Keith Alan Raniere’s appeal for a new trial based on his argument that two of the prosecution’s witnesses perjured themselves concerning their intent to participate in a civil lawsuit against him has been denied by Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
Judge Garaufis presided over the six-week-long criminal trial of Raniere. A jury convicted Raniere in less than five hours on racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy, and two counts of sex trafficking.
The two prosecution witnesses Raniere alleged committed perjury are former DOS slave Nicole and former Raniere harem member Daniella, the woman he confined to a room for two years.
It should be noted that Raniere is free to appeal this decision and the judge’s decision may not be final.
To read the entire memorandum wherein Judge Garaufis quotes precedents and explains their application in supporting his decision to deny Raniere a new trial see here;
In Raniere’s appeal, he argued that Nicole and Daniella perjured themselves when they testified that they did not intend to bring a civil suit against him, then joined in a civil suit, along with some 80 former Nxivm plaintiffs. The lawsuit was filed seven months after Raniere’s criminal trial concluded.
Raniere also argued that the prosecutors for the US Dept of Justice knew or should have known that Nicole and Daniella were lying and that but for their perjury, he would have been acquitted.
Judge Garufis’ wrote in his memorandum denying Raniere a new trial:
Defendant [Raniere] has not demonstrated that any testimony given at trial was actually false…
Daniela and Nicole, both victims of the conduct for which Defendant was convicted, testified for the Government at trial. Present for their testimony was Neil Glazer, an attorney whom they had individually retained and who had accompanied them to at least some of their interviews with the Government prior to trial.
Mark Vicente, another Government witness, testified on direct examination that he had also retained Glazer to assist in ‘potential civil matters’ … On cross-examination, defense counsel did not ask Vicente about his retention of Glazer or whether he intended to file
a lawsuit against Defendant.
On cross-examination of Daniela and Nicole, defense counsel asked each whether they had retained Glazer and whether they planned to bring a civil suit against Defendant in the future. Daniela acknowledged that she had retained Glazer, at first to handle ‘the precarious situation with [her] little sister’ [Camila] and then ‘to interact with officials from the government’ but repeatedly denied that she, at that point, had any intent to bring a civil suit against Defendant or NXIVM…..
Defense counsel also asked Daniela how she came to hire Glazer, whether she had gotten his name from Vicente, and whether she had discussed the possibility of bringing a civil suit against Defendant with anyone else; however, the Government objected to these questions and the court sustained those objections. …
Nicole testified that she hired Glazer because she wanted to “protect [her]self,” disclaimed any intent at that time to bring a civil suit or to
participate in a class-action lawsuit, and twice testified that she had not discussed the prospect of doing so with anyone else…
In response to her first denial of having spoken to anyone else about the prospect of filing a civil suit, defense counsel asked Nicole whether she had told the FBI that Frank Parlato was pressuring her to do so… Nicole reiterated that she had no recollection of telling the FBI that Parlato had pressured her to join a civil suit…
Jay, a third victim who testified for the Government, testified on direct examination that she had also retained Glazer… Defense counsel did not probe further on this topic on cross-examination, which counsel now asserts was because ‘it was apparent that the court would not permit the defendant to … ask probing questions tending to unearth the clear collusion among the witnesses or their intention to bring a civil suit’…
On January 28, 2020, over seven months after the jury returned its verdict (and nearly eight months after Daniela testified), Glazer filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of more than 80 individuals, including Vicente, against, inter alia, Defendant and NXIVM …
The Civil Suit cannot carry the weight that Defendant asks it to bear. For Defendant to meet his threshold burden to demonstrate
that Daniela and/or Nicole committed perjury, he must introduce evidence that either or both of them gave ‘false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony.’… Assuming for present purposes that Daniela and Nicole are, in fact, among the Jane Doe plaintiffs in that [Glazer civil lawsuit] action (which appears to be the case), this hardly proves that either of them had determined to join that action when they testified at trial more than six months before it was filed.
In fact, the [Raniere] complaint, insofar as it is evidence, says nothing about their state of mind at the time they testified, which is the sine qua non of any charge of perjury.
Moreover, the court cannot discern any basis to believe that either of them had any reason to lie about whether they intended to sue Defendant. Both Daniela and Nicole sat for lengthy cross-examination during which, as the Government notes, they answered forthrightly questions that appeared to have been intended to elicit evidence of their respective biases against Defendant and admitted that they were angry with him without any equivocation…
Further, given the content of their testimony (which included, for example, Daniela testifying at length about how she had been confined to a room for roughly two years after admitting to Defendant that she had feelings for another man), it would have been utterly unremarkable had either Daniela or Nicole confessed an intent to sue Defendant (an intent which, the court notes again, another witness [Vicente] freely admitted).
As such, the fact that they affirmatively disclaimed a present intent to sue Defendant months before joining a suit against him is, on its face, persuasive evidence of little more than the fact that they changed their minds at some point between testifying at trial and filing the complaint in the Civil Action…
Defendant’s contention that the Government knew or should have known of the “perjury” is facially absurd. As previously noted, the key facts on which these accusations rest—namely that several witnesses had retained Glazer to represent them—are not “newly discovered”
evidence by any definition. To the contrary, Defendant was fully aware of these facts prior to and during the trial and cross-examined witnesses on these very topics…
Even assuming, however, that this evidence were cognizable on this posture, it would not support the conclusion that the Government played any role in suborning the “false” testimony. Defendant effectively asks this court to infer that, because the Government knew that the witnesses had retained Glazer, and Glazer ultimately represented some of them in the Civil Suit… the Government must have known about the Civil Suit, and Daniela and Nicole’s putative intent to participate in it, during the trial.
The infirmity of this argument is self-evident…
As such, even if Defendant had demonstrated that either Daniela or Nicole had perjured herself, he would be entitled to a new trial only if the court believed that but for the perjured testimony, Defendant would not have been convicted… The court is not so convinced. As an initial matter, “[t]he discovery of new evidence which merely discredits a government witness and does not directly contradict the government’s case ordinarily does not justify the grant of a new trial.” … That is especially true here where, as previously noted, it would
not have been remotely unusual for Daniela or Nicole to have admitted an intent to sue Defendant, and there is simply no reason to believe that the jury would not have credited their testimony had either or both of them admitted as much over the course of the lengthy cross-examination to which they were subject.
Moreover, it is apparent that Defendant himself did not consider the potential for civil litigation to be especially significant; despite the fact that Vicente admitted that he was considering a suit against Defendant, his counsel did not ask a single question on this topic during his lengthy cross-examination of Vicente.
And despite Defendant’s assertion in his motion that the jury would have acquitted him had they only known that Daniela, Nicole, and Jay all intended to sue him at some point in the future, he evidently did not feel it necessary to even ask Jay whether she intended to sue him when he had the opportunity to do so.
In any case, having observed both Daniela and Nicole’s testimony, the court sees no reason to disturb the jury’s determination that they were anything but credible witnesses who offered powerful evidence of Defendant’s guilt.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s Motion for a New Trial is DENIED
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
July 16, 2020
_/s/ Nicholas G. Garaufis_
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS
United States District Judge