Keith Raniere’s new appellate attorneys, Joseph McBride, Steven Metcalf and Martin Tankleff, are trying to get the word out about their client’s upcoming appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Here are some of their comments from recent media interviews.
Law and Crime Network
Law and Crime Network, a fairly new live trial network similar to Court TV, published an interview with McBride, Metcalf and Tankleff.
Convicted NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere is planning to appeal his 120-year prison sentence based on alleged courtroom error and complaints that he didn’t receive a fair trial.
Defense attorney Steven Metcalf made the case for his client, who is currently recovering from COVID-19, during a Thursday appearance on the Law & Crime Network.
“You have a legitimate business that’s operating with hundreds of people who are benefiting from it and are actually gaining tremendous life experiences as a result of it–and employed—and all of a sudden that becomes deemed a federal RICO,” the attorney argued—referring to Mafia-focused, anti-racketeering legislation which makes charging criminal conspiracies relatively easy for federal prosecutors.
“That federal RICO, the charges that could result to sex-trafficking charges, 100 percent tainted the entire proceedings going forward, from the beginning to the end,” Metcalf argued. “It had chilling effects on the defense that could have been presented.
“The evidence presented at trial to produce and substantiate these charges was completely different than those victim impact statements and that’s what we are claiming was lacking at the trial level,” Metcalf added…
Raniere defense attorney Joseph McBride also leveled a series of more vague complaints about the trial and investigative process during an appearance on the Law & Crime Network.
“There are a lot of questions,” he said. “There are a lot of holes. We have a lot of questions about the FBI’s work in this case. People here were hurt on some level but the question is about criminality. The question is about proving each element of each crime beyond a reasonable doubt. We don’t think that the government did that in this case.”
Law &Crime Daily host Brian Buckmire noted that over 15 victims testified against Raniere and that five women in his inner circle pleaded guilty to exchanging sexual favors and to branding many of those women who were lower down the hierarchy in what Smallville‘s Allison Mack termed a “secret society.” [See editor’s note at the bottom of this story to discuss the factual mistakes in this paragraph]
The host also drew attention to post-trial allegations from at least one woman that Raniere used video footage to blackmail his alleged sex slaves and keep them in line.
“That’s not people’s feelings, I would argue, that’s just what came out, and I don’t see how that’s interpreted differently,” Buckmire said.
Metcalf, in a preview of the defense’s appeal, pointed out that many of those allegations were not used as part of the prosecution’s case during the trial itself.
“Those weren’t used as part of the government’s proof,” the defense attorney said. “Those were used as part of showing and establishing restitution and how that ultimately led a judge to sentence this man to 120 years. So that impacted, even the judge’s view, and ultimately led to that sentencing.”
“The evidence presented at trial to produce and substantiate these charges was completely different than those victim impact statements and that’s what we are claiming was lacking at the trial level,” Metcalf added.
CBS’ KOLD: ‘There Are… Challengeable Issues’
Before his sentencing, Raniere maintained his innocence. And now attorneys are hoping to “repaint the picture” with an appeal.
“This is such a voluminous case and a voluminous file that, already, there are various different challengeable issues that can be raised in this point in time… so the teams that we have put together, and that are working together, feel strong in our positions,” says attorney Steven Metcalf.
“Errors are always possible, and when errors are possible- and the only way to ensure somebody was properly convicted, and to make sure that the constitution was properly followed – we have to take the appeal,” says attorney Martin Tankleff.
But the attorneys have made it clear, they just want the truth and are not negating the pain that many say they have endured at the hands of Raniere.
“Even if Keith were guilty on the facts, which we certainly believe that he is not, but even if he were, he has to lose by the rules,” McBride told KOLD. “There is a system of laws and procedures set in place and if somebody’s going to lose their trial, it’s got to be a fair trial. They’ve got to lose on the facts, by the rules. And if they don’t, then it’s a no-go.”
The attorneys say Raniere is eager and ready to begin this undertaking with a new legal team, and say there is an element of finality for him right now, as Tucson will be his home for the foreseeable future.
Rochester First: ‘Raniere Always Treated Unfairly’
Lawyers Martin Tankleff, Joseph McBride, and Steven Metcalf II have joined the convicted sex trafficker’s legal team. Metcalf’s firm is affiliated with Christopher Darden, a prosecutor in the O.J Simpson trial.
“We believe that when there’s a full presentation, the court of appeals will reverse this case,” Tankleff told NEWS10ABC.
Raniere was recently transferred to a prison in Arizona, a move his team disagreed with. However, their request to keep him in Brooklyn was denied by the trial judge. U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis. Raniere is currently recovering from COVID-19, according to his lawyers, and they say they want to raise that on the appeal.
“He went from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania,” Metcalf explained, “then there were various different trips before he actually got to Arizona…we later learned how grueling [that process] was.”
They say this journey also came at a time when they wanted to meet with Raniere to discuss the ongoing restitution process.
“We do wholeheartedly believe that if this were anyone else, he would’ve been treated very differently,” said McBride, “but because it was Keith Raniere, he was treated unfairly. That seems to be the ongoing theme with him.”
Setting the Record Straight on Law & Crime Host’s Comments
Editor’s note: The following is not meant to say that Raniere did not commit many egregious acts. But it is important to get the facts right:
If Law & Crime Daily host Brian Buckmire was quoted accurately, his statements about the case are not accurate. He reportedly said that “over 15 victims testified against Raniere and that five women in his inner circle pleaded guilty to exchanging sexual favors and to branding many of those women who were lower down the hierarchy [of DOS].”
The people who actually testified at trial as to being victims of Raniere were seven [not 15]. They are Mark Vicente, Sylvie, Daniela, Lauren Salzman, Nicole, James Loperfido, and Jessica Joan AKA Jaye.
Generally, testifying that is done at a trial is under oath and subject to cross-examination. This is not the same as reading a victim impact statement before the court at a sentencing hearing. There were 14 people who read victim impact statements at Raniere’s sentencing hearing. These statements were not made under oath and were not subject to cross-examination.
Buckmire also said that “five women in his inner circle pleaded guilty to exchanging sexual favors and to branding.” This also is inaccurate. None of the five women who pleaded allocuted to exchanging sexual favors or branding. Nancy Salzman pleaded guilty to racketeering, without any sexual crimes or branding. Kathy Russell and Clare Bronfman pleaded guilty to acts of fraud, without any sexual element or branding. Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy – without any admission to any sexual crimes or acts or branding. However, Allison and Lauren were involved in branding. Allison was also involved in subjecting her slaves to seduce Raniere, which formed the basis of Raniere’s sex trafficking and attempted sex trafficking charges.