Blogger pleads guilty to computer hacking charge

Saratogian, New York/November 5, 2014

By Lauren Mineau

Albany -- Saratoga in Decline blogger John Tighe pleaded guilty to a computer hacking-related felony charge for unauthorized access to a computer system owned by NXIVM, a self-improvement organization based in Albany County.

Tighe, 57, of Milton, entered a guilty plea during his appearance in Albany County Court Wednesday morning.

He faces one year in Albany County Correctional Facility for hacking into the system using a woman’s username and password on Nov. 4, 2010.

Tighe said in court Wednesday he estimated he accessed the organization’s server between 50 and 60 times using the credentials.

He was previously free on his own recognizance from Albany City Court and Albany County Judge Pete Lynch allowed him to remain free, but under probation where he is prohibited from using the Internet or a cell phone and is restricted to his home in Milton until his sentencing on Jan. 7, 2015.

Computers and electronics were confiscated from Tighe by state police in October 2013 after a search warrant was executed to probe for material related to NXIVM, a group many define as a cult. Tighe served as a local watchdog over NXIVM and its founders, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman, who also run a unique training program for professionals, Executive Success Programs, among other enterprises.

State police conducted an 18-month investigation that eventually led them to Tighe.

Tighe also faces child pornography charges in U.S. District Court. He was later charged with possession of child pornography after police allegedly found him in possession of more than 400 video files of suspected child pornography involving kindergarten-aged children.

According to court documents, the files were located within folders labeled with the names of months and years on the computer equipment seized from Tighe.

As state police investigators were removing the computer evidence from his home, Tighe asked if he could “get in trouble” for anything on the computer aside from NXIVM. Troopers said that it was a possibility, to which Tighe told them his wife has no knowledge of what was on his computer, and that she was given her own, according to court papers.

The court documents describe the first child pornography file being found only five days after the computers were seized. A warrant was obtained Nov. 7, 2013 that authorized the search of the computers and digital storage devices for evidence relating to “depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit content,” but it wasn’t until Feb. 26, 2014, that Tighe was arrested.

Tighe ran an often incendiary blog, Saratoga in Decline, that followed and frequently criticized elected officials in Saratoga Springs on an almost daily basis. The blog is no longer in service because he is without access to a computer.

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