Connect with us

World News

As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York

Published

on


Mr. Khuzami’s departure will not directly affect most of the other Trump-related investigations, which Mr. Berman has supervised. Mr. Berman’s name, for example, appeared on a February grand jury subpoena served on the president’s inaugural committee.

For the most part, the investigations surrounding the president and his associates have been assigned to career prosecutors in the office’s public corruption unit, which has a track record of convicting politicians on both sides of the aisle. Those prosecutors work on the eighth floor of the building, down the hall from Mr. Berman’s office.

The unit is led by two office veterans, Russell Capone and Edward B. Diskant, and although line prosecutors shift in and out — one assistant who worked on the Cohen inquiry, Rachel Maimin, recently went into private practice, and another, Andrea M. Griswold, returned to work full time on securities cases — the unit has a deep bench.

Two prosecutors who worked on the Cohen case, Thomas McKay and Nicolas Roos, remain in the unit. The investigations are overseen by the office’s criminal division, which recently got a new chief, Laura G. Birger; she succeeded Lisa Zornberg, who left the office to return to private practice.

Robert B. Fiske Jr., a former United States attorney in Manhattan who later served as the first independent counsel investigating the Whitewater matter during the Clinton administration, said the Southern District prosecutors would maintain the kind of professionalism associated with Mr. Mueller’s team.

“If the question is, should the public have confidence that there will be the same kind of integrity and independence in the Southern District of New York that there has been in the Mueller investigation, the answer is absolutely,” Mr. Fiske said.



Source link

Comments

comments

Continue Reading
Comments

World News

Should a White Man Be the Face of the Democratic Party in 2020?

Published

on


COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — As Peter Johnson and Emily Neal waited for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to arrive at Barley’s, a brick-lined sports bar in southwestern Iowa, they gamed out possible nominees in the Democratic presidential primary.

Mr. Johnson, a 27-year-old law student, said the large field was a great equalizer, and “if at the end of it we get an old white guy, someone who represents the status quo, it’ll be because they’ve proven themselves.”

Ms. Neal, a dental hygienist, made an agonized face at Mr. Johnson, her boyfriend. Wouldn’t something be lost, she asked, if the historically diverse slate of 2020 Democrats was passed over?

“Personally, I’d love to see a woman,” Ms. Neal, also 27, said at the event on Thursday night. “If people are being catty and holding gender or race against a candidate, it would break my heart.”

As former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepares to enter the 2020 race this coming week, Democrats have seen the strong diversity in their field — with candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris reflecting the multiracial and largely female base of the party — become somewhat overshadowed by white male candidates. Bernie Sanders has a wide fund-raising lead, he and Mr. Biden lead in polls, and Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have enjoyed outsize attention from voters in early primary states, extensive media coverage and viral success with online donors.

Interviews with several dozen Democratic voters around the country show how the party, which enjoyed victories in 2018 that were powered by female and nonwhite candidates, is now grappling with two complicated questions about race, gender and politics in the Trump era.

Is a white man the best face for an increasingly diverse Democratic Party in 2020? And what’s the bigger gamble: to nominate a white man and risk disappointing some of the party’s base, or nominate a minority candidate or a woman who might struggle to carry predominantly white swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that both Barack Obama and President Trump won?

Pam Van Arsdale, 64, of Bedford, N.H., said she would like to see a minority or female candidate catch fire, and worries that nominating a white man could cause some liberals to skip voting in November 2020.

“I consider myself a centrist, middle-of-the-road Democrat. And the progressive side worries me. What are they going to do? Are they going to sit it out if they don’t like the top candidate?” she said while attending a recent event for Cory Booker.

But Lee Kujawa, 72, of Wauwatosa, Wis., near Milwaukee, made a case for Mr. Biden, seeing him as “the most electable.”

“He can stand up to Trump,” said Mr. Kujawa, who said he believed the party would not pay a penalty by nominating its first white man since John Kerry in 2004. Referring to Mr. Biden, he said, “He could pick Kamala Harris as a running mate; she’s one of my top three favorites.”

[Who’s in? Who’s out? Keep up with the 2020 field with our candidate tracker.]

White men have largely ruled both the Democratic and Republican parties throughout American history, even as they have declined to roughly 30 percent of the population, and many voters still have preconceptions of presidents as white and male. Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders are starting off with other advantages as well: They are the best-known candidates at this stage, both with experience running for president, and they are well positioned to have the money and resources to compete through the 2020 primaries.

But as older white men, they are out of step with ascendant forces in the party today.

Women, minorities and young people are fueling much of its energy, and they are well represented by multiple well-qualified, politically savvy female and nonwhite Democrats who are running. Ms. Harris in particular has had a strong start in fund-raising, and only Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders consistently outpace her in polls.

The party also has a new primary calendar for 2020 that could help these candidates: The diverse Democratic electorates in California and Texas will vote earlier than usual, and candidates like Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker could also benefit from the sizable black vote in the early primary state of South Carolina.

Many of the voters interviewed said that the most important qualification was the ability to defeat Mr. Trump, who has come away from the recent release of the Mueller report more angry than elated and wants a political victory untainted by questions of legitimacy. To some, the best Democratic candidate will be one who can wrest voters who backed Mr. Trump in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as Democrats did somewhat successfully in 2018 to flip the House.

Jason Pinkowski, 35, who lives in the Milwaukee suburbs, crossed off several Democrats — Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders because they are too old, and Mr. O’Rourke because he is too young — to arrive at Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris as his current favorites.

“Long story short, if a Democrat decides to put time in the Midwest, I think he or she will have a good chance,” he said.

The presumption that Democrats will turn out in force to beat Mr. Trump, no matter who the nominee is, has hurt the party before. Hillary Clinton, her campaign strategy, the news media and the F.B.I. have all been blamed for her loss. For whatever reason, she lost votes in Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016 compared to Mr. Obama in 2012, including a notable falloff among black voters.

Mr. Trump, in turn, energized the Republican base, which appears to remain loyal to him for the most part, and also won over some Midwest voters who once backed Mr. Obama.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said the key to threading the electoral needle in 2020 was a diverse presidential ticket able to stop the hemorrhaging of white rural voters and to excite minority voters. He pointed to Senator Sherrod Brown’s success in Ohio in appealing to both electorates in his 2018 re-election in a state that otherwise voted for Republicans in statewide campaigns.

“If between the ticket you have someone who’s got that economic populist brand of a Sherrod Brown, but also the diversity that will energize Cuyahoga County so that you have a margin of 200,000-plus versus 150,000, I think you win Ohio and all the rest of those Midwest states,” Mr. Pepper said. He was referring to the Democrat-rich county dominated by the predominantly black city of Cleveland. (To be sure, Mr. Trump won Ohio by eight percentage points in 2016.)

[Keep track of the latest politics news with our newsletter.]

Others see the focus on electability as too limited — and even as an underhanded way to discount black and female candidates.

For this group, which includes voters and several political observers who focus on race and gender, there is a particular annoyance around code words they feel unduly penalize candidates. Questions about which contender is “electable” and who can “bring the country together” distract from areas where female and minority candidates may lead the pack, including policy proposals and who best energizes typical nonvoters.

Compounding these frustrations have been Ms. Warren’s campaign fund-raising struggles and the early buzz around candidates like Mr. O’Rourke, who himself has acknowledged that he benefits from white male privilege.

“Bringing the country together won’t happen right now, so just vote for the best progressive policy,” said Kyrsten Matthews, 29, who attended Ms. Warren’s Birmingham, Ala., rally. “I know that’s what I’m going to do.”

For some voters interviewed during Ms. Warren’s tour throughout the South, which included stops in heavily black communities in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, there was interest in candidates such as Mr. O’Rourke, Mr. Sanders or Mr. Biden because of factors unrelated to identity.

In Selma, Ala., Roderick West, 62, said he was looking to support Mr. Biden because of his experience as vice president. Supporters of Mr. Sanders say his calls for wide-scale change in the country’s economic order make him a transformational candidate, regardless of skin color. And some admirers of Mr. Buttigieg say that, as a gay man, he brings diversity to the field and would be a history-making nominee.

In conversations across eastern Iowa, Democratic voters acknowledged a feeling of whiplash after a midterm campaign defined largely by the success of women and people of color. Many of those interviewed seemed almost resigned to having a white male nominee, reserving their angst for what they view as a greater priority than diversity atop the Democratic ticket: defeating Mr. Trump.

“It’s important to appeal to Republicans. I don’t know if a minority candidate can do that,” Catherine Rohret, who will turn 18 in June, said moments after watching Mr. O’Rourke campaign in Waterloo, Iowa. “It hurts me to say because I’m a black woman. I would love to see a woman candidate.”

Rachel Cox, 35, from Iowa City, seemed exultant despite frigid temperatures moments after meeting Mr. O’Rourke at a St. Patrick’s Day 5K in North Liberty, Iowa. A former Texan who waited until after the 2018 midterms to switch her registration to Iowa — so she could vote for Mr. O’Rourke — Ms. Cox said that a white male candidate might be better positioned to build a winning coalition.

“There could be two sides to that story,” she said when asked if nominating another white man could depress turnout in some corners of the party. “Beto could bring a lot of moderate Republicans who are maybe a little bit averse to voting for women or voting for minorities.”

Ms. Cox had good reason to be concerned about the role of discrimination in voter choices. In several instances during Ms. Warren’s Southern tour, men who attended an event with the Massachusetts senator dismissed supporting her candidacy using sexist terminology.

“Trump will run over a woman,” Carl West, 64, said as he walked to see Ms. Warren at the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. “He’ll just run a woman into the ground.”

Diane Henning, 70, a retired bookkeeper outside of Milwaukee, disagreed sharply. She said it would be a mistake for Democrats to nominate a white man in 2020.

“There are so many good women out there who could do the job,” she said. “I think women are a lot more open-minded, we certainly have been all of these years.”

For Hannah Reid, 22, who is a graduating senior at the University of Tampa and heard Mr. Buttigieg at an event recently, her decision making on a Democratic candidate will go beyond identity.

“I am a woman of color, but that’s not all that I am,” said Ms. Reid, who is black. Referring to Mr. Buttigieg, she said: “He’s in the L.G.B.T. community, which is something we’ve never seen before. It’s got to be about more than just who you are; it’s got to be about what you think and what you say, what your ideas are.”



Source link

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

World News

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet

Published

on


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — When Boeing broke ground on its new factory near Charleston in 2009, the plant was trumpeted as a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub, building one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. But in the decade since, the factory, which makes the 787 Dreamliner, has been plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight that have threatened to compromise safety.

A New York Times review of hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, reveals a culture that often valued production speed over quality. Facing long manufacturing delays, Boeing pushed its work force to quickly turn out Dreamliners, at times ignoring issues raised by employees.

Complaints about the frenzied pace echo broader concerns about the company in the wake of two deadly crashes involving another jet, the 737 Max. Boeing is now facing questions about whether the race to get the Max done, and catch up to its rival Airbus, led it to miss safety risks in the design, like an anti-stall system that played a role in both crashes.

Safety lapses at the North Charleston plant have drawn the scrutiny of airlines and regulators. Qatar Airways stopped accepting planes from the factory after manufacturing mishaps damaged jets and delayed deliveries. Workers have filed nearly a dozen whistle-blower claims and safety complaints with federal regulators, describing issues like defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations. Others have sued Boeing, saying they were retaliated against for flagging manufacturing mistakes.

Joseph Clayton, a technician at the North Charleston plant, one of two facilities where the Dreamliner is built, said he routinely found debris dangerously close to wiring beneath cockpits.

“I’ve told my wife that I never plan to fly on it,” he said. “It’s just a safety issue.”

In an industry where safety is paramount, the collective concerns involving two crucial Boeing planes — the company’s workhorse, the 737 Max, and another crown jewel, the 787 Dreamliner — point to potentially systemic problems. Regulators and lawmakers are taking a deeper look at Boeing’s priorities, and whether profits sometimes trumped safety. The leadership of Boeing, one of the country’s largest exporters, now finds itself in the unfamiliar position of having to defend its practices and motivations.

“Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history,” Kevin McAllister, Boeing’s head of commercial airplanes, said in a statement. “I am proud of our teams’ exceptional commitment to quality and stand behind the work they do each and every day.”

All factories deal with manufacturing errors, and there is no evidence that the problems in South Carolina have led to any major safety incidents. The Dreamliner has never crashed, although the fleet was briefly grounded after a battery fire. Airlines, too, have confidence in the Dreamliner.

But workers sometimes made dangerous mistakes, according to the current and former Boeing employees, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation.

Faulty parts have been installed in planes. Tools and metal shavings have routinely been left inside jets, often near electrical systems. Aircraft have taken test flights with debris in an engine and a tail, risking failure.

On several planes, John Barnett, a former quality manager who worked at Boeing for nearly three decades and retired in 2017, discovered clusters of metal slivers hanging over the wiring that commands the flight controls. If the sharp metal pieces — produced when fasteners were fitted into nuts — penetrate the wires, he said, it could be “catastrophic.”

Mr. Barnett, who filed a whistle-blower complaint with regulators, said he had repeatedly urged his bosses to remove the shavings. But they refused and moved him to another part of the plant.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, Lynn Lunsford, said the agency had inspected several planes certified by Boeing as free of such debris and found those same metal slivers. In certain circumstances, he said, the problem can lead to electrical shorts and cause fires.

Officials believe the shavings may have damaged an in-service airplane on one occasion in 2012, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The F.A.A. issued a directive in 2017 requiring that Dreamliners be cleared of shavings before they are delivered. Boeing said it was complying and was working with the supplier to improve the design of the nut. But it has determined that the issue does not present a flight safety issue.

“As a quality manager at Boeing, you’re the last line of defense before a defect makes it out to the flying public,” Mr. Barnett said. “And I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on saying it’s safe and airworthy.”

Less than a month after the crash of the second 737 Max jet, Boeing called North Charleston employees to an urgent meeting. The company had a problem: Customers were finding random objects in new planes.

A senior manager implored workers to check more carefully, invoking the crashes. “The company is going through a very difficult time right now,” he said, according to two employees who were present and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

So-called foreign object debris is a common issue in aviation. Employees are supposed to clean the bowels of the aircraft as they work, often with a vacuum, so they don’t accidentally contaminate the planes with shavings, tools, parts or other items.

But debris has remained a persistent problem in South Carolina. In an email this month, Brad Zaback, the head of the 787 program, reminded the North Charleston staff that stray objects left inside planes “can potentially have serious safety consequences when left unchecked.”

The issue has cost Boeing at other plants. In March, the Air Force halted deliveries of the KC-46 tanker, built in Everett, Wash., after finding a wrench, bolts and trash inside new planes.

“To say it bluntly, this is unacceptable,” Will Roper, an assistant secretary of the Air Force, told a congressional subcommittee in March. “Our flight lines are spotless. Our depots are spotless, because debris translates into a safety issue.”

Boeing said it was working to address the issue with the Air Force, which resumed deliveries this month.

At the North Charleston plant, the current and former workers describe a losing battle with debris.

“I’ve found tubes of sealant, nuts, stuff from the build process,” said Rich Mester, a former technician who reviewed planes before delivery. Mr. Mester was fired, and a claim was filed on his behalf with the National Labor Relations Board over his termination. “They’re supposed to have been inspected for this stuff, and it still makes it out to us.”

Employees have found a ladder and a string of lights left inside the tails of planes, near the gears of the horizontal stabilizer. “It could have locked up the gears,” Mr. Mester said.

Dan Ormson, who worked for American Airlines until retiring this year, regularly found debris while inspecting Dreamliners in North Charleston, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

Mr. Ormson discovered loose objects touching electrical wiring and rags near the landing gear. He often collected bits and pieces in zip-lock bags to show one of the plant’s top executives, Dave Carbon.

The debris can create hazardous situations. One of the people said Mr. Ormson had once found a piece of Bubble Wrap near the pedal the co-pilot uses to control the plane’s direction, which could have jammed midflight.

On a Dreamliner that Boeing had already given a test flight, Mr. Ormson saw that a bolt was loose inside one of the engines. The small piece of metal could have caused the engine to malfunction.

American Airlines said it conducted rigorous inspections of new planes before putting them into service. “We have confidence in the 787s we have in our fleet,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the airline.

When it was unveiled in 2007, the 787 Dreamliner was Boeing’s most important new plane in a generation. The wide-body jet, with a lightweight carbon fiber fuselage and advanced technology, was a hit with carriers craving fuel savings.

Airlines ordered hundreds of the planes, which cost upward of $200 million each. Spurred by high demand, Boeing set up a new factory.

North Charleston was ideal in many ways. South Carolina has the lowest percentage of union representation in the nation, giving Boeing a potentially less expensive work force.

South Carolina doled out nearly $1 billion in tax incentives, including $33 million to train local workers. Boeing pledged to create 3,800 jobs.

While Boeing has nurtured generations of aerospace professionals in the Seattle area, there was no comparable work force in South Carolina. Instead, managers had to recruit from technical colleges in Tulsa, Okla., and Atlanta.

Managers were also urged to not hire unionized employees from the Boeing factory in Everett, where the Dreamliner is also made, according to two former employees.

“They didn’t want us bringing union employees out to a nonunion area,” said David Kitson, a former quality manager, who oversaw a team responsible for ensuring that planes are safe to fly.

“We struggled with that,” said Mr. Kitson, who retired in 2015. “There wasn’t the qualified labor pool locally.” Another former manager, Michael Storey, confirmed his account.

The 787 was already running years behind schedule because of manufacturing hiccups and supplier delays. The labor shortages in North Charleston only made it worse.

The initial excitement when the first Dreamliners entered service in late 2011 was short lived. A little more than a year later, the entire fleet was grounded after a battery fire on a Japan Airlines plane.

Boeing was forced to compensate carriers, hurting profit. All the while, the production delays mounted, and Airbus was close behind with a rival plane, the A350.

In North Charleston, the time crunch had consequences. Hundreds of tools began disappearing, according to complaints filed in 2014 with the F.A.A. by two former managers, Jennifer Jacobsen and David McClaughlin. Some were “found lying around the aircraft,” Ms. Jacobsen said in her complaint.

The two managers also said they had been pushed to cover up delays. Managers told employees to install equipment out of order to make it “appear to Boeing executives in Chicago, the aircraft purchasers and Boeing’s shareholders that the work is being performed on schedule, where in fact the aircraft is far behind schedule,” according to their complaints.

The F.A.A. investigated the complaints and didn’t find violations on its visit to the plant in early 2014. But the agency said it had previously found “improper tool control” and the “presence of foreign object debris.”

Both managers left after they were accused of inaccurately approving the time sheets of employees who did not report to them. They both claim they were retaliated against for flagging violations. Through their lawyer, Rob Turkewitz, they declined to comment.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for Boeing, said, “We prioritize safety and quality over speed, but all three can be accomplished while still producing one of the safest airplanes flying today.”

Planes were also damaged during manufacturing. A Dreamliner built for American Airlines suffered a flood in the cabin so severe that seats, ceiling panels, carpeting and electronics had to be replaced in a weekslong process.

While inspecting a plane being prepared for delivery, Mr. Clayton, the technician currently at the plant, recently found chewing gum holding together part of a door’s trim. “It was not a safety issue, but it’s not what you want to present to a customer,” he said.

An employee filed a complaint about the gum with the F.A.A. The agency is investigating, an F.A.A. official said.

[If you’ve worked at Boeing and want to discuss your experience, reach us confidentially here.]

The disarray frustrated one major carrier. In 2014, factory employees were told to watch a video from the chief executive of Qatar Airways.

He chastised the North Charleston workers, saying he was upset that Boeing wasn’t being transparent about the length or cause of delays. In several instances, workers had damaged the exterior of planes made for the airline, requiring Boeing to push back delivery to fix the jets.

Ever since, Qatar has bought only Dreamliners built in Everett.

In a statement, Qatar Airways said it “continues to be a long-term supporter of Boeing and has full confidence in all its aircraft and manufacturing facilities.”

In the interest of meeting deadlines, managers sometimes played down or ignored problems, according to current and former workers.

Mr. Barnett, the former quality manager, who goes by Swampy in a nod to his Louisiana roots, learned in 2016 that a senior manager had pulled a dented hydraulic tube from a scrap bin, he said. He said the tube, part of the central system controlling the plane’s movement, was installed on a Dreamliner.

Mr. Barnett said the senior manager had told him, “Don’t worry about it.” He filed a complaint with human resources, company documents show.

He also reported to management that defective parts had gone missing, raising the prospect that they had been installed in planes. His bosses, he said, told him to finish the paperwork on the missing parts without figuring out where they had gone.

The F.A.A. investigated and found that Boeing had lost some damaged parts. Boeing said that as a precautionary matter, it had sent notices to airlines about the issue. The company said it had also investigated the flawed hydraulic tube and hadn’t substantiated Mr. Barnett’s claims.

“Safety issues are immediately investigated, and changes are made wherever necessary,” said the Boeing spokesman, Mr. Johndroe.

But several former employees said high-level managers pushed internal quality inspectors to stop recording defects.

Cynthia Kitchens, a former quality manager, said her superiors penalized her in performance reviews and berated her on the factory floor after she flagged wire bundles rife with metal shavings and defective metal parts that had been installed on planes.

“It was intimidation,” she said. “Every time I started finding stuff, I was harassed.”

Ms. Kitchens left in 2016 and sued Boeing for age and sex discrimination. The case was dismissed.

Some employees said they had been punished or fired when they voiced concerns.

Mr. Barnett was reprimanded in 2014 for documenting errors. In a performance review seen by The Times, a senior manager downgraded him for “using email to express process violations,” instead of engaging “F2F,” or face to face.

He took that to mean he shouldn’t put problems in writing. The manager said Mr. Barnett needed to get better at “working in the gray areas and help find a way while maintaining compliance.”

Liam Wallis, a former quality manager, said in a wrongful-termination lawsuit that Boeing had fired him after he discovered that planes were being manufactured using obsolete engineering specifications. Mr. Wallis also said in the suit, filed in March, that an employee who didn’t exist had signed off on the repairs of an aircraft.

His boss had criticized him in the past for writing up violations, according to the lawsuit and emails reviewed by The Times. Boeing said it had fired Mr. Wallis for falsifying documents.

Through his lawyers, Mr. Wallis declined to comment for this article. Boeing has denied his claims and moved to dismiss the case.

In North Charleston, the pace of production has quickened. Starting this year, Boeing is producing 14 Dreamliners a month, split between North Charleston and Everett, up from the previous 12. At the same time, Boeing said it was eliminating about a hundred quality control positions in North Charleston.

“They’re trying to shorten the time of manufacturing,” said Mr. Mester, the former mechanic. “But are you willing to sacrifice the safety of our product to maximize profit?”

[The reporters on this article can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]]



Source link

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

World News

Clare Bronfman Pleads Guilty in Nxivm ‘Sex Cult’ Case, Leaving Leader to Stand Trial Alone

Published

on


[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]

Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, was among the most high-profile members of a cultlike organization in which some women were branded and compelled to have sex with the leader. Her wealth helped finance the group, known as Nxivm.

But on Friday afternoon, Ms. Bronfman, 40, pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Brooklyn to charges arising from an indictment filed last year against her and several other followers of the group’s leader, Keith Raniere.

“I am truly remorseful,” Ms. Bronfman told Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis as she pleaded guilty to conspiring to conceal and harbor an undocumented immigrant for financial gain, and fraudulent use of identification. “I wanted to do good in the world.”

A few minutes later, the group’s longtime bookkeeper, Kathy Russell, 61, pleaded guilty to one count of visa fraud.

The latest guilty pleas mean Mr. Raniere will stand trial alone next month on federal racketeering charges, occupying center stage without the women who once idolized and supported him. In recent weeks, three of his other co-defendants, including the actress Allison Mack, have pleaded guilty to various charges.

Based near Albany, Nxivm billed itself as a self-help organization, offering workshops that promised self-fulfillment. But it had a dark side. Some women were recruited into a secret order within the group, branded on the pelvis with a symbol containing Mr. Raniere’s initials, and coerced into having sex with him, prosecutors said.

Federal authorities began investigating the organization after The New York Times published an article in late 2017 detailing how women had to provide personal secrets as “collateral” to join Mr. Raniere’s secret sorority and were warned that damaging or embarrassing information would be made public if they disclosed the sorority’s existence.

Since then, federal officials have filed wide-ranging charges against Mr. Raniere and other leaders and officials of Nxivm. An indictment unsealed last year accused Mr. Raniere and his followers of taking part in a racketeering enterprise that was involved in identity theft, money laundering, sex trafficking and extortion, among other things.

In March, Mr. Raniere was additionally charged with having a sexual relationship with two underage girls, including one who was said to be 15 years old when the abuse began.

Ms. Bronfman is the youngest daughter of Edgar Bronfman, the former chairman of Seagram Company who died in 2013. She had been one of Mr. Raniere’s most passionate followers.

A former champion equestrian, she joined Nxivm in the early 2000s and eventually became his legal enforcer, filing and financing lawsuits against his enemies, both real and perceived.

A prosecutor, Moira Penza, told the court on Friday that Ms. Bronfman had made a false statement to the government about an undocumented immigrant who provided “labor and service” for herself and Nxivm. Ms. Bronfman had also made it possible for Mr. Raniere to use a credit card belonging to someone who had died, Ms. Penza said.

Ms. Bronfman admitted to the court she had committed those crimes. In a barely audible voice, she told Judge Garaufis that she had been born into “immense privilege,” but had broken the law. Ms. Bronfman’s plea agreement with the government calls for her to forfeit $6 million, Judge Garaufis said in court.

Ms. Russell was the group’s bookkeeper for more than a decade and was indicted on two counts of racketeering conspiracy last July.

She pleaded guilty to a single count of visa fraud, acknowledging to the court that in early 2014, she had made false statements in a document to the United States Consulate in Mexico to help a woman named Loreta Garza Davila obtain a visa.

“I’m very sorry for the trouble I have caused,” Ms. Russell told the judge, her voice breaking. “I compromised my own principles.”

Ms. Russell faces between six months and a year in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. She will be sentenced on July 31. Ms. Bronfman faces between 21 and 27 months in prison and will be sentenced on July 25.

Mr. Raniere has denied all the charges against him. “We are going to trial,” his lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said on Friday. “We don’t believe Ms. Russell and Ms. Bronfman should have been charged, and we are happy they’re out of the case.”

Court papers have described Nxivm as a rigorously hierarchical organization in which Mr. Raniere, who was known as “Vanguard,” demanded obedience from followers. High-ranking members who answered to Mr. Raniere could be equally demanding of those below them.

In March, a co-founder of the group, Nancy Salzman, known as “Prefect,” pleaded guilty. Ms. Salzman, who founded Nxivm in the 1990s with Mr. Raniere, was charged with identity theft and altering records to influence the outcome of a lawsuit against the organization.

Earlier this month, Ms. Mack, an actress who had appeared on the television show “Smallville,” also pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors described Ms. Mack as “a first-line master” in the group’s secret sorority, known as D.O.S., an acronym for a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions.”

Prosecutors said that group was organized into circles of female “slaves,” who were led by “masters,” and was meant to groom sexual partners for Mr. Raniere. The women in D.O.S., prosecutors said, were required to give their recruiter, or “master,” naked photographs or other compromising material.

When Ms. Mack was arrested last year, officials said she had recruited women as “slaves” and had required them to have sex with Mr. Raniere.

But during her guilty plea, Ms. Mack did not say whether women were blackmailed into engaging in sexual acts with the group’s leader. She only acknowledged obtaining “labor and services” from two anonymous women cited in the indictment.

As part of a criminal complaint, an F.B.I. agent said Mr. Raniere had a “rotating group of fifteen to twenty women” with whom he maintained sexual relations. Those women were allowed to have sex only with him, the agent added.



Source link

Comments

comments

Continue Reading
General News3 days ago

Nairobi Lawyer Stephen Gitonga Linked To Sexual Relations With Desperate Divorcing Women

General News4 weeks ago

Kenya Airways to go ahead with deal to buy Boeing 737 Max plane model rejected by over 50 countries

Sports3 weeks ago

Premier Soccer League star midfielder Sinethemba Jantjie killed in car accident ▷ Kenya News

Business News4 weeks ago

KCB roars Co-op Bank into life in Twitter meme battle

Politics5 days ago

Names of KeNHA employees whose bank accounts are being investigated – Weekly Citizen

Entertainment4 weeks ago

Confidential memo to Uhuru on how to crush DP Ruto, eliminate corruption

Sports4 weeks ago

The Standard – Kenya: Black stars Vs Harambee stars combined 10: How the two sides compare ahead of AFCON qualifier | The Standard

General News4 weeks ago

Deputy minister among 11 killed in Somalia attack

General News4 weeks ago

American wanted over murder living large in US

Sports4 weeks ago

Osaka stunned by Hsieh, injured Serena withdraws in Miami

General News4 weeks ago

BA flight lands in Edinburgh by mistake

General News4 weeks ago

Ngong Road 12-day improvement works to cause traffic : The Standard

General News4 weeks ago

Ethiopian Airlines CEO promises to find out why flight 302 crashed

Entertainment4 weeks ago

‘Beautiful memories you left, remain fresh,’ family buries dirt of ET302 flight victim

Sports4 weeks ago

Messi to start Venezuela friendly on Argentina return

Entertainment4 weeks ago

Billionaire Carlos Slim to retire: Mexican president

General News4 weeks ago

UK PM May fights for survival as parliament plots Brexit Plan B » Capital News

Business News2 weeks ago

What is huduma namba? Here’s all you want to know

General News3 weeks ago

Theresa May pledges to quit to save Brexit plan

General News4 weeks ago

Willie Kimani murder suspects plead for bond

Sports30 mins ago

The Standard – Kenya: Guardiola admits Manchester City could have lost the Premier League after Tottenham match | The Standard

Entertainment36 mins ago

Serbian late strongman Milosevic’s widow buried

Trending Videos53 mins ago

Key questions of lawyer who shot his son dead

Trending Videos54 mins ago

Mzozo wa Kenya na Somalia

Trending Videos55 mins ago

Is the Kenyan Media actively involved in agenda setting? | The Newsroom

Trending Videos56 mins ago

Property worth thousands of shillings destroyed in Kangemi fire

Trending Videos57 mins ago

A 15-year-old boy appeals for medical aid after being diagnosed with Leucaemia

Sports59 mins ago

The Standard – Kenya: North Rift ready for second edition of Eldoret City Marathon [Photos] | The Standard

General News1 hour ago

Sudan investigating Bashir after currencies worth Ksh.729M found

General News1 hour ago

Migori doctors on strike, demand that county enforces CBA

General News1 hour ago

Nairobi hospital now says cholera patients down to 7

General News1 hour ago

Five Ugandan police freed after brief detention in Kenya : The Standard

General News2 hours ago

Makanisa yanatumiwa kunadhifisha pesa za ufisadi, Raila asema ▷ Kenya News

Sports2 hours ago

Mamelodi Sundowns beat relegation threatened Baroka FC

World News2 hours ago

Should a White Man Be the Face of the Democratic Party in 2020?

Columns And Opinions2 hours ago

EA must fear rallying of world powers, militaries in Red Sea arena

Trending Videos2 hours ago

East Africa's Got Talent official launch

Trending Videos2 hours ago

Newspaper Review: Fate of 7 Kenyan envoys in Limbo

Trending Videos2 hours ago

Ahadi za Inspekta mkuu wa Polisi mpya Hillary Mutyambai

Trending Videos2 hours ago

Maafisa wakuu wa serikali ya kaunti wapata dhamana ya milioni kumi

Facebook

Dont Miss!

Sports30 mins ago

The Standard – Kenya: Guardiola admits Manchester City could have lost the Premier League after Tottenham match | The Standard

By AFP: 205 Saturday, April 20th 2019 at 17:46 GMT +3 | Football Pep Guardiola [Courtesy] Pep Guardiola hailed his...

Entertainment36 mins ago

Serbian late strongman Milosevic’s widow buried

Dozens of people — but no close family — attended the service which was conducted by a Serbian Orthodox priest...

Trending Videos53 mins ago

Key questions of lawyer who shot his son dead

Police are tonight investigating circumstances under which a Nairobi based lawyer Assa Nyakundi ‘accidentally’ shot his son dead. Nyakundi is...

Trending Videos54 mins ago

Mzozo wa Kenya na Somalia

source Comments comments

Trending Videos55 mins ago

Is the Kenyan Media actively involved in agenda setting? | The Newsroom

SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more great videos: https://www.youtube.com/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KTNNews Like us on Facebook: …...

Trending Videos56 mins ago

Property worth thousands of shillings destroyed in Kangemi fire

Property worth thousands of shilling was last night destroyed in a fire, that started at about 8pm in Kangemi’s Sodom...

Trending Videos57 mins ago

A 15-year-old boy appeals for medical aid after being diagnosed with Leucaemia

http://www.nation.co.ke A 15-year-old boy is appealing for medical aid after being diagnosed for Leucaemia. Ivan Obade, an orphan in Class...

Sports59 mins ago

The Standard – Kenya: North Rift ready for second edition of Eldoret City Marathon [Photos] | The Standard

By Robert Abong’o and Stephen Rutto : 205 Saturday, April 20th 2019 at 17:34 GMT +3 | Athletics Athletes at...

General News1 hour ago

Sudan investigating Bashir after currencies worth Ksh.729M found

Sudan’s public prosecutor has begun investigating ousted President Omar al-Bashir on charges of money laundering and possession of large sums...

General News1 hour ago

Migori doctors on strike, demand that county enforces CBA

Doctors in Migori county have gone on strike demanding that authorities implement the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the move has...

General News1 hour ago

Nairobi hospital now says cholera patients down to 7

The Nairobi Hospital has said seven patients affected by cholera are still admitted at the facility. A statement dated Saturday,...

General News1 hour ago

Five Ugandan police freed after brief detention in Kenya : The Standard

Scrap metal that Ugandan police officers were pursuing before they were arrested by Kenyan police officers at Weighbridge in Busia...

General News2 hours ago

Makanisa yanatumiwa kunadhifisha pesa za ufisadi, Raila asema ▷ Kenya News

-Raila alisema kuwa kanisa limebadilishwa na kuwa kizingiti katika vita dhidi ya ufisadi -Aliyakosoa makanisa kwa kupokea misaada ya fedha...

Sports2 hours ago

Mamelodi Sundowns beat relegation threatened Baroka FC

Mamelodi Sundowns beat Baroka FC 2-1 in an Absa Premiership match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday. As a...

World News2 hours ago

Should a White Man Be the Face of the Democratic Party in 2020?

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — As Peter Johnson and Emily Neal waited for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to arrive at Barley’s, a...

Categories

Trending

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com