Nxivm insider, Barbara Bouchey, says that she was driven into
In October 2003, Saratoga Springs based financial planner
Barbara Bouchey told a reporter from the local daily that
the training people receive from her company, Nxivm, gives
them results that they “have never experienced before. . .
. People can’t explain it.”
Bouchey was one of Nxivm’s most prominent and active local
boosters. Inside the operation, she was a key player, a leader
within the management, and high in the organization’s seemingly
arbitrary and strict hierarchy. According to sources, Bouchey
was even the original organizer of Vanguard Week, the weeklong
celebration surrounding the birth of Nxivm’s founder, Keith
She was also Raniere’s girlfriend.
Now, after nearly seven years with the company, Bouchey has
become a pariah among her former colleagues, and has joined
the embattled ranks of Nxivm critics. Her explosive affidavit
filed earlier this year is a key document in a court battle
being waged over a California real-estate deal between a former
business associate of Raniere’s and Seagram’s heiresses—and
Nxivm benefactors—Clare and Sara Bronfman. In the affidavit,
Bouchey alleged that Raniere is a compulsive gambler who burned
through roughly $65 million of the Bronfmans’ considerable
inheritance on commodities trading.
On June 11, Bouchey, a former financial adviser whose firm
dealt solely with clients with at least $1 million to invest,
declared bankruptcy. She is claiming $2.5 million in undisputed
liabilities, including a personal loan of $1.3 million from
a longtime Nxivm member, Michael Sutton. Among her disputed
creditors, she listed her former clients the Bronfman sisters.
Bouchey is arguing in her filing that she was driven into
bankruptcy by the Bronfman sisters, who have chased her through
four court cases in three states in an effort to extract any
and all documents generated while she managed some of their
financial affairs. The sisters are claiming that Bouchey has
disseminated these documents to the press and to hostile lawyers
in an effort to embarrass, discredit and injure them.
Bouchey is arguing that she has already surrendered all original
documentation to the sisters, and that all she has left are
copies—copies, she claims, that she is legally bound to keep.
Bouchey alleged that the reason the sisters are so adamant
to secure these records is because they contain evidence that
the sisters have engaged “in a myriad of activities that are
questionable and, in some cases, potentially illegal.”
According to a filing made by Bouchey’s lawyer, Richard Croak,
“Clare and Sara Bronfman are members of the Nxivm cult. The
debtor, Barbara Bouchey, is a prior cult member. Over the
years it has been the cult’s modus operandi to harass former
members with frivolous law suits.”
Multiple attempts by Metroland to contact representatives
of Nxivm have gone un-returned.
Bouchey has chosen not to speak with the press, yet multiple
sources attest that she has contracted the service of a New
York City-based public-relations firm in an effort to control
her image. Numerous national media outlets have begun to gain
interest in the story of the millionaire heiresses and their
financial backing of an alleged cult. Sources say that reporters
representing New York magazine, Vanity Fair,
and even 20/20 have begun preliminary research. A reporter
from Canada’s Maclean’s is also working on the story.
The courtroom is not a new place for Nxivm’s critics and former
members to find themselves. Rick Ross, the controversial “cult
deprogrammer,” has been in legal battles with Nxivm for years.
Joe O’Hara, a former Nxivm employee, declared bankruptcy after
being accused of stealing $2 million from the Bronfman sisters.
According to sources, Susan Dones, owner of a Nxivm training
center in Tacoma, Wash., and her business partner are preparing
to declare bankruptcy.
And Toni Natalie, a former girlfriend of Raniere’s, spent
eight years and four months in bankruptcy court, as she put
it, defending herself from Raniere. The case ended in her
favor, with Judge Robert Littlefield, the same judge whom
Bouchey is before, concluding, “This matter smacks of a jilted
fellow’s attempt at revenge or retaliation against his former
is my belief, and in part the belief of the court, that this
action against Barbara is being directed by Keith,” Natalie
said, “in order to keep her tied up in the legal system for
as long as possible. That’s exactly what they did to me.”
Natalie alleged that Raniere uses the court system—and other
people’s money—to win wars of attrition with his enemies.
“With the many high-powered lawyers and the many legal battles
they have brought on, are in now, and most likely will continue,
this seems to be their weapon of choice to silence people.”
(Correction: In the print article, Judge Robert Littlefield was incorrectly referenced as Judge Richard Littlefield.)
of MoveOn.Org rallied Tuesday outside the offices of Sens.
Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer and Rep. Paul Tonko in
Albany to “thank them for their support of Clean Energy legislation,
and legislation that prevents a Big Oil bailout paid for by
taxpayers and eliminates the cap on what BP will have to pay
to clean up the spills they’ve caused.” The activists called
attention to the cozy relationship Big Oil has fostered with
the federal government over decades. A similar protest is
planned for this evening outside the Saratoga Springs office
of Rep. Scott Murphy.
County legislators clash over a vote on the future of a foreclosed
Center Square property
On Monday, the Albany County Legislature voted to give a former
Center Square resident a second chance to own her foreclosed
home. It was a success story, said legislator Shawn Morse.
“The best-case scenario is that the person who fell on the
hard times is able to buy, and keep, their house,” Morse said.
Six years ago, according to Morse, Pauline Dryden Neilson,
the owner of 313 Hudson Ave., had fallen on hard times, and
vacated her property under difficult personal circumstances.
She let the house fall into disrepair. Significant back taxes
Late last year, Albany County began the process of filing
foreclosure judgments for properties with delinquent taxes
from 2004, and 313 Hudson was in this group. During a tax
amnesty program, Neilson made a payment of $13,000 of the
$32,000 owed, but by March 2010, the county had taken ownership.
In April of 2010, Neilson came back to the county to pay for
the remaining debt with the money from a life insurance plan,
Morse said, but this payment could not be accepted due to
the foreclosure. Neilson was told that she would need legislative
approval to be allowed to buy back her house. So she contacted
the legislature asking for the right to repurchase the property
after almost six years, and Morse said that he was more than
happy to afford Neilson a second chance.
think the right thing to do is give the lady her house back,”
he said. Morse, along with other members of the legislature’s
leadership, put forward the legislation Monday night that
would sell Neilson her house. The bill passed by an overwhelming
majority, despite the complaints of legislator Chris Higgins,
who represents the Center Square neighborhood.
Higgins was one of only two legislators to vote against selling
the building back to her. “This woman is not a good neighbor,
she is not a good property owner, she has not lived in this
building for over six years as far as I can tell,” he said.
“She has allowed it to fall apart essentially.”
Neilson did not attend Monday night’s meeting and could not
be reached for comment.
Typically, after three years of unpaid taxes and neglect have
occurred on a city property, the county is free to begin processing
the foreclosure of the property.
Once the property has been foreclosed, the county puts it
up for auction through the Albany County Real Property Auction.
It does not necessarily go to the highest bidder; bidders
must fill out a form specifying their intended plans for the
property, expected time of rehabilitation, their monetary
means of achieving their goals, and disclosure of previously
purchased property from the county for restoration.
whatever reason, now I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt
maybe some hard times have fallen on her, but she hasn’t paid
her taxes,” Higgins said. “The county should not be rewarding
bad behavior. Allowing a person the right to a property that
is no longer legally theirs, when they have already let it
fall into disrepair before, could lead to more of the same.”
Higgins pointed out that there were other bidders interested
in the house, including a businessman willing to pay $90,000.
other issue I have,” Higgins said, “is this is a unique neighborhood;
it is a historic neighborhood. I live on Hudson Ave. I live
right down the street from this property. These buildings
are all attached to one another, they’re row houses, and when
one property owner doesn’t take care of their house it affects
adversely the property owners who have the adjoining buildings.
And they should not have to bear responsibility on another
difference between Chris Higgins and myself,” said Morse,
“is that I believe the county government has always existed
as a government who helps people in their trying times in
life. And we’re not in the business of stealing people’s houses
so that a company can buy and make a profit and sell them.
I’m not going to do that on the back of somebody who’s been
through some tough times in life, been in a rut, who has clawed
her way back out and now has probably taken every dime she
has to pay back these back taxes, penalties and fees and bought
her house back.”
still think that it’s amazing that 35 of my colleagues chose
to give this property back to a delinquent home owner without
even hearing from her personally—it flies in the face of what
I would say is common sense,” said Higgins. “As the resident
and representative to this area, I’m in the best position
to judge whether or not this property should go back to the
homeowner. And I didn’t think it was appropriate in this case.”
loose ends this week-