[Editor’s Note: Frank Report correspondent Dianne Lipson attended yesterday’s Curcio hearing – and contributed to this report. As usual, our thanks to Dianne for providing accurate and timely infromation].
Brooklyn NY, October 31. [Halloween].
A Curcio hearing was held in federal court on the matter of whether defendant Keith Alan Raniere wants to, and should be permitted to, keep his present attorney, Teny Geragos – who applied to work for the Department of Justice in the same district – the Eastern District of NY [EDNY] – that successfully prosecuted Raniere.
To the chase: Raniere and the Judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, finally agreed on something.
The judge ruled:
ORDER: As discussed in today’s Curcio hearing and as laid out in Defendant Keith Raniere’s  Affirmation, Mr. Raniere wishes to waive any potential conflict arising from Ms. Geragos’s application to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The court finds that any potential conflict is waivable and that Mr. Raniere has knowingly and voluntarily waived such conflict. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 10/31/2019.
Earlier this month – at the first Curcio hearing on this matter, Judge Garaufis told Raniere to confer with his Curcio counsel [Avraham Moskowitz] about the potential conflict-of-interest regarding Geragos after it was reported she had applied for a job in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the EDNY.
Raniere did that – and then signed an affidavit/attestation on October 10th indicating he was fine with things the way they are.
“It is my desire to continue to be represented by my current attorneys, Marc Agnifilo and Teny Geragos and the firm of Brafman & Associates,” Raniere stated.
The prosecution was not satisfied. They wanted a second Curcio hearing so that the judge could ask Raniere specific questions about his willingness to go forward now that he knows Teny applied – and subsequently withdrew – her application to work at the DOJ EDNY.
This they did most likely not out of any concern for Raniere, but to make absolutely sure he could not use this at some point down the road as grounds for an appeal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Hajjar, a prosecutor in Raniere’s trial, initially informed Judge Garaufis of Geragos’ job application because it was a possible conflict for the defendant and had to be disclosed.
In Geragos’ original application with the U.S. Attorney’s office for the EDNY, she listed some of Raniere’s prosecutors as her references. Geragos is the daughter of celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos. She works at Brafman & Associates in Manhattan, the same firm that employs Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney.
“Ms. Geragos’s application to the office is no longer pending and it does not appear that Ms. Geragos is seeking employment with another United States Attorney’s office at this time,” Hajjar told the judge in a filing on October 23rd. “Under these circumstances, the likelihood that Ms. Geragos’s professional judgment on Raniere’s behalf would be affected by her personal interest in securing employment with this office or another U.S. Attorney’s Office is remote.”
That’s what yesterday was all about: A lot of a hullabaloo about nothing.
When Raniere first entered the courtroom, he seemed to be almost hopping – or walking very briskly – [some thought given his athletic ability he might have planned to judo flip the guards and then sprint out the door]. He was wearing a tan prison outfit.
It seemed that a short sleeve button down tan shirt he wore with his tan prison pants was a little oversized as it – untucked – went over a considerable portion of his posterior giving him a clown-like look – or better yet – that he was wearing an ill-fitted prison outfit as a Halloween costume for comedic effect.
Raniere had slightly longer hair than at his last hearing – which means the infestation of head lice – which had previously required his head to be shaven – has not returned.. His face was of normal color – not the deep red of previous hearings.
During the hearing, Raniere whispered something to his attorney who, in turn, reminded Judge Garaufis that Geragos is not seeking to be employed at the DOJ at this time.
The judge asked about the timeline: When did Geragos make her application to the Justice Department. He wanted to know whether it was before, during, or after the trial. It was August 12th, well over a month after the trial.
At one point, Garaufis reminded Raniere that his case is “not over”.
“At the end of the trial, it became my responsibility to impose a sentence,” Garaufis said to the alert looking Vanguard of Nxivm.
Garaufis asked Raniere several questions about his understanding of the potential conflict and willingness to continue being represented by Geragos.
He said he understood and wanted Geragos to remain on his team.
He answered most of the judge’s questions with a soft “Yes” or “I do.”
The judge pointed out that Geragos might still apply for the DOJ position. And so she might be trying to please the government with what she did on his case.
Raniere said he understood but still wanted to waive the conflict.
At one point, in the interest of transparency, AUSA Hajjar said that she had asked Geragos to speak to a group of Columbia Law School students and that Geragos had complied with her request.
Raniere’s lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo, who was in attendance, pointed out that no one ever asked him to speak anywhere in any fashion.
People in the gallery laughed.
The judge said “Well, this is not about you.”
Again, people laughed.
The judge mentioned that the pre-sentencing report on Raniere has not yet been received and is being worked on.
At the end of the hearing, Raniere got up sprightly. He looked in the direction of the gallery as he was leaving the courtroom.
Even though Toni Natalie was not there, she will probably claim he was looking for her, much like she claimed in her book – that he often ignored everyone else in the courtroom and sought to look only at her. That’s a total fabrication according to others who were at the hearings and at the trial.
Raniere faces the possibility of life in federal prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for January 17th.