A Raniere Christmas Carol, with apologies to Dickens, purloined and maybe Toni Fly…
Keith Raniere is incarcerated. There is no doubt whatever about that.
On March 26, 2018, the FBI arrested him. On May 7, 2019, he went to trial in Brooklyn. On June 19, a jury convicted him. There was no doubt whatever they would do that.
Raniere, in custody at the MDC in Brooklyn, emailed Mariana Fernandez in Mexico, she, the mother of his child.
He was innocent, he wrote. But wealthy and powerful people, once members of NXIVM, who later disliked him, used their influence to have him prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned. He needed an advocate to help expose the injustice meted unto him.
Suneel Chakravorty was sent and began to visit Raniere at MDC.
Raniere told him he was innocent of every charge. He asked Suneel to help investigate government tampering with evidence.
Suneel got the file system “metadata” spreadsheet, including file names, dates, and times, from Raniere’s lawyers.
Suneel examined the spreadsheet and identified anomalies. Raniere examined a similar spreadsheet and identified more anomalies.
Suneel hired computer experts who concluded manual alterations took place, and a government witness lied about the reliability of the digital evidence.
Months passed. Raniere awaited sentencing.
April 6, 2020
Suneel and Raniere devised plans to show the prosecution was corrupt. They planned a competition to encourage finding evidence of corruption, and for those who did to win cash prizes.
On a prison phone call, all monitored by prison officials, Raniere said to Suneel, ‘the major witnesses all lied’ and ‘this judge’ – was corrupt.
They had to “get scrutiny on this judge, get some pundit who is willing to speak out about what this judge is saying, which is crazy, and the judge needs to know he’s being watched.”
Suneel asked Raniere if he was ready to record, then counted him off. Raniere spoke about “How much legal experience a judge has?”
Raniere and Suneel organized women to dance in front of MDC.
He told Suneel about MDC staff’s work schedules, and that they should wait for them and offer donuts and coffee as they exit the prison. “We are all in this together,” Raniere said.
Suneel told Raniere the women offered coffee and donuts, but the staff declined. How surprising was it that the MDC staff would decline food and beverage from an imprisoned cult leader who had dancers twerk outside the prison?
Raniere and Suneel discussed the success of the women dancing in
front of the prison. Suneel said inmates were “banging on their windows and making a beat.”
Raniere hoped the movement kept growing. He directed Suneel to contact more women to “danc[e] erotically” in front of the MDC.
Raniere asked Suneel how many podcasts they recorded. Suneel said over 110 official segments and 50 podcasts.
Raniere inquired whether his followers could read the messages he wrote on the light fixture in his cell.
The BOP reviewed communications between Raniere and Suneel and found Raniere violated policies and procedures.
An Intelligence Analysis in the Bureau’s Counter Terrorism Unit
drafted a memorandum seeking to block all contact between Raniere and Suneel due to behavior that compromised the security of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.
He and Suneel were recording prison-initiated telephone calls to use in podcasts and “interviews… to use in HBO, Netflix and Showtime.”
They threatened the security of the facility and the public by organizing “a group of women to show up regularly and dance provocatively for inmates to view through their cell windows.”
Raniere was moved to another housing unit in the back of MDC, so he could not see the dancing.
Then the Bureau of Prisons suspended calls between Raniere and Suneel.
A few days later, Raniere entered an individual to his contact list. His name was Mr. Isaac Edwards. While Raniere could not call Suneel, he could call Mr. Edwards. And so he did.
The BOP continued monitoring Raniere’s calls.
The elegant voice of Mr. Edwards sounded familiar to them. They compared their older tapes and discovered. The voice of Mr. Edwards was none other than Suneel Chakravorty.
October 27, 2020
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced Keith Raniere to 120 years in prison.
January 21, 2021
The USP Tucson welcomed Raniere to his home for the next 100 years. Raniere enjoyed the privileges of maximum security prison, a prison peopled with convicted sex offenders, such as himself.
Suneel signed a contract to act as Power of Attorney for Raniere.
He hired Dr. J. Richard Kiper, former FBI Unit Chief and instructor at the FBI Academy.
Kiper concluded, he said, to a scientific certainty, that evidence in Raniere’s criminal case was tampered with, and evidence was planted on a hard drive alleged to belong to Raniere.
The reports were presented to Raniere’s legal team.
At USP Tucson, Raniere and Suneeel could once again speak and meet in person, and they spoke about tampering on many monitored prison phone calls.
Now came the month of maying, and Suneel and Nicki flew to Tucson to see him.
In the honey-sweet month, and spring that must last forevermore; for Raniere was young and beloved, and it was May, there in Tucson, heartbreak came.
Twenty minutes into the visit, prison officials came to the visitors’ room where Raniere, Clyne and Suneel were gathered planning together. They brusquely told Suneel to leave. Nicki could stay.
They told Suneel he could not visit Raniere again, because he lied. He did not have a relationship with Raniere prior to his incarceration, a requirement to see a prisoner in person.
Nicki Clyne helped USP Tucson inmate Timothy Brooks with various prison and personal issues. She spoke to him on the prison phone.
One day Raniere told Brooks that when he spoke to Clyne to “send her my love.”
Raniere attended a restitution hearing by video conferencing, where Judge Garaufis and Raniere’s attorney had a heated exchange that received unfavorable publicity for the judge.
Two days later, Raniere was given a disciplinary ticket for Disruptive Conduct, Mail Abuse, and Phone Abuse for asking inmate Brooks to send his love to Clyne.
Raniere claimed this simple message did not violate policy, or threaten the safe and secure operation of the prison. Raniere believed this ticket was retaliation for the media attention the restitution hearing produced.
In Tucson, in July, they are hot afternoons and sultry nights. But July has mornings when it’s joy just to be alive, especially when you have a date with Vanguard, as Nicki Clyne did.
Ah the grief. It was her last date. For after her visit, Clyne was told she was banned from visiting Raniere again.
An investigation was launched over the “send my love” affair.
Clyne was banned, and Raniere and Brooks were sent to the SHU. He spent 97 days there from late July to October 2021.
In the SHU, he was alone for a time, and for a time he had a Hispanic cell mate. But Raniere had plenty if time to ponder and consider what was next.
He once had millions at his disposal. He had hundreds who thought he was a living god. He won the most joy while he lived among his followers. Now he alone lived in the SHU.
But at the end of the investigation – some 97 days in the SHU for a message of love passed to Clyne from inmate Brooks – Raniere got out and returned to general population, and celebrated the holidays in his unit, comprised as it was with sex offenders and other sorts of convicts.
The year 2022 began uneventfully. Raniere was determined to prove the FBI tampered with evidence. He was not a child perv like the others in his prison.
Though Clyne and Suneel could not visit him, he enjoyed the visits of his admirable friend Danielle Roberts, who came to comfort him every chance they would let her.
On January 6, prison officials told him his friend Danielle could not visit him anymore.
April 28, 2022
Raniere’s attorney Joseph Tully requested the Second Circuit to stay Raniere’s appeal from his criminal conviction pending a ruling on the Rule 33 motion they planned to file accusing the FBI of tampering with evidence.
Though Raniere could not see Suneel in person, he could still call him on the phone. One thinks perhaps the BOP wanted them to talk so they could monitor them better than they could perhaps in in-person meetings.
USP Tucson monitored the telephone calls between Raniere and Suneel, of which there were many.
They spoke about the Rule 33 motion, of how the FBI tampered with evidence, and how they were “at war” with the federal government, and that the fight would be “no holds barred.”
Then the big day came. Attorney Tully filed a motion pursuant to F.R.Crim.P. 33, requesting Raniere’s freedom or a new trial based on newly discovered evidence that the FBI tampered with evidence.
On that same day, the USP Tucson Warden scrubbed Raniere’s contact list. It could have been a coincidence. But his current contacts were removed, except Marianna and his attorneys. But Raniere did not know yet.
The next day, Raniere was on a legal call with attorney Tully, discussing.that the judge would set a hearing on the Rule 33 motion filed the day before, and how they should prepare for the hearing.
The call ended prematurely. It just disconnected. Raniere’s counselor Daniel Flores ordered Raniere to the office of BOP Acting Special Investigative Agent Anthony Gallion.
Lt. Gallion informed Raniere that his list of approved callers was “scrubbed.” Raniere could apply to the Unit Manager to have callers re-approved, but Suneel was unlikely to be re-approved.
Raniere asked Gallion why this was being done. Gallion told him there was a new investigation.
Raniere sued the BOP, alleging they were retaliating against him for filing the Rule 33, and interfering with his First and Sixth Amendment rights.
The BOP justified their position in defense of the lawsuit. They said that based on recorded conversations between Suneel and Raniere, plus advice from the Counter Terrorism Unit, they determined that Suneel and Raniere presented a threat to the prison and the public in general.
At approximately 6:40 A.M. Raniere arrived at the dining hall at USP Tucson. By 6:50 he was walking to a table with his breakfast tray.
All of a sudden, inmate Maurice Adonis Withers (BOP #10300-090) approached him and, without warning, made contact with Raniere’s head and face repeatedly with his fist.
Although he was an eastern coast judo champion, Raniere did not fight back. There were inmates and prison employees who witnessed it.
Raniere had always considered himself a superior athlete, thinker and ethicist on a higher, rarefied journey that had brought him unification, but for a moment he considered that he really was, like all the other prisoners, including Adonis, a fellow-passenger to the grave.
Based on the velocity and severity of the blows Adonis rained upon him, Raniere might have considered the destiny of that shared journey was at least for him about to be hastened, and perhaps arrive at that very moment.
The incident was believed to be captured on video, though Raniere never saw it. He believes its suppression is also part of the retaliation of the BOP.
Raniere and others suspect Adonis was hired, tempted, lured or bribed by prison officials to start a fight because Raniere was suing them or had a lawsuit against their friends at the FBI.
It would land him in the SHU, and he would be out of easy contact with his attorneys if the tampering motion got legs.
Raniere suffered a black eye, swelling, nausea, and dizziness.
Adonis and Raniere were given disciplinary tickets “201 – Fighting with another person.” Both were sent to the SHU.
For over a week, Raniere asked for ice packs to help with pain and swelling, but his request was denied.
The reason for placement in the SHU was to investigate the “fight”.
Raniere said, “I believe my placement in AD SEG… for some
specious ‘investigation’ is clear retaliation from prison officials for my unpopular crimes of conviction, and my continued legal efforts to clear my name.”
The SHU is not pleasant.
Raniere said, “I am locked in my room 23-24 hours a day. I am allowed to have only minimal property. I cannot use the phone or the email system to communicate with my family and friends. If I am let out for recreation at all, it occurs in a 5×10 cage, and lasts less
than an hour.”
Raniere ate his meals in his cell.
Rainiere was shackled every time he left his cell, with hands-on officer escorts. The shackles were painful and cut into his skin on his wrists and ankles.
He was given only one extra set of clothing, and to wash his own clothes in the cell sink or toilet, and hang it up to dry.
A man who once told the New York Times that his clothes appeared magically, now had to wash his other set of clothes in the toilet. And if he were caught hanging clothes up to dry, he would get a disciplinary ticket, and his recreation time was cancelled that day.
The cost of these stays in the SHU had weight upon his person.
Raniere was older now, his face had harsh and rigid lines, the signs of care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the strabismus eye, which showed passion had taken root, and shown where the shadow of the growing tree would fall.
They were out to get him.
Raniere was not alone this time in the SHU. He was housed with Toni Fly, an intersex prisoner with a history of 75 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) complaints.
Fly was in the SHU after alleging she was raped in her cell, taken to the hospital, and placed on suicide watch.
Raniere said, “I would never harm Ms. Fly, but I believe she was placed in my cell to fabricate a new charge against me.”
Toni Fly insisted on being called “she” and treated like a lady. Fly went to prison in the first place because she used her penis to rape her underage biological daughter, whom she fathered when she was a man.
Toni Fly was known to suffer from homicidal and suicidal ideation. But the guards seemed to laugh at Fly, and one wonders who had the most joy at pairing her/him with Raniere.
Fly was said to have been recorded making homicidal threats, including that she planned to kill any child sex offender she can.
Here she was with Raniere, who, like Fly, was a convicted child sex offender. They were together 23 hours per day, sharing the same toilet, sink, and confined space, eating together and sleeping in bunk beds, with one on top of the other.
Fly was also a talker. Raniere used to wax poetic before his followers, with doses of word salad to adoring ears. Now he heard Fly talk all day and night on all kinds of profound things. Fly would talk while Raniere tried to sleep. He would be upset if Raniere did not listen and give appropriate replies.
Raniere’s visits with his attorney Stacy Scheff, who was suing the BOP for him, were painful. and it seemed the BOP went out of their way to make it difficult.
When his attorney came, Raniere was hauled out of the SHU and sent to the non-contact attorney visit room. There he could speak to his lawyer via a phone. The phone did not function. The staff got clearance for Raniere to use the regular attorney visit room. While he spoke to her, he wore handcuffs, a belly chain, and leg irons.
Raniere had another legal visit with Scheff. The visit was scheduled for 8:30 A.M., but was rescheduled at the last minute to 9:30 A.M. When Scheff arrived, the staff brought Raniere from the SHU to the non-contact room again.
Again, the phone did not work.
It took an hour for the staff to obtain approval to go to the other room. As a result, the legal visit lasted only one hour instead of two, but Raniere in shackles, handcuffs and a belly chain had to wait in pain and was unable to hold any documents in his hands to read them.
The investigation of the fight with Adonis was finally completed. Prison officials determined Adonis started the fight. Raniere was innocent. He did not even fight back.
Raniere was notified the disciplinary ticket was dismissed against him. Adonis who spent 30 days in the SHU for starting the fight, was released from the SHU. With perhaps a pat on the back and an apology for having to keep him in the SHU for so long after he had done such a good deed for the prison, Adonis returned to General Population, a hero to the guards.
Raniere was also approved to return to general population. He felt safe to return. He had lived in general population for over a year without incident. Adonis was not in the same unit. Raniere was anxious to return. A week passed.
Officers came and took Raniere and Fly out of their cell in the SHU to a holding cell. Within the cell were 3 x 3 cages with small wooden benches. Raniere and Fly were locked in cages and left handcuffed for 60 minutes.
In this cell, as we reported previously, there were 19 streaks of feces on the wall. 19 individualized separate streaks – each of a defined shape and a separate beginning and end – so as to be able to say they were streaks individualized and not an offshoot of another.
They had nothing else to do but count them, so the number is right – 19. Raniere counted the streaks more than once, and the number was certain, 19 streaks of feces on the wall.
FR has just learned that, in addition to the 19 streaks, there were two piles of feces on the floor.
Raniere and Fly remained in this cell for five hours.
Aside from the odor of feces, Raniere was perhaps conscious of a thousand other odors floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, the dreams of a Vanguard leading his people to the promised, more noble civilization where he who had the most joy always won.
He used to have women fighting to feed him, and bring him clothes magically, as they took their clothes off and he photographed them.
And now here he was in a cage with Toni Fly, a creature who raped as a man and was raped as a woman, and 19 streaks and two piles.
Though perhaps their appetites were not so keen, they were served lunch, and the smell of the shit streaked room with two piles on the floor melded with the smell of prison lunch.
But there must have been a purpose.
Raniere and Fly cramped together with feces, were visited by members of the prison psychology staff, who perhaps came to observe them to see if they could find signs of mental stress.
Something, anything they could find, then report on Raniere’s mental state. They based their observation of him in a cage in a shit streaked cell and perhaps they could indicate from this whether he could or should not return to general population.
Later, when Raniere and Fly returned to their cell in the SHU, it oddly enough looked pretty good. But they noticed also that it appeared someone had been in the cell and gone through it all, including any written papers Raniere had.
A few weeks passed. The BOP interviewed Raniere. He did not express any fear of returning. He said he could “program very well in the general population.”
But the BOP was uncertain. They decided Raniere should not return yet. They needed further investigation.
A group of paid professionals, including Alan Dershowitz, held a press conference in support of Raniere’s Rule 33 petition. They accused the FBI of tampering in what would be, if true. a criminal conspiracy to convict Raniere. Why, this would result in more than a new trial for Raniere. If this were true, the FBI agents would trade places with Raniere in prison.
Six paid experts,
- FBI Special Agent Dr. James Richard Kiper,
- Former FBI Senior Forensic Examiner Stacy Eldridge,
- Former FBI Forensic Examiner William Odom,
- Steve Abrams,
- Stephen Bunting,
- Wayne Norris,
These six concluded the photographic evidence was staged, including manipulation of folder names and photo dates, and planting photos on a hard drive.
Professor Dershowitz, who was also paid large to appear, stated, “If this alleged FBI malfeasance turns out to be true, as our experts say it is, then this is really historic. This is really an attempt to frame somebody based on manipulation of data.”
Raniere had a legal visit with Scheff and attorney Greg Stoltz. As Raniere was escorted to the visit, his counselor Dan Flores told him he had too many legal calls and visits.
Raniere had another legal visit with Scheff. Counselor Dan told Raniere that USP Tucson did not have enough staff to accommodate his constant legal needs. Maybe he should go to another prison.
Flores told Scheff he had to cancel legal visits for a week. But she could come on Nov. 14.
Flores canceled Schefff’s legal visit of November 14. A prisoner at the camp across the road obtained a firearm, prompting the entire complex to be shut down for an uncertain period.
For more than a month, no one heard from Raniere, and his attorneys were not allowed to visit in person or even speak to him on the phone.
Thanksgiving Day passed, and Christmas drew near. No word from Raniere.
To his followers, Raniere once had the power to render them happy or unhappy; to make their service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. His power lied in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up.
The happiness he gave was quite as great as if it cost a fortune – and as a matter of fact, it did. The intensives started at $2500.
But the outside world knew nothing of Raniere. Things happened nonetheless, and it might be argued in the spirit of the season.
Whether deliberate or not, prison officials failed to give Toni Fly her medication. Maybe they wanted to wean her off.
As might be expected, Fly acted out violently. She kicked the cell door and yelled about wanting to kill someone, then kill herself.
We don’t know what the guards thought or said. If they were concerned, or if they laughed and hoped Fly would keep her word.
Raniere thought the withholding of medication from Fly was retaliation.
After six weeks of no contact, Scheff had a legal call with Raniere, her first since November 1.
Raniere was unhappy. He complained about the uneven-handed dealings of the BOP. So he got Scheff to file another lawsuit against the BOP, demanding Raniere get out of the SHU, and to speak with Suneel, and friends Nicki and Daneille, and his Mexican lawyer, Jorge de la Garza. And not to be transferred from Tuscon, once restored to general population.
Two more weeks have passed. Christmas came and New Year’s Eve has come.
Raniere remains in the SHU, and will be there as the New Year arrives at midnight.
Picture him if you will, pacing back and forth in his eight foot cell with restless haste, and moaning, his health ebbing, and Fly talking incessantly, screaming violently or crying piteously.
The holidays were here, but Raniere in his cramped cell was gone, gone from the visage of those who knelt in spirit before him.
His pale, sun-deprived, fast aging features, shriveled cheeks and red eyes, hardly knew the December season of merriment and love was here
He stiffened his gait; his lips pursed. He spoke out less shrewdly in his grating voice than when he the glorious Vanguard decreed all that was true and righteous in his community, and everyone swooned with the strength of his wisdom.
All he had now was Toni Fly.
Keith Raniere lives in the past, not the present, and unless a fool not in the future. Christmas, and the end of the year, a time when people try to begin again, a good time; a good kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; when men and women open their hearts, this time found Raniere unadorned, with only one set of clothes, prison rags, for all of that, and with none feeling charity towards him as much as he always had none for others.
When he was free, Raniere did his deeds with pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in the name of his ethics.
He won almost every fight [I recall one with this writer he lost] because he had his helpers and enablers and the money to pound hard his enemies into oblivion.
Now he fought the FBI and BOP within their custody, inside their prison. At the BOP, they’ve seen it before and know how to deal with smart guys like him. The world’s smartest, smart guys.
With him and Toni Fly. They can find the 1001 ways to torture him, and they do. And Raniere cannot rest, he has to stay. He cannot go anywhere. Yet in a strange way, it’s all the same.
When he was free, his spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of his selfish power. His life was one of abuse of anyone who ever touched him, and now in the SHU, the weary hours pass, and imagine this, there is only one journey yet before him.
When that time comes, and they know those who watch him and laugh about it privately, for they know the odds, and they are all in their favor, and anything they can do. they will do to hasten it, the quickness of the journey, and that no one will lament or weep, care or cry – save some marginalized fools they wisely cut off from contact.
And if their FBI brethren cheated to get this bastard, they will cheat to suppress him deep in the bowels of the SHU, for it is best they keep that covered inside.
They do so willfully, and close the sight forever, for no eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master! He is not worth the air he breathes in the shit streaked cell, so they say, merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Except for those who so hated the world and every joy in it not theirs, like Raniere, lately of the SHU, Tucson, Arizona, the vain little man with his brief little authority who made fast the lock on the cell long ago and barred the Spirit out.
Imagine him now. Fate left this blessing. It taught Raniere his prospects. It came to that. Raniere in the SHU, seething with mad hate, hoping to ruin the happiness of enemy or follower alike, but whining now, complaining of others’ treatment, with nothing to wait or hope for but for the journey to commence and as a symbol of his madness – as he makes his attorneys fight and his friends fill their days with quixotic gambits with feigned importance for helping the great martyr, who paces in the SHU and washes his clothes in the toilet.
A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world.