Keith Alan Raniere has COVID 19, according to his followers, some of whom have published articles on these pages.
Raniere’s condition appears to be good, with mild to moderate symptoms including some slight difficulty in speaking. He does not presently appear to be in need of hospitalization.
Raniere does not know where he contracted the disease, but believes it most likely occurred during his recent transit from the Oklahoma City Federal Detention Center to his assigned prison, the US Penitentiary Tucson.
He was transferred to Tucson on or about January 22.
According to his attorneys, he is in isolation, and is expected to remain there for another 10 – 17 days, after which it is expected he will be admitted into general population.
As of earlier today, Raniere has not been able to communicate with his appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean.
He was removed from the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center within hours of her request to have Raniere remain there until his appeal and restitution hearings were completed. Bonjean asked the court if, since Raniere would have an important role in those proceedings, he could remain at MDC until the appeal is filed and his victim restitution hearings were completed.
Raniere was transferred first to the USP in Lewisburg, where he was quarantined for about 10 days. He was then transferred to the Oklahoma City FDC where he remained for a few days and finally to Tucson.
Restitution Hearings May Take Place in March
On January 27, the prosecution filed their victim restitution request with the court on behalf of the purported victims of Raniere. The request was filed under seal. The total number of persons who filed written victim impact statements with the court numbers around 100 but it is not known if the prosecution is recommending that all of these be treated as victims qualifying for restitution.
On January 29, Raniere’s trial lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, responded to Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ request to give a date to the court as to when Raniere’s counsel would be able to file a response to the government’s restitution recommendations. Raniere has the right to dispute the prosecution’s recommendations of persons claiming to be his victims.
At that time, his lawyers, who had not spoken with Raniere and only knew he was in isolation, were apparently unaware of his contracting COVID-19.
Agnifilo told the court that he needed until at least the end of February to respond to the prosecution. The judge has approved the request.
Whether Raniere’s contracting COVID-19 will delay the defense response is not known. If he becomes more seriously ill, it may delay the response time for the defense. If the current timeline is maintained, it would be likely that the restitution hearing[s] will be conducted in March.
The hearings will likely be conducted by video conferencing and Raniere has the legal right to attend.
Sex Offenders Will Be His Companions
If Raniere is not in need of hospitalization, or further medical attention, at the end of his current isolation period, he is expected to enter the general population at USP Tucson. If so, he will be assigned a unit, with common areas that he will share with fellow inmates who will mostly be convicted sex offenders.
According to Ralph Miller, a retired Bureau of Prisons employee who specialized in sex offender designations in the Designation and Sentence Computation Center, “70-80 percent of inmates are sex offenders” at USP Tucson.
According to the US Bureau of Prisons, overall, 11.1 percent of all federal prisoners are sex offenders.
UPS Tucson, a high-security facility and a Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) institution was believed to have been chosen for Raniere since it would provide a measure of comparative safety for him because of his sex offense convictions.
The stated goal of the prison is to place many sexual offenders in one place rather than scatter them in various high security prisons where they will be targets by the general class of prisoners.
Many sex offenders in other institutions have to remain in protective custody [solitary] in order to avoid abuse and violence from other prisoners.
Because of Raniere’s sentence of 120 years, it is unknown if sex offender treatment programs will be available to him. Generally, treatment programs are made available to prisoners who have a chance at being released into society. Because the programs are voluntary, it is unlikely that Raniere would opt to take any since he maintains he is innocent of all charges, including his sex offense charges of sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, and the predicate acts of his racketeering charges, possession of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor.
If and when Raniere recovers from COVID, like all inmates at Tucson, he will be required to work. According to the USP Tucson Inmate Orientation Handbook, inmates are generally assigned to work in the kitchen as their first job assignment for a period of 90 days.
Viva Executive Success!
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