and I believe ran. And then, that caused them to lose their immigration status….
THE COURT: So everybody who gives somebody who’s in the United States on a student visa a job, thus undermining their student visa immigration status, you’re saying is committing this crime?
GOELMAN: …If you sponsor students to come to the United States under the false pretense that they’re going to get a scholarship and they’re going to be a student. And what you really do is you put them to work and pay them very little and are aided by the fact that they’re then illegally in the country, that that qualifies for [immigration fraud]… a violation of [The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act 8 U.S.C. §] 1324 to encourage or induce aliens to come to or reside in the United States with knowledge or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to residence would violate the law. You have people come into the country under false pretenses, that’s against the law.
THE COURT: Okay, but all this says, if I look at [paragraphs] 705 and 706 [in the civil complaint], is that Sara, together with others established these two nonprofits. But you don’t say that she made any of the false representations about student immigration status or even that she knew about it… You’re just saying the fact that an entity that she started employed these people…
GOELMAN: Yeah, so she starts an entity, ESF, says we’re going to sponsor students to come in here on student visas, right? They get there and then a different entity, which she also founded and controls, [Rainbow Cultural Garden] put them –
THE COURT: Where does it say that she said that we’re going to sponsor people on student visas?
GOELMAN: … paragraph 6, that Defendants used ESF to sponsor foreign nationals for educational scholarships, so they could get visas to come to the United States.… I understand that, you know, a title by itself may not mean that a person actually did a particular action, but if you are the founder and operator of a fraudulent foundation, I think that it’s not too great a leap to say that, you knew or at least were willfully blind in not knowing what the foundation was doing….[This was] Ms. Sara Bronfman… her organization. And these are not, you know, multinational companies….
THE COURT:… So going back to the predicate acts alleged as to Sara Bronfman, the first one was witness tampering, right?
Sara Bronfman’s lawyer, James D Wareham spoke:
James Wareham of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP represents Sara Bronfman.
WAREHAM: …. Sara Bronfman left the United States in 2011. Sara Bronfman was never… a target in a criminal act that kind of underlies this thing. She was never a witness. She was interviewed –
THE COURT: Did she speak to… Adrian about leaving the country for the duration of the criminal trial?… I’m asking whether there’s even a general reference in the complaint to Sara Bronfman’s participation in this conversation about – [Adrian leaving the USA while the Raniere trial is ongoing]
GOELMAN: Paragraph 855, Your Honor. Sara Bronfman and her husband.
THE COURT:… Saying [to] somebody — I’ll set you up in a promising career opportunity in Europe if you leave the country right now, knowing that that person is a likely witness in a criminal trial that’s set to begin imminently, that’s –
WAREHAM: Well, that’s a hypothetical not in the complaint….
THE COURT: Okay. Put aside that for a moment. And talk to me about the second predicate act that we spoke to Mr. Goelman about, aiding and abetting immigration fraud through the establishment of the two entities [Rainbow Cultural Garden and Ethical Science Foundation].
WAREHAM: … There’s not a solitary allegation that Sara took any action with respect to any alien. None are identified in the amended complaint. They point to impermissible group pleading arguments, [accusing every defendant of everything in the complaint]…You got to talk about individual……cWe can’t tell who was harmed when or where by Sara Bronfman for any single count …
THE COURT: [we need to have a] level of specificity [as to whom Sara Bronfman harmed] if we can. Okay, so I think I have at least clarity in my mind…
Stay tuned for Part 4 when the judge turns his attention to Nicki Clyne.