Writ of Mandamus
The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has scheduled oral arguments for Keith Raniere’s petition for a writ of mandamus to order Judge Nicholas Garaufis to disqualify himself from hearing his Rule 33 motion.
The Court will hear arguments on Tuesday, January 24, at 2:00 pm.
A jury convicted Raniere of racketeering, among other charges. His Rule 33 Motion attacks three of the 11 racketeering predicate acts — two acts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and one of Possession of Child Pornography.
Raniere’s Rule 33 Motion includes reports from three digital forensics consultants he retained after his conviction. Their reports allege the FBI tampered with metadata and committed perjury.
According to FBI testimony at his trial, the metadata of the digital images show a Mexican woman, Camila, was 15 years old when nude photographs of her were taken.
The Rule 33 motion names FBI special agents Michael Lever, Christopher Mills, and Maegan Rees as perpetrators in the digital evidence tampering. The motion also accuses FBI Senior Forensic Examiner Brian Booth of perjury. Booth, Rees, and Mills testified at Raniere’s trial.
Raniere wants Judge Garaufis disqualified because he says the judge is biased against him.
The 2nd Circuit will hear oral arguments on the writ of mandamus on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at 2:00 pm.
[Inquiries regarding this case may be directed to 212-857-8595.]
Raniere originally filed his Rule 33 with Judge Garaufis on May 3, 2022. Raniere asked the judge to disqualify himself.
While the 2nd Circuit considered Raniere’s appeal of his conviction on other grounds, the Rule 33 motion was stayed.
On December 6, 2022, the 2nd Circuit denied Raniere’s appeal which permits the Rule 33 to go forward. Unless the 2nd Circuit grants the writ of mandamus or Judge Garuafis grants Raniere’s disqualification motion, he will judge the Rule 33.
In an earlier filing, AUSA Trowell scoffed at Raniere’s Rule 33. He wrote, “Raniere’s assertion of government’s malfeasance” is frivolous….
“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].'”
Restitution Paid to All But One Victim
According to the DOJ, all but one of Raniere’s 21 court-ordered victims received restitution from the Clerk of Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The remaining victim has not received a check and is “currently working with the Department of the Treasury to address her situation,” according to Assistant US Attorney Trowell.
The government has not identified who the unpaid victim is or why she was not paid. The mention of the Department of the Treasury suggests she may have an outstanding issue with the IRS.
The victims and their court-ordered restitution. [All but one has received payment]:
- Camila: $507,997.45
- Nicole: $412,779.18
- India Oxenberg: $298,476.65
- Amanda: $257,617.51
- Daniela: $249,200
- Sutton Family: $250,000
- Souki: $244,680.03
- Valerie: $241,247.50
- Pam A.: $172,354.18
- Audrey: $142,017.96
- Jane Doe 35: $127,504.98
- Jessica Joan: $116,568
- Kristin T. $94,215
- Paloma: $71,320.45
- Erika $59,720.25
- Add’l Jane Doe 14: $53,286.69
- Rachel: $49,748.10
- Allison W. $44,215.20.
- Sarah Edmondson: $27,408.35
- Sylvie: $25,809.78
- James Loperfido: $5,625
Raniere Didn’t Pay a Dime to Any Victim
Though the government paid most of the $3.4 million to 20 victims, Raniere did not make any payments.
The money came from the $6 million Clare Bronfman paid as part of her plea deal in 2019.
Despite Raniere knowing the government planned to use Bronfman’s money to pay the victims, he wanted the 2nd Circuit to prevent the US Attorney from paying them while he appealed the restitution.
Raniere’s attorney, Joseph Tully argued that if Raniere’s Rule 33 Motion is successful, it “would affect the grant of any restitution payments.”
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’m innocent of those crimes.”
Raniere claimed Daniela played a role in the tampering with the FBI.
Government Paid Victims Despite Appeal
On January 10, 2023, the government motioned to have the 2nd Circuit dismiss Raniere’s appeal and remand the restitution proceedings to Judge Garaufis.
The government argues that since the government paid the restitution, Raniere’s appeal is moot.
If the 2nd Circuit grants the motion, the government will move for an order from Judge Garaufis recognizing that Raniere’s restitution obligations have been satisfied through Bronfman’s payments to the victims.
It remains to be seen if Raniere will object to this motion.
FR reported Nancy Salzman paid her court ordered fine of $150,000. This was in addition to her forfeiting several properties, more than $500,000 in cash and a Steinway grand piano.
Allison Mack, who was sentenced to 36 months, and forfeited a home in Clifton Park, has also paid a $20,200 fine and a special assessment.