While You Were Out: June 19, 2019

What a busy Wednesday it has been.

A twisted saga about a suburban sex cult that has gripped the Capital Region – and now the world – for years has finally come to an end…

It took just four hours of deliberation for a jury to find NXIVM founder Keith Raniere guilty on all counts.

He now faces life in prison after being convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking. His sentencing is set for Sept. 25.

Richard Donoghue, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, thanked the judge and jury for “carefully considering evidence” in the Raniere trial.

Raniere was the sole defendant in the case to stand trial after several women previously pleaded guilty to a series of charges. Allison Mack, the former Smallville actor who allegedly was Raniere’s second-in-command, pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges. She did not testify at trial.

Clare Bronfman — an heir to the Seagram liquor fortune whose wealth helped fund NXIVM — Lauren Salzman, her mother Nancy, and Kathy Russell, also pleaded guilty for their involvement.

Meanwhile, things are wrapping up down at the state Capitol as the 2019 session winds down. It looks like the marijuana legalization bill is officially dead.

“It is clear now that M.R.T.A. is not going to pass this session,” the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Liz Krueger, of Manhattan, said in a statement this morning, using an acronym for the legalization bill she had sponsored. “We came very close to crossing the finish line, but we ran out of time.”

With just hours remaining before the session, state lawmakers turned their attention instead to a backup plan to decriminalize, but not legalize, marijuana, which was introduced on Sunday. The governor said he would support this bill.

The state Legislature was poised to renew a law that was a centerpiece of the federal corruption case against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Farmers and upstate lawmakers are warning about the unintended consequences of new protections and benefits for farm workers that are expected to be enacted into law.

In other news…

The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged today, but signaled that it’s prepared to start cutting rates if needed to protect the U.S. economy from trade conflicts and other threats.

An independent U.N. human rights expert investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is recommending an investigation into the possible role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, citing “credible evidence.”

ICYMI in Silvia’s earlier post, Slick Rick’s performance tonight’s Alive at Five concert will be held under the Interstate 787 bridge because predicted storms that could disrupt the show at the original location, the Corning Preserve amphitheater stage.

After an amended plan for the massive development at the former Hoffman’s Playland on Route 9 sailed through the Town Board meeting last month, it stalled in the Planning Board last week.

The Saratoga Springs Police department responded earlier today to an incident near Geyser Road elementary School. A man was taken into custody, but all students and staff were reported safe.

Capitaland Taxi has ended its operation at Albany International Airport, the latest sign of the collapse of the local livery business amid competition from ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

The Schenectady Police Department has responded to a recent report by the New York Civil Liberties Union faulting the department for a perceived lack of transparency across several metrics, including details governing their “use of force” policy.

A power outage closed SUNY Schenectady County Community College today.

Chick cam! (Baby chickens, people; get your mind out of the gutter).

Photo credit: Fred Coffey.



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