Lawyers for Keith Alan Raniere have submitted to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis an 86 page sentencing memorandum on behalf of their client.
They seek to persuade the judge to sentence Raniere to the minimum sentence he is allowed by federal law to impose – 15 years. The 15 year minimum is required by Raniere’s conviction on sex trafficking charges.
The prosecution is asking the judge to sentence Raniere to life in prison.
Should Raniere, 60, get 15 years [a sentence that most observers see as unlikely] he would be qualified to be released in a little more than 10 years. He has already logged in almost 30 months of time served and could shave off a couple more years with good behavior.
Raniere’s lawyers argue that he is innocent.
Let us quote from the memorandum written by Raniere’s attorneys Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian II/
My comments are in [brackets and bold].
By Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian II
Keith Raniere continues to assert his complete innocence to these charges. He does, of course, recognize that a jury convicted him of very serious crimes, ironically crimes that he and others in NXIVM have been seeking to prevent others from committing for many years. The jury’s verdict, however, did not reflect the quality of the evidence, but rather was a product of a media campaign involving witnesses who were motivated to testify falsely, [Daniella and Nicole who, the defense claims lied in court about their plans to participate in a civil lawsuit against Raniere and others] a heavy-handed prosecution that threatened potential defense witnesses and, most respectfully, an unfair trial where, we believe, the Court was not provided with full, candid information from the prosecution.
Therefore, Mr. Raniere objects to this Court moving this matter on to sentencing because of these significant violations of his due process rights, as well as perjury by critical witnesses and threatening actions taken by the Government toward potential defense witnesses, [Raniere’s attorneys allege the prosecution threatened and intimidated potential defense witnesses, threatening to charge them, particularly Mexican Nxivm members who offered to come to the US and testify for Raniere] events that individually and in combination defeated his right to a fair trial.
For the reasons set forth on the record before and during the trial, including in the several mistrial motions and in the Rule 33 motion [seeking a new trial] filed since the verdict, [the Court denied the Rule 33 motion] Mr. Raniere respectfully maintains that his trial was fundamentally unfair and in violation of the rights assured to him and to all defendants by the U.S. Constitution, and that he should be granted a new trial now due to the accumulation of prejudicial errors and due process violations, including those coming to light since the verdict, which in totality mandate the setting aside of the verdict and the awarding of a new trial, at a minimum.
Mr. Raniere not only maintains his innocence, he stands by ESP, NXIVM, DOS and all of the projects, curriculum and teachings to which he and many others have devoted their lives.
He remains proud to have played a role in helping people achieve greater happiness and better lives. He remains proud to have been permitted to play a part in helping citizens and residents of Mexico strive to bring peace to a country beset by violent gangs, kidnappings and murders, a struggle that continues to the present and that will continue into the future. He also remains proud that he and others helped people with Tourette’s syndrome to be able to minimize or eliminate the symptoms of this difficult condition.
Simply put, he remains proud of his life’s work. He also remains determined to fight this case, which he views as a terrible injustice and, respectfully, an affront to what should be one of the great systems of Justice to ever exist.
Mr. Raniere recognizes that on the very day that judgment will be caste upon him, he may be better-served to be contrite, and that his best hope for a sentence that permits him to one day walk the earth as a free man is for him to say he is sorry for all that he has done. The truth is that he is mindful of all the people that have been hurt by this process, and he experiences deep pain at the plight of the many good, innocent people hurt by the events of the last 30 months. He maintains that he did not harm anyone intentionally, yet he has seen how a once wonderful, loving, close-knit community of people genuinely motivated to bring about positive change in the world has been destroyed by a handful of people who have lied to newspapers, media outlets, prosecutors and juries, and have caused others to lie as well.
To the extent that Mr. Raniere brought about a community of people that was vulnerable to such destruction, he is deeply sorry that he participated in this. This is not what he intended, but he is mindful of the people he has
let down. He is mindful of the people whose lives have been upended by the events depicted at the trial.
However, he is not sorry for the way in which he lived his life. He is not sorry for his conduct or his choices. Rather, he maintains that he has lived mindfully and carefully and that he has made deliberate choices, often with the input of others, and that even on the day of judgment, he stands by the life he has chosen to live….
In regard to his five co-defendants [Clare Webb Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack and Kathy Russell], Mr. Raniere’s position is that each of them believed in him, trusted him and followed him and that they are no more blameworthy than are the 18,000 others who took NXIVM courses over 22 years….
Mr. Raniere is not looking to be a martyr. In fact, he wants to be released from jail as soon as possible and believes he deserves to be released.
However, he recognizes that he was the leader of a community, and that the members of his community looked up to him and trusted in his motives and his good-will.
If he acted recklessly while attempting to push people to be better versions of themselves (a notion that always
concerned him but which he does not believe), no one else is as responsible as him. He understands that the Court may not want to hear his opinions on matters that are firmly within the sole discretion of the Court, but he also wants it said publicly that his co-defendants should not go to jail. If anyone is to be punished for his or her actions, that person should be Mr. Raniere alone.
The trial evidence shows that the NXIVM community was based primarily on trust and a belief that everything that was done, especially those things that were difficult, was for a higher purpose.
Raniere trusted that others in the community would see his motives as genuine and pure because over the course of 22 years, he endeavored to earn that trust. Others in the community trusted that when Raniere or another person asked them to perform challenging tasks, that this was being done to help them and not for some darker reason.
The evidence shows that a small group of people, [Mark Vicente, Bonnie Piesse, Sarah Edmondson, Anthony Ames] motivated by their own personal circumstances, successfully poisoned the trust that hundreds if not thousands of people had developed over two decades. They did this by lying to others and claiming they knew things they did not in fact know. They did this by enrolling bloggers [Frank Report] who threatened to publicize personal facts about people unless they joined the anti-NXIVM side. [I do not recall doing this.] They did this by lying to the New York Times, specifically that a woman [Sarah Edmondson] was held down and branded against her will (when in fact she absolutely knew about the branding weeks ahead of time and that she actively told others she wanted to be branded) and causing a media firestorm based on false information.
They did this by telling the mother [Catherine Oxenberg] of a young woman [India Oxenberg] that her daughter was in grave danger when the daughter was living her life in peaceful anonymity. They waged a campaign of hate and falsehood with the goal of burning down everything in its path.
They joined forces with a federal prosecutor [Moira Penza] who, rather than seeking out the truth, quickly took the side of the Anti-NXIVM group. It must be remembered that this “case” was initially referred to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York (the District in which all of the relevant conduct took place) and a highly experienced AUSA in that office as well as the FBI in that area concluded that no crimes had occurred. However, in Brooklyn, a District in which none of the challenged conduct took place, the anti-NXIVM group
found an ally.
Potential defense witnesses were threatened with prosecution if they dared to testify in a manner inconsistent with the Government’s theory. Ultimately, this combination led to the wholesale destruction of something that each of these people once loved: the very community they each helped nurture and create.
This complex situation of personal motives, individual regrets and life-choices has no place in a federal courtroom. Yet, the Government seeks a life sentence for Keith Raniere in a case that has no guns, no knives and no force. No one was shot, stabbed, punched, kicked, slapped or even yelled at.
Despite the sex offenses, there is no evidence that any woman ever told Keith Raniere that she did not want to kiss him, touch him, hold his hand or have sex with him. On the contrary, the women who testified stated that they expressed to Raniere only that their intimate contact was altogether welcome and consensual. For instance, neither Sylvie nor Nicole ever stated or even suggested to Raniere that they did not want to be intimate with him.
Every single person making the decision to get branded or not get branded, to join DOS or not to join DOS, to write book reports [Daniella] or not, to participate in Pam Cafritz’s memorial or not [Nicole], or to make any one of a thousand other decisions was a free-thinking adult. Not only were they adults, they were adults of considerable means, success and options. Many of them had already achieved some measure of success in their professional lives yet they viewed their lives as having insufficient meaning and content.
Many wanted to have closer relationships with their parents, children, friends and colleagues. Many wanted clearer conceptions of what their purpose might be, who they really were and how they should devote their time and energies to this one life they have been given. They were successful people who specifically wanted to be pushed, to be challenged, to be inspired to do things differently than they had done.
They joined NXIVM or DOS because they wanted to overcome fears and limitations and because they firmly believed that this was the best thing for them. The Government has no place in the realm of personal choices made by adults concerning these sorts of essential, private matters over how each person decides to live his or her life. Similarly, the Government should not transform regret over one’s choices into federal crimes, much less seek a life sentence for them.
Keith Raniere will appear in Court at his sentencing hearing not as a man seeking forgiveness from the Court or the Justice System, but as one who will to his last breath defend the community and the ideals he created against the destructive forces that have for the moment burned them to the ground. He will also stand against unfairness in the criminal justice process for all people. Finally, he intends to fight this case with all of his might, confident that he will one day be vindicated.
[Frank Report will be publishing additional arguments by Raniere’s attorneys where the delve into the specifics of why Raniere is innocent of various charges he was convicted of. Stay tuned.]