Albany Times-Union gives NXIVM the dead-tree treatment

Metroland, New York/March 7, 2010

Through the magic of web analytics, I can see that a bunch of people are out there looking for the Times Union's article about the private investigator who has been allegedly harassing people affiliated with former NXIVM member Barbara Bouchey.

Well, I braved the out-of-doors this morning and plunked down my $2.50 for a dead-tree copy of the story.

One thing, first, I am glad to see Dennis Yusko is back on the NXIVM beat. If you remember, I had a problem last year with the paper's initial reporting on NXIVM's relationship to the Dalai Lama's visit--as in, they didn't mention it. And I had a problem with what appeared to be censure by Yusko's bosses at the TU when he was pulled from the NXIVM beat a few years earlier.

Let's see. I learned from the story that it was William Sabino, the lawyer who is representing the Bronfman sisters in their claim against Joe O'Hara's bankruptcy, who had hired private investigator Steven Rambam (Rombom). Rambam had previously only identified himself as working for a California-based lawyer. And, the TU printed the first public statement made on behalf of Bouchey, through her attorney Nathan Goldberg: "Ms. Bouchey cannot help but question the timing of this lawsuit given the fact that prior to its being filed she gave deposition testimony in two cases which may be viewed as unfavorable to the Bronfmans. Ms. Bouchey intends to vigorously fight this lawsuit and is looking forward to a resolution in her favor."

Goldberg, by the way, is a partner with the law firm Allred, Maroko and Goldberg. Recognize the name Gloria Allred? She is representing one of Tiger Woods' alleged mistresses.

And NXIVM's profile continues to climb.

The TU does a pretty good job collecting some data about Rambam, but if it's killing you to find out the dirt about him, I suggest that you Google the name Rombom or Rambam. You can also read about his arrest and the subsequent dismissal here.

If you aren't familiar with the whole story of Bouchey and the Bronfmans, just jump back in time and read my full post from a couple weeks ago when I broke this story.

Otherwise, after the jump, I have cut and paste the same stuff that the TU is basically reporting [as follows:]

Meanwhile, Bouchey's name has turned up in another, wholly unrelated lawsuit involving Raniere's premiere benefactors, the Bronfman sisters.

In that case, which is playing itself out in United States Bankruptcy Court, Sara and Clare have filed an adversary proceeding against a former NXIVM employee, Joseph O'Hara. The sisters are claiming that O'Hara, who is seeking bankruptcy protection, violated the terms of a $2 million loan (by not paying it back) that they had floated him while he was still employed by NXIVM.

Bouchey makes her appearance in that case in a "motion for a protective order" filed by O'Hara's lawyer. What this motion is claiming is that the Bronfmans' attorney has engaged in an "extraordinary level" of abusive discovery in subpoenaing four people who have nothing to do with the O'Hara case. These four people, the motion claims, do not know O'Hara or have any insight into the proceedings surrounding his bankruptcy claim or his loan from the Bronfmans. They do, however, know Bouchey.

According to the motion, these four individuals-Angela Ucci, Melanie Button, Robert Petro and Kathleen Ethier-were targeted and harassed by a private detective, Steven Rambam, who claimed to be investigating a variety of allegations made against Bouchey. In their affidavits, Button, Ucci, and Petro describe multiple "intimidating" encounters with Rambam.

According to sources, this is the same Steven Rambam who is the CEO of security services firm Pallorium, which claims to do business in the United States, Canada, Israel and Hong Kong. You can check out his Web site here: According to articles available on that site, Rambam is an internationally known private investigator who has been involved in many high-profile cases, such as the trial of convicted Nazi war criminal, Julius Viel. He is also the muse for a series of Kinky Friedman novels.

According to O'Hara's motion, these four associates of Bouchey's had been warned that Rambam was investigating her and might try to interrogate them as well. So when Rambam came to the door of Robert Petro, a 70-year-old minister, Petro wasn't too surprised. In fact, Petro recognized him.

The summary of Robert Petro's affidavit: Rambam came to his door and showed him identification. Rambam was accompanied by a woman. He told Petro that he was not with NXIVM or Raniere, but rather that he worked for an attorney in California who he wouldn't identify. "He came off incredibly like an official kind of investigator," the affidavit reads. "He said I know everything about you . . . everything . . . with a certain look on his face . . . and I said . . . well that is good . . . he felt very intimidating to me when he said that . . . and I felt from the onset that things were inaccurate, intimidating, and he was fishing and had nothing substantial." Rambam leveled vague allegations against Petro and Bouchey, claiming that she had misappropriated $40 million and had breached the Bronfmans' confidentiality. At one point, Rambam threatened that he would have Petro arrested and drawn into a lawsuit if he didn't tell him what he wanted to know.

The alleged second time Rambam came to Petro's door, he tried to get Petro to sign a document. Petro said that he refused.

Melanie Button, who was Bouchey's assistant for 14 years, claimed in her affidavit that Rambam approached her at 9:10 in the evening as she was pulling into her parking lot. She was frightened by the man she recognized as a private investigator.

She claimed that Rambam attempted to ask her questions about files that Bouchey had "transferred." She said that she didn't know what he was talking about and that she was "pissed" by his intrusion, and abruptly broke off the encounter and escaped into her house. "I then watched from my window until they pulled out of my driveway . . . I was upset and I thought to myself . . . who does he think he is? Parking in a lot late at night trying to find out information about my boss . . . He came across being very authoritative and felt threatening."

Button claimed that Rambam was seen in the lot a number of times throughout the next couple weeks. According to O'Hara's motion, Rambam threatened Button that he would "see her in court."

According to O'Hara's motion, Kathleen Ethier claimed that Rambam "has been taking pictures of her house and car and hiding behind cars outside her home."

In her affidavit, Angela Ucci claimed that she had had a number of encounters with Rambam. The first was at her salon where she works as a stylist. It was at 8 in the evening, and she refused to speak with him. The second time he came to her work, the doors were locked and she hid from him. Ucci also claimed that she was contacted by an associate who warned her that she might go to jail if she didn't cooperate.

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