Attorneys for Keith Alan Raniere have made an urgent plea to US District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn to get Raniere’s medical records in an apparent effort to get him transferred out of the Metropolitan Detention Center and possibly released from prison.
Raniere, they say, has been deemed by the Bureau of Prisons to be at “high risk” for serious illness from the coronavirus because of his underlying medical conditions.
Meantime, the MDC has cut off all prison visits, even for attorneys, and calls are sporadic.
Here is the letter Raniere’s attorneys, Marc A. Agnifilo and Teny R. Geragos, sent to Judge Garaufis yesterday:
Dear Judge Garaufis;
We write with urgency to request the Court Order the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to release to counsel
(i) Keith Raniere’s medical records and
(ii) any information regarding his status as a “high-risk” inmate.
The undersigned counsel were notified this morning by the Federal Public Defenders Office that the BOP has identified Mr. Raniere as “high risk” for serious illness from COVID-19 under the Center for Disease Control’s definition of the term.
Mr. Raniere has previously signed a HIPAA release during his Probation interview with both undersigned counsel present.
Counsel has repeatedly attempted legal calls with Mr. Raniere this week, and counsel’s requests have gone unanswered. Since March 14, 2020, when legal visits were cancelled (sic) at the MDC, counsel was granted one 40-minute legal call with Mr. Raniere, which occurred on March 16, 2020.
Subsequently, counsel’s request for an in-person legal visit was denied. On March 23, 2019, counsel requested a legal call with Mr. Raniere. The request was “forwarded to the appropriate department,” but the department never contacted counsel. This morning, counsel requested another legal call with Mr. Raniere. The request, copying MDC Legal, has gone unanswered.
Critically, on March 17, 2020, Mr. Raniere notified counsel Teny Geragos that he received a medical examination that day from MDC staff related to several health issues. On March 23, 2020, Mr. Raniere notified Ms. Geragos that he had not received any follow-up from the medical examination.
Today, March 26, 2020, counsel was notified (by Federal Defenders, not the BOP) that Mr. Raniere has been deemed “high-risk.”
As the Court undoubtedly knows, inmates at both the state and federal level in New York have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
[At least one inmate in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Mr. Raniere is detained, has been diagnosed with COVID-19.]
Counsel has been unable to conduct a telephone call with our client. Therefore, we respectfully request that this Court Order the BOP to release to counsel Mr. Raniere’s medical records to counsel and any records that indicate the BOP’s designation of Raniere as a “high-risk” inmate.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Marc A. Agnifilo, Esq., Of Counsel
Teny R. Geragos, Esq.
Raniere, who has claimed to have been dying for more than 25 years, is now perhaps seriously at risk from doing just that.
According to the CDC on the subject of high risk for serious illness, “COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
“Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Other high-risk conditions could include:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
- People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
- People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk
“Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.”
It’s hard to know exactly which underlying conditions Raniere has, but his attorneys hope that they can get their hands on his medical records so they can urgently make a motion to have him moved out of the MDC to another facility, perhaps a medical facility or, indeed, even make a motion for his release from prison on the grounds that he might otherwise die.
Whether Raniere’s years of feigning life-threatening illnesses, from cancer to impending heart attacks, will inhibit his chances of getting transferred remain to be seen, but it does appear that he has persuaded prison doctors that he is indeed a very sick man.
If he gets the coronavirus, which seems likely if he remains where he is, he may die.
This should play out in the next few days if it is already not too late – for he may have already contracted the fell disease; his attorneys will be fighting to save the Vanguard’s life.
Meantime, no one is in communication with the Vanguard, and no reports on his condition are available.
While the likelihood of his being released – just as some elderly and infirm prisoners have been released from state prisons and local jails – is probably small, the risk of him dying in prison is not small – as NYC is the epicenter of the pandemic and medical attention is already strained and ventilators are in short supply.
This is no time to gloat over another’s misfortunes. It is no time to be in a prison and, hopefully, no one will wish Raniere the worst.
We will not conclude this article, as we have done many times in the past with “Viva Executive Success,” but rather our hope that Raniere does not contract coronavirus and survives to live long and serve out his entire prison sentence.