This is the third and final post in a series on the exchanges between defense attorney, Marc Agnifilo and Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis at Keith Raniere’s sentencing on October 27.
In Part 1: Raniere’s Lawyer Agnifilo and Judge Garaufis Mix It up Over Raniere, we watched Agnifilo argue that Raniere had good intentions when he was with women who now claim he abused them. We saw the judge rebut the argument saying that Raniere’s intent with Camila when she was 15 and he 45 was not well-intentioned.
In Part 2: Agnifilo and Judge Garaufis Mix It up; Debate Raniere’s Good Intentions, the judge brings up Keith and Clare Bronfman’s litigious nature and argues that this was not well-intended either. Aginfilo does his best to rebut it.
Now we come to Part 3.
One of the things that should be noted here is that Agnifilo is arguing for a 20-year sentence and he knows it isn’t going to happen. He had few weapons to work with. The judge already made up his mind.
The biggest thing Agnifilo could have done is to say Raniere had remorse. That the system convicted him fair and square and he now realizes the error of his ways, is ashamed, will never do it again. And then beg for mercy.
Raniere could have even cried to secure leniency.
Perhaps others would have caved by now, but Raniere, facing life in prison, possibly years in solitary, was not going to offer this to his captors. Agnifilo could not say his client was sorry for crimes he claims he did not commit. His client refused to admit he did anything illegal. And, therefore, he has no remorse for any of the crimes of conviction.
What he had left was to try to show Raniere’s intentions were good and that some of the victims are lying. And he even added a new twist: that Keith has some internal deficiency – and is unable to leave a woman or let a woman go because he loves them.
One cannot get wroth with Agnifilo. I think he does believe some of the victims lied and he does have an obligation to his client, not to the judge, or the prosecution, or the victims. As we shall see, the judge is not too sympathetic, even on the psychological issues.
AGNIFILO: What I think is the most important for sentencing, Judge, which is why I started with it, is a lot of people have very strong feelings, and they come here and they’re hurt.
This case has so much heartbreak, in my opinion, heartbreak, because so many people — I mean, I mentioned Mark Vicente. I’ll mention him again. He’s hurt. On that video statement [Vicente made his victim impact statement via prerecorded video], he’s hurt. He doesn’t know what to do. He says as much. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life now.” That’s sad, Judge, and it’s sad that they feel that way.
But I think it’s important that the first step in betrayal, the first step in betrayal is that there was this closeness.
There was this love, and I thought the person who put it the most eloquently was Adriana [the mother of Camila, Daniela, Mariana and Adrian, and grandmother to Keith’s youngest son, one of the victims who spoke in person in court earlier that day] in something she said this morning. She said — she started by talking to Keith, and she said, “There’s a love that was all around you, and you never touched.” Those were her words, Judge.
And she got it perfectly. And what she’s saying is, “We loved you. We loved you. We trusted you. We believed in you, and you betrayed us. So why did you betray us? Why did you betray us? What happened?”
And the problem is – as Your Honor started to point out is – and this is something that I think that Barbara Bouchey said and Toni Natalie said and other people have said it, he was in love with some of these women. He was in love with them. I think Toni Natalie said, ‘He doesn’t know how to let go’. Those are her words. I’m not her. You don’t know how to let go. He’s not trying to hurt someone — he’s not, Judge. He’s not trying to hurt someone.
And, Judge, I can see that you disagree with me. I know —
THE COURT: [referring to Gaylen, his 14 year old] All I am saying to you is that love does not result in any sense of responsibility for the offspring or an offspring that he has, that he has no responsibility. I am not here to question feelings. I am here to question, and the jury was there to decide, whether he has broken the law.
So I think we can talk about how Vicente feels and how Adriana feels and so forth, and we should put that aside for the sake of sentencing. What we need for this sentencing is to address what he did to other human beings with the skills that he obviously had. All right?
You don’t have to be the smartest man in the world to manipulate and to harm other people. And that is really what we are talking about here. What did he do? What did he do to hurt people and violate the law in the process? That is really what we are here for.
I do not want to know about his psychiatric history, particularly. He has not provided us with anything on it. You have not asked to — have not provided us with a workup about his problems, whatever they may be. And so I am not going to consider those kinds of issues because they are not in front of me.
What is in front of me is all these counts of — where the jury found him guilty of violating the law. And so, you know, let’s go back to what I have to consider. All right?
I’m supposed to consider his history and characteristics, the need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offenses, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offenses, and the need to sentence the sentence to afford adequate deterrence, and the need to protect the public, which is very important here the need to protect the public, among other things. That’s really where I am.
And I can differentiate, and do differentiate, between how people are hurt emotionally by the way they are treated, and how they are hurt by wrongdoing. We’re here about wrongdoing, not so much about how they feel ten years later about how they were treated. Although, it’s pretty clear that he took advantage of people sexually and that some of it, some of what he did was illegal because the jury said so that was their decision.
AGNIFILO: I’m not going to quarrel with the jury verdict, and I don’t. The jury has spoken. And your Honor is absolutely correct, your Honor’s job, what we’re all here to do is give a sentence based on the jury’s verdict. And my point in talking about intent and the circumstances of the offense certainly goes to a 3553 factor [a federal statute on how judges should sentence] because it’s the nature and circumstances of the offense. And so that’s why I’m discussing that.
THE COURT: You haven’t answered my question about Camila. Let’s cut to the chase here. You don’t start having an affair with a 15-year-old girl when you’re a 45-year-old man, plus total control, financial control, control over her visa, control over her father who is still writing letters in support of the defendant today, I have one in my file here. When is that appropriate? I’m just curious.
AGNIFILO: As your Honor knows, he wasn’t charged with or convicted of having sex with Camila. He was charged and convicted of the [nude] photographs [of Camila when she was 15.] And if your Honor remembers my trial defense, I didn’t really dispute the photographs all that much.
[Here Agnifilo seems to admit that Raniere did photograph Camila when she was 15, even though Raniere denies it.]
The way I disputed them [the child porn pics] is they were never shown to anybody [Keith never shared them and possibly never even looked at them] and the jury shouldn’t consider them as either child pornography or as a racketeering predicate because they were photographs that were taken and then for the rest of time they just stayed on a device, they never got sent anywhere, never got shown anywhere.
So, that’s how I dealt with the photographs at the trial. I didn’t say anything one way or another about them. I didn’t say at the trial anything one way or another about Camila at 15 years old.
THE COURT: You were talking about intent, I’m just wondering how that works into your theory of intent here.
AGNIFILO: [again seeming to reveal he considers Keith guilty of abusing Camila, which he knows the judge believes] I absolutely admit that Camila is in a different category than other people in the case. There is no question, there is no question. And there is no doubt, and I never said anything to the contrary, and I don’t say that now.
THE COURT: Go on.
AGNIFILO: What I think your Honor can glean from all this, and I don’t know if it cuts for or against them [him?] but I’ll say it because it’s the truth. He’s in a 13-year relationship with her, 12-year relationship with her. I don’t if know that makes it better or worse, but those are the facts.
[Agnifilo admits that Keith, who is 30 years older than Camila was in a romantic or sexual relationship with her. He is arguing that this is not the same kind of sexual exploitation because he considered Camila one of his wives.]
And my point, and it’s not a point that I think a psychological report, I thought that some of the people who spoke this morning spoke absolutely eloquently about it, he doesn’t know how to leave people.
THE COURT: He doesn’t know what?
AGNIFILO: Leave, leave women. Toni Natalie said, he doesn’t know how to let go.
THE COURT: [coming down hard on Agnifilo] It’s hard to leave, get people to leave, if you’re keeping all this material, this collateral. If you arranged to collect, true and maybe not true, information and photographs about these people so that they feel their constraint to stay. He doesn’t know how to leave? He knows how to keep people from leaving, that’s his skill. That’s a skill.
So when you start talking about he doesn’t know how to leave people, even if they wanted to leave, they couldn’t leave, according to what we were told here today and during the trial.
AGNIFILO: That is certainly a big part of what people have said today. [Agniflo did not mean literally today – as in the sentencing hearing. He meant that the victims have in recent years changed their minds and now say it was hard to leave, but at the time they were with him they wanted to be with Raniere.]
THE COURT: It’s what they said during the trial.
AGNIFILO: And during the trial both, no question.
THE COURT: The jury credited that.
AGNIFILO: Judge, I’m agreeing, I don’t disagree with you.
THE COURT: The fact that he doesn’t feel – he doesn’t know how to leave people – I don’t understand where that fits in this whole, the whole theory of his culpability.
AGNIFILO: The theory of the culpability is he’s not trying to hurt them at the time. He’s not. That’s the theory.
THE COURT: At this time. What about at that time?
AGNIFILO: No, at that time. He wasn’t trying to hurt any of the people who spoke here this morning.
THE COURT: Why — it’s not trying to hurt someone by controlling their ability to function and have the right to come and to go and to walk out and to stay because you’ve got this control over them with all this data about them?
AGNIFILO: Judge —
THE COURT: That’s not a consideration? That was then.
AGNIFILO: Judge, it’s a consideration but the trial evidence was very clear, when someone wanted to leave, they left. We got that out of Lauren Salzman’s testimony. We put in text messages of her and another person. The person wanted to leave. And they ended up saying, ‘I love you. I’ll miss you too.’
THE COURT [the judge has heard enough. He’s not changing his mind]: All right. I’m going to let the Government have something to say. Finish up.
AGNIFILO: Two things I want to say. Kristin [Keeffe] mentioned that she had spoken to me about possibly getting some child support, let me give the Court some background.
THE COURT: How old is this child?
THE COURT: Never had child support I take it?
AGNIFILO: Well, Kristin left. [Kristin left with their son in February 2014. She came to Florida where I put her up for more than a year, rent free]. And for a while, I think Mr. Raniere was trying to have their rent paid while living until Florida. [He was not trying to have her rent paid. She did not have any rent. She was hiding from him and he hired private investigators to find her. When they found her, he was not trying to pay her rent. And she fled from him again.]
THE COURT: I see. All right. Go ahead.
AGNIFILO: So in the spring  I started getting text messages from someone not identifying themselves. This person is on again/off again, I do want to talk to you, I’m not going to speak to you. She ends up speaking to me. It ends up being Kristin. Kristin and I talked on the phone a number of times.
She basically says that she feels that she deserves child support. So I say, “I think you probably deserve child support too.” So I talk to Raniere about it. I’m not going to get into the details of that discussion. But at some point, I tell Kristin “If we’re going to talk about trial support you have to get a lawyer, I’m not going to talk about child support with you. If this is some sort of a negotiation, the only way it can work is if the Court orders some sort of money judgment. Then I don’t know what the laws are regarding priority, I really have no idea. But if you want to try to be on record as being entitled to child support, have your lawyer contact the prosecutors and work it out.” And basically, that was the end of the discussion. I did discuss it with her, that’s kind of where we left it.
I point out that Mr. Raniere has two children, one with Marianna, [Kemar, age 3] that was referred to this morning, and one with Kristin. I don’t know what the future holds in terms of child support or available funds. One of the things I told Kristin’s lawyer is, if you remember from the trial, Judge, there is the Pam Cafritz estate. [She left Raniere $8 million] I have no idea what is going on with that, there are lawyers handling that, who frankly I’ve never spoken to. I said [to Kristin], “call them, they are in Albany or nearby.”
THE COURT: She has a lawyer in Albany, right? —
AGNIFILO: Kristin does.
THE COURT: Yes. I’m sure the lawyer in Albany in —
AGNIFILO: Will figure it out. So the crux of what I want to sum up on —
THE COURT: You carefully glossed over, because he’s your client and you’re not going to tell me about what your client said to you, [i.e. was Raniere willing to pay any child support] which is fine, but the fact is, the child is 14 years old and there has been no child support, apparently, and why should this even be an issue if this is his child. I mean, I’m just –
AGNIFILO: I agree with you.
THE COURT: [elegant putdown ahead] I’m just a local guy here in Brooklyn. But you’ve got a 14-year-old child who’s never been supported by his father who has been busy working the commodities markets for tens of millions of dollars and can’t find it in his heart to send a few bucks to his child. Why should anyone look upon that person as someone who is worthy of respect?
[I think Garaufis told us more about himself in this statement than anything that he could have said. He’s a Brooklyn guy and in Brooklyn, it’s about respect. He dismisses Keith as essentially riff-raff or scum, because what kind of a man does not support his own son?]
AGNIFILO: [blaming Kristin] Because I think Kristin left. Kristin was hiding, and Kristin and Gaelyn were hiding from him. That’s the answer. I’m not sure it makes it better or worse.
[I think it makes it worse.]
THE COURT: She spoke as to why she was hiding.
AGNIFILO: That’s the reason [he did not pay child support]. So that’s the —
THE COURT: No. The reason she was hiding was some other reason. She wasn’t hiding because she felt she would be safe if he knew about where she was. Let’s move on to the sentencing because I’m having trouble dealing with your logic. Go ahead.
AGNIFILO: I think I’m trying to make a couple of points clear. One, he didn’t intend to hurt anybody. I know your Honor disagrees with me. And your Honor —
THE COURT: The jury decided he did.
AGNIFILO: Judge, I know.
THE COURT: Then you’ve made your point. Next.
AGNIFILO: [making his best points now at the end] Obviously he’s never been in trouble with the law before. He’s a 60-year-old man. And I’m asking the Court for a 20-year sentence. Ordinarily, that would seem like an astronomical sentence for a 60-year-old man with a first arrest.
And there is one other point that I want to make, and I think it’s an important one. At no time, nothing in the evidence, and this is an exhaustively investigated case where a tremendous amount of people come forward, no evidence of a single instance where someone said to Keith Raniere, ‘I don’t want to do this; I don’t want you to hold my hand; I don’t want you kissing me;’ and he did it anyway. None. That’s the man we’re going to sentence.
First arrest, 60-year-old man. I think a 20-year sentence is more than a sufficiently long sentence for this particular 60-year-old man.
One thing I want to end with, it’s important in terms of [prison] placement. The Government in its sentencing memorandum took something out of context, I think it’s very important, that they took out of context. Because what they said Mr. Raniere said was that, ‘The Judge should know he’s being watched.’ [Keith was recorded in prison speaking on the phone to one of his supporters and said the judge should know he’s being watched]
THE COURT: What is that?
AGNIFILO: ‘The Judge should know he’s being watched.’ In their sentencing memorandum, they have him on a recorded phone call to someone saying, ‘The Judge should know he’s being watched.’ But what his whole statement was, ‘The Judge should know he’s being watched by someone wise. Have you been speaking with Alan Dershowitz?’ It’s just a very important distinction because without really understanding this he could be designated to someplace where he shouldn’t be.
[Keith wants famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz to help him in his case, to monitor the prosecution and review the judge’s conduct. He does not want Keith placed in a dangerous prison based on the statement about the judge taken out of context. He was not spying on the judge – as he has done with other federal judges in the past when he was free and using Bronfman money.]
I know that — one thing I also want to address, Judge, because it’s come up I don’t want to gloss over it. I know that your Honor got a very long letter from a number of people, [the Nxivm-5] I think on Friday. And the letter is discussing computer tampering. And they consulted with four experts, one of whom is a PhD in computers. And there has been a conclusion there is computer tampering [with Cami’s photos].
Just to be clear, so the record actually says this, I have been asked many, many times to file that motion. I was asked by my client, I was asked by others. I studied this stuff. I think I understand it. And in my estimation, being the lawyer on the case, I did not think that it rose to the level of making a prosecutorial misconduct motion in the form of a Rule 33 [request to the judge for a new trial].
What I will tell your Honor is, I don’t know what the future is going to hold, I’m still looking into it. I don’t know if it’s [the tampering evidence] going to turn the corner and become something different than what it is. But I decided not to file the motion. My client wanted me to file the motion. And I made a decision not to file the motion. And in making that decision I did a number of things. I consulted the Rules of Professional Responsibility, for one. I looked at my own sense of ethics and the fact that I would be in front of your Honor soon asking for a 20-year sentence. And I thought that was the right thing to do, and I still think it’s the right thing to do.
[Agnifilo felt that making a motion for a new trial on the evidence of tampering with Cami’s photos by the government, was not in Raiere’s best interest just days before he was to be sentenced. His client disagreed and got his supporters to submit a letter to the judge outlining their evidence of tampering.]
One of the reasons I didn’t file the motion is because if more evidence of this comes to light, in the future I didn’t want to basically take my one Rule 33 shot now. [Agnifilo is suggesting that there might be more evidence of the tampering with Camila’s photos in the future.] I made the decision not to file the motion. That’s why it came the way it did because I wouldn’t file it.
So, your Honor, in closing, I think a 20-year sentence is more than enough. It shows tremendous respect for the law. It is a very severe sentence for a 60-year-old man, for any person but for a 60-year-old man, that’s my request Judge.
THE COURT: Thank you.
[We know how this ended. He got a 20-year sentence plus one hundred years.]