Keith Raniere has filed a Rule 33 motion for a new trial.
He bases his motion mainly on a report by J. Richard Kiper, a retired FBI Special Agent. His employment with the FBI focused on training FBI forensic examiners to analyze digital evidence and detect tampering and fraud.
On March 27, 2018, the FBI raided Keith Raniere’s library at 8 Hale Dr. in Half Moon, NY. Agents seized digital devices, including a Western Digital hard drive, a Canon camera, and a CF card inside the camera.
Eleven months later, FBI Special Agent Michael Lever found 22 images of Camila in a folder called ‘Studies’ on the hard drive.
The metadata indicates that a Canon camera took the photos in 2003 – one year before Canon manufactured the camera – or in 2005. Camila was 15 in 2005.
The FBI found that some files on the Lexar CF card match those on the hard drive.
The FBI’s theory, which was persuasive to the jury, was that Raniere took the photos of Camila and other adult women in 2005 with his Canon camera. He saved them on the Lexar CF card. Later, he transferred the photos from the CF card to a Dell computer, which the FBI did not recover.
Later, purportedly in 2009, he transferred the photos to a Western Digital hard drive, which he last accessed in 2010.
He kept the hard drive on a shelf above his computers in his library for eight years until the FBI took it.
Raniere in his library in front of the hard drive – with the blue light. The hard drive had no password protection; anybody could access it.
While the FBI seized the hard drive on March 27, 2018, FBI Special Agent Lever found the contraband photos 11 months later – in February 2019 – about 45 days before the scheduled trial.
Raniere claims the FBI tampered with the photos of Camila.
See FR’s previous posts:
Kiper’s third finding is:
An unknown person accessed the CF card on 9/19/18, thereby altering file system dates, while it was in the custody of FBI Special Agent Michael Lever.
According to the CF card file listing, the Accessed dates for all the active files were changed to 09/19/2018.
At a minimum… file system dates on the CF card were altered… six months after it was collected by the FBI….
The … FBI did not use a write blocker to preserve the evidence, which is a “critical procedure” according to FBI CART SOP 4.3
According to the FBI Chain of Custody for the Camera and CF card, Case Agent Michael Lever checked out these items from Evidence Control on 09/19/2018 and returned them on 09/26/2018
SA Lever recorded his purpose for accepting custody as “Evidence Review.”
SA Lever was… not authorized to review the unexamined digital evidence.
The FBI’s Digital Evidence Policy Guide expressly prohibits any “Undocumented, ‘off the record’ searches or reviews of digital evidence” and permits investigators to review digital evidence only after it has been processed by an authorized method.
This altered access date proves a violation of FBI protocol. The FBI is not supposed to change data on digital devices.
Before an agent reviews a digital device, CART [Computer Analysis and Response Team] is required to make a forensic copy or clone.
In the Raniere case, the FBI accessed the device before it was cloned.
In addition, a second FTK report was made from the original digital device, not from the clone – which is another violation.
Despite a discovery requirement, the prosecution chose not to share a digital copy of the CF card with the defense.
Unauthorized FBI employee accessed CF Card.
FBI Special Agent Mike Lever checked the CF card out of evidence control for 7 days. This is hard to explain, because a special agent is not supposed to access original digital devices.
While SA Lever had custody of the CF card, which he was not supposed to access, someone did access it – on September 19, 2018.
Whoever accessed it did not use a write blocker, which is another violation of FBI requirements.
SA Lever was not the only FBI agent to handle the CF card.
According to the FBI Chain of Custody, Special Agent Maegan Rees checked out the Canon camera and the CF card for “Review” on July 10, 2018. She kept the them for 17 days.
Why did she have the digital Camera and CF card – which she was prohibited from inspecting – for more than two weeks?
She is also not a CART examiner and also would be prohibited from reviewing unexamined digital evidence. However, if she did access the CF card without a write blocker, then the last Accessed dates would have been overwritten two months later by the actions of SA Lever, who did access the CF card without a write blocker.
Therefore, there is no doubt the CF card was accessed by at least one unauthorized FBI employee using an unauthorized process.
FBI Senior Computer Scientist Loveall did not dispute Kiper’s “Third Finding.”
Loveall wrote: “With respect to the third finding, the camera card was accessed on September 19, 2018. This is consistent with accessing the contents of the card without a write-blocker.”
He does not dispute the violation of FBI protocol.