Search darkens blogger's website

Troopers take computer from area home related to complaint by NXIVM

Albany Times-Union/October 24, 2013

By James M. Odato

Clifton Park -- State Police searched the homes of three New York residents on Wednesday, including that of a Saratoga Springs political blogger, and collected their computers. One of the searches by troopers was at the Saratoga County residence of John Tighe and is related to a matter involving NXIVM, Tighe and his lawyer said. NXIVM says it is a self-improvement organization. It is based in Colonie and has been the target of some of Tighe's critical postings.

Tighe's blog, Saratoga In Decline, indicated on Wednesday that it is closed until further notice, as the mayoral election season is in progress.

Terence L. Kindlon, Tighe's lawyer, said the search was executed based on an Oct. 17 warrant signed by Acting State Supreme Court Judge Kimberly O'Connor. She would not allow a reporter to review the search warrant she signed, saying, through her clerk, that it is not a public document.

Kindlon said Tighe's computer and external hard drives were taken by State Police. He said the reason for the investigation is vague but it involves an assertion of felonious computer access or trespass. Without his own computer, Tighe, who has taken to his blog almost daily to sharply criticize elected and public officers in Saratoga Springs, "is off the air," Kindlon said.

Kindlon said he expects Tighe to get another computer and to return to blogging on politics in Saratoga Springs. Stephen Coffey, who has represented one of NXIVM's top officers, could not be reached for comment about the searches and seizures.

State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations Investigator Rodger Kirsopp in Clifton Park said on Wednesday that the NXIVM investigation is continuing, and would not confirm or deny the search. However, the State Police Troop G press office said on Thursday that Albany County search warrants were issued for a probe that began in April 2012 involving potential larceny of computer related information. The release said the matter was triggered by a complaint from NXIVM/ESP. NXIVM is related to Executive Success Programs, which is also known as ESP. The search warrant was executed by the Computer Crimes Unit.

"Computers and computer related documents were seized from locations in Milton, Saratoga County, Schenectady, Schenectady County and Perinton, Monroe County. The subjects who reside at the three locations have had some dealings with NXIVM in the past and none are current employees," the news release said. No one has been charged or arrested.

State Police Lt. Michael Lair said Judge O'Connor sealed the warrants even though investigators did not request that. He would not identify who resided at the locations of the three searches.

Albany County District Attorney's Office sought a special prosecutor to work with State Police on the probe and one was assigned, said David Rossi, chief assistant Albany County district attorney. The district attorney sought an outside counsel for the work to avoid potential conflicts, he said.

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