Back on April 29th – when U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis granted Keith Raniere’s latest request to postpone his sentencing – the judge made it very clear that he had run out of patience with all the delays that had taken place since Raniere was found guilty on all counts back on June 19, 2019.
And so, when he granted that request, the judge set June 23, 2020 as the “date certain” for Raniere’s sentencing hearing.
Here’s the Order that the Judge issued on April 29th:
ORDER re: Keith Raniere’s  Application to Adjourn Sentencing Deadlines. The Application is GRANTED. The court adopts Mr. Raniere’s proposed briefing schedule. A Fatico hearing, if necessary, will be held on June 15, 2020 at 10:00 am in Courtroom 4D South or by live video conference, as the circumstances require. Mr. Raniere’s sentencing hearing will be held on June 23, 2020 at 10:00 am in Courtroom 4D South or by live video conference, as the circumstances require. The parties are DIRECTED to provide the court with the names of individuals who may wish to be heard at Mr. Raniere’s sentencing hearing by no later than 10:00 am on June 19, 2020. No further adjournments will be granted. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 4/29/2020.
But Sometimes, “No” Doesn’t Mean No
Despite the wording of the April 29th Order, Raniere has managed, once again, to have his sentencing date postponed.
And this time, he managed to get it put off indefinitely.
In a new Order that was issued on May 13th in response to a filing from Raniere’s attorneys on that same day, Judge Garaufis has postponed the sentencing to some indeterminate future date.
Here’s the new Order:
ORDER re: Defendant Keith Raniere’s  Consent Motion to Adjourn Sentencing. The Motion is GRANTED. Defendant’s sentencing hearing and Fatico hearing, if necessary, are ADJOURNED until such time as Defendant can be produced for proceedings in open court. The June 1 deadline for Defendant’s sentencing memorandum and the June 8 deadline for the Government’s sentencing memorandum are likewise ADJOURNED sine die. All other deadlines set by the court remain in effect. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 5/13/2020.
In this context, the Latin term “sine die” means that the proceedings in question have been postponed with no appointed date for resumption.
And so it is that Keith Alan Raniere – AKA Federal Prisoner #57005-177 – will likely spend at least several more months at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, NY – which has served as his home-away-from-home since March 2018.
The reason why Judge Garaufis didn’t set a new sentencing date has to do with some of the language set forth in the CARES Act – and the follow-up Administrative Order that was issued by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the Chief Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Per the CARES Act – which was the federal statute that was enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic – sentencing via videoconferencing is allowed only if (1) the defendant can consult with counsel; (2) after consultation, the defendant consents to a video sentencing; and (3) there are “specific reasons” that the sentencing cannot be delayed without “serious harm to the interests of justice.”
Raniere’s attorneys further argued that Chief Judge Mauskopf’s Administrative Order precluded the use of videoconferencing for Fatico hearings.
But, as they pointed out, regardless of whether that’s an accurate interpretation of that Administrative Order, “Raniere does not consent to such a hearing being conducted remotely”.
Why Does Raniere Want to Further Delay His Sentencing?
It’s hard to fathom exactly why Raniere wants to postpone the inevitable.
Maybe he’s hoping that Judge Garaufis will be felled by COVID-19 – and he’ll end up getting a new trial.
Or maybe he’s working on an elaborate escape plan that will result in him being whisked away to Wakaya Island in Fiji.
Or maybe he’s developed a close, personal relationship with one of his fellow inmates at MDC – and doesn’t want to leave him just yet.
Or maybe he’s worried that once he’s placed in the general population of a regular prison, he’ll be at the mercy of the other prisoners there.
According to his attorneys, Raniere wants his sentencing delayed because he hasn’t been able to consult with his attorneys often enough in recent weeks (Federal prisons have basically been in lock-down” mode since April 1st).
As they argued in their motion to postpone the June 23rd sentencing hearing, “The amount and type of interaction and communication between him and his counsel that has been permitted over the past two months have been absolutely insufficient to enable him to be prepared for his sentence hearing and for other proceedings related to sentencing”.
Since April 1st, Raniere has not had any legal visits with his attorneys. And according to them, even though they “have consistently requested legal phone calls, these have been few and far between”.
Raniere himself complained that these legal phone calls do not constitute real attorney-client communications because they take place in close proximity to prison officials and can be overheard by them.
He also complained that he doesn’t get a full 30-minutes for his legal calls. That’s probably true because the guards at MDC often “start the clock” for such calls when they pick up the prisoner at his cell (The transfer process from the cell to the telephone room can take several minutes).
In any event, the bottom line is that Raniere is simply not going to consent to any sort of remote hearing for his sentencing – which means that he likely will not be sentenced until after the Eastern District of New York is back in full operation.
And when will that be, you ask?
No one really knows.
Quite probably not before Labor Day.
And, depending on how things go once Governor Cuomo re-opens New York City, maybe not for a long, long while.
Maybe Raniere is hoping he can stay at MDC long enough to get another “Christmas Bag” full of candy, cookies, and snacks.
What About Clare Bronfman?
Given that Judge Garaufis quickly granted Raniere’s request for an additional delay in his sentencing, it’s almost certain that Clare Bronfman could get one too.
While she doesn’t have the same constraints that Raniere has faced in meeting and talking with her attorneys, the court will still need her consent to proceed with any sort of remote sentencing.
So, will Clare be submitting a similar request sometime soon in order to postpone her sentencing that is currently scheduled for June 25th?
Or will she consent to being sentenced via videoconferencing?
On the one hand, she’s not getting any credit for the time she’s been under home confinement.
But, on the other hand, maybe she wants to spend one more summer in the City before she heads off to the federal prison for women in Danbury, CT.
A brilliant trial attorney who is quite familiar with the whole NXIVM story suggested two other possibilities for Clare: Maybe she’ll go ahead with the June 25th sentencing but ask to have her “report date” delayed for several months – and/or maybe she’ll ask that she be allowed to serve her entire sentence via home confinement à la Paul Manafort.
Wouldn’t that be a kick-in-the-ass if Clare never went to prison?