Stop the payments!
Keith Raniere wants the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to prevent the US Attorney’s office from paying $3.4 million to 21 of his victims.
Raniere’s attorney, Joseph Tully, cited their Rule 33 Motion to the court as a reason to not pay them.
The Rule 33 Motion, which was filed on May 3, alleges the FBI tampered with evidence in his case.
Tully wrote, “It would be highly improvident for the government to distribute any restitution funds before these issues are fully briefed and ruled on.”
Tully’s letter is in response to a June 17th filing by the government indicating that restitution payments totaling $3.4 million were on their way.
in the government’s filing, AUSA Kevin Trowel informed the US Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit that “restitution payments have now been processed, and victims are expected to receive their payments in the coming weeks.”
Regardless of the appellate court’s decision, none of the restitution payments will involve any of Raniere’s money.
The $3.4 million will come from the $6 million Clare Bronfman paid at the time of her plea deal in 2019. That payment was in lieu of the government going after other assets owned by Bronfman.
For months, the government set aside that money for the government to keep as forfeiture funds.
Then, in December, the EDNY shifted posture and sought to free up Bronfman’s $6 million for victim restitution. The U.S. Attorney General approved the request earlier this year.
Raniere appealed the restitution order last year.
In his latest filing, Tully explains that paying the victims now might mean trying to get the money back later.
He said if Raniere’s Rule 33 Motion is successful, it “would affect the grant of any restitution payments.”
“Thus Mr. Raniere objects to any distributions at this time,” Tully said.
Raniere accused the FBI of tampering before Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced him.
His supporter, Suneel Chakravorty, appeared on CBS News on September 29, 2020.
Chakravorty, Eduardo Asunsolo, Marc Elliot, Michele Hatchette, Brian Elliot, Justin Elliot, and Linda Chung sent a letter to the judge two days before sentencing alleging FBI tampering.
At Raniere’s sentencing hearing, Agnifilo admitted Raniere asked him to file a motion alleging tampering.
“I’m still looking into it. I don’t know if it’s going to turn the corner and become something different than what it is,” Agnifilo said. “But I decided not to file the motion my client wanted me to file.”
Raniere claims Daniela and other victims played a role in the tampering with the FBI. Daniela is set to receive a restitution of $249,200.
A jury convicted Raniere of racketeering, among other charges. The Rule 33 Motion addresses three predicate acts.: two acts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and one of Possession of Child Pornography.
The minor was Camila, Daniela’s sister.
Camila is set to receive $507,000 if the approved payments go through as scheduled.
At trial, the government produced evidence that Raniere took naked photos of Camila at age 15.
He then downloaded the photos to a computer and then a hard drive. The FBI seized a hard drive from a townhouse he used.
Raniere’s Rule 33 Motion includes reports from three forensics consultants. They allege the FBI tampered with the metadata and committed perjury.
The motion names FBI agents Michael Lever, Christopher Mills, and Maegan Rees as likely perpetrators of the tampering. The motion also accuses FBI Senior Forensic Examiner Brian Booth of perjury.
Booth, Rees, and Mills testified at Raniere’s trial.
At his sentencing hearing, Raniere called several witnesses liars. He said, “Some of these people really are not factual, and, in some cases, I believe strongly, lying… they are lying for a reason… I do not feel remorse for the crimes I did not commit. I’m innocent of those crimes. And a lot of the things that are said are simply really not true.”
In an earlier filing, AUSA Trowell scoffed at Raniere’s Rule 33.
He said, “Raniere’s assertion of government ‘malfeasance’ is frivolous.
Trowel wrote, “The crux of Raniere’s argument appears to be that the Federal Bureau of Investigation manipulated ‘computer images and photographs’ of Raniere’s victim Camila ‘to make it appear that these photographs were taken in 2005’: i.e. when Camila was a minor…
“But… Camila appeared at Raniere’s sentencing and… confirmed that ‘in September 2005, ‘when she was still fifteen, [Raniere] took naked pictures of [her].'”
At that sentencing, Raniere’s attorney argued for a 20-year sentence for his client.
Marc Agnifilo spoke about the photos at Raniere’s sentencing.
He said, “if your Honor remembers my trial defense, I didn’t really dispute the photographs all that much. The way I disputed them is they were never shown to anybody 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.”
Judge Garaufis sentenced Raniere to 120 years in prison.
It was almost a year ago when Judge Garaufis ruled on all the requests for restitution. In a memorandum, he determined who was a victim and how much the government would pay each of them.
For months, it was a judgment without assets to back it up. Raniere claimed to have almost zero assets.
Frank Report wrote a year ago in Details; Breakdown of Restitution of 21 Victims of Raniere — but Will They Ever Get Paid?
In that article, FR recommended using Bronfman’s $6 million.
Raniere’s trial ended in 2019. He was sentenced in 2020. Restitution was ordered in 2021. It is now 2022, and the victims are still waiting for restitution.
Many of them are incurring expenses for therapy. The restitution was meant in part to compensate them for past and future expenses and damages.
Here are the breakdowns of restitution for each victim.