After a six-week trial, a jury of 12 convicted Keith Alan Raniere of racketeering, conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor and other felony counts on June 19, 2019, after about 30 minutes of deliberations.
Suneel Chakravorty attended every day of the trial. He was a NXIVM coach who had met Raniere briefly a few times.
One of the most significant charges was the predicate acts of racketeering of possession of child porn and sexual exploitation of a minor.
The primary evidence was metadata, which established a 2005 date – when Camila was 15.
The prosecution relied on FBI expert testimony on the metadata from files on a seized hard drive that dated the photos to 2005, when Camila was 15.
Camila did not testify at trial.
After the conviction, Chakravorty began to meet Raniere at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center. They collaborated to find evidence of potential tampering by FBI agents who worked on Raniere’s case.
In the days leading up to the sentencing, Chakravorty with others appeared in the media and wrote a letter to the judge alleging the FBI tampered with the photos.
Eduardo Asunsolo and Suneel Chakravorty appear at a press conference to accuse the FBI of tampering.
On October 27, 2020, at his sentencing, Camila appeared.
She was not sworn and did not identify the photos, but said she had engaged in sexual contact with Raniere beginning at age 15, and that he took photographs of her starting at age 15.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced Raniere to 120 years of prison.
In January, 2021, the BOP transferred Raniere to USP Tucson. Around the same time, Raniere appointed Chakravorty his power of attorney.
On April 30, 2022, after two years of collaboration, which included retaining experts, Raniere, through his attorney Joseph Tully, submitted to the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, three affidavits from forensic experts detailing their evidence and opinions that the FBI tampered with a camera card and hard drive to fabricate evidence of the child porn and sexual exploitation predicate acts.
The foremost expert was Dr. James Richard Kiper, a former FBI special agent, forensic examiner and trainer of trainers of FBI forensic examiners. He worked for the FBI for 20 years, until 2019.
A photo of a Lexar camera card similar to the one seized at the executive library of Keith Raniere.
On the day Raniere filed the expert reports, Assistant US Attorney Kevin Trowel, in the Eastern District of New York, called the notion of government malfeasance “frivolous.”
He did not address metadata and forensic issues raised in the reports. AUSA Trowell wrote that at Raniere’s sentencing, Camila said Raniere engaged in sexual contact and took her photographs from age 15 onward.
Two days later, Raniere called Chakravorty from USP Tucson three times in the evening on the monitored prison phone line.
In these conversations, Raniere used the word “war.”
This was used in part to justify the BOP “scrubbing” of Raniere’s permitted contacts, including Chakravorty.
Raniere filed for a preliminary injunction to restore contact with Chakravorty and others in Raniere v. Garland, 22-cv-561,
In response, the BOP wrote:
In early May 2022, the SIS Department at USP Tucson was monitoring telephone calls between [Raniere] and Mr. Chakravorty….They spoke to each other about being “at war” with the federal government that would be “no holds barred.” The CTU recommended that the USP Tucson SIS Department remove all of Plaintiff’s current contacts and review all future contact requests.
Raniere’s calls to Chakravorty appear to have centered around his filing that day, and Trowell’s response.
The scrubbing of Raniere’s contacts, including Chakravorty, occurred nine months ago.
However, it may be important today, as sources suggest the BOP is considering moving Raniere out of the SHU at USP Tucson to a prison in the Midwest where there is a Communications Management Unit, a prison facility designed to limit contact between inmates and the outside world, which are reserved primarily for Muslim terrorists.
FR review of the context Raniere’s mention of war is from calls he made to Chakravorty on April 30, 2022 – at 8:40pm, 9:20pm, and 9:58pm.
Raniere used the word “war” three times.
Here are the relevant excerpts.
Three References to War by Raniere on April 30, 2022
Raniere: We’re in a war here, and we’re fighting for justice. One of the things that I said in the tape [Chakravorty was taping the calls with Raniere], which I don’t know if you heard, but [I said] ‘Lady Justice has had her blindfold ripped off by a thug who’s holding a knife to her throat.’
Raniere: We have to stop it. And they have to understand also the logic. Considering that 97% alleged [DOJ] conviction rate or 90-some odd percent or whatever, that means that all that everyone sees on TV, people going to trial, the adversarial system or whatever that is a little fringe ornament that happens in a small percentage of cases.
So what does happen?
The grand jury, which is non-adversarial, not constitutional as a final arbiter, is what is the arbiter. Say, if it’s a 97% conviction rate, and the prosecution brags about this, it’s a percentage of shame.
What it means is that only 3% prevails [at] trial, and most of the – them, don’t even go to trial. So how are they convicted?
And how do we have such a high conviction rate compared to any other civilized country, any other country?
We have more people incarcerated [than any nation]. There’s that thing on the internet from [Jeff Daniels’] Newsroom, where he’s answering the question of “why is America the best?” It isn’t. It isn’t. And he talks about, and this is before I was ever incarcerated, that we have, I think. I don’t know how much more [people in prison] than the sum of all the other countries, or something like that.
Same thing with our defense budget. But we have this shameful system that. And [Raniere’s attorney] Daugherty had looked up some statistics. Since the ’70s, there’s like a 70% conviction rate. Over the past 50 years, it’s risen to this horrible thing [97 percent conviction rate].
And it’s not just going to turn around and get a little better. It’s because of the culture, and it’s because people are allowed to call things like this [affidavits of tampering evidence] ‘frivolous’ in the government, and they can never be frivolous. Due process violation, it can never be frivolous. We [our government] have to be as close to perfect, if we want to live up to the other countries that we claim to be like, and as civilized as, like, we have to live up to that standard.
Raniere 2nd Reference to ‘War’
Raniere: This [FBI tampering] is a historical wrong, which we can translate into a historical opportunity, which we can translate into historically good change. So let’s do this. Let’s not let them [the FBI, DOJ} get away [with it]. Let’s not be light-languaged or anything like that. Is there anything else? No.
Raniere: Okay. I hope the recording is good. There’s a lot of noise around here.
Chakravorty: It’s very good. Coming in really clear.
Raniere: Okay. And [I hope] the last one came in clear because I think the last one expressed some good things.
Chakravorty: Yes, very clear.
Raniere: It’s interesting at the end of JFK, the movie, where he looks up and says, in effect, ‘give us,’ ‘get our government back. It’s up to you,’ that sort of a thing.
Raniere: And I can see, I was trying to think what sort of an argument could they say. These [tampering allegations] certainly aren’t ‘frivolous’ changes [as AUSA Trowell said]. These are monstrous changes [to the camera card and hard drive] that take a whole lot of time [for FBI agents] that just happen to line up with the government [narrative]. So if the government didn’t do it, gosh, they’re the fortunate recipient [of tampering].
Chakravorty: So true.
Raniere: But the janitor saying that “Oh, we didn’t do these,” or, “Oh, we don’t know how this happened” or whatever, that’s like saying ‘the dog ate my homework.’ The janitor did it [tampering with metadata on the hard drive and camera card, while in FBI custody.] Like in the middle of the night, unbeknownst to the FBI, some janitor came in [to FBI offices] with computer expertise and the equipment. Understand, to do some of these changes, there is no other motivation but to frame someone.
Why in the world would you change a camera card like that? Why in the world would you even cut out. If Photoshop was used, [Raniere’s experts say a photo was altered with Photoshop] why would you change the [modified] date so that it looks like it wasn’t used unless you’re trying to perpetrate some sort of a fraud? Why would you do all these things? And if you try to argue, ‘well, there doesn’t have to be changes, it [the photos when they’re taken] goes into Photoshop.’ Well then all the pictures [in taken from the camera] should have had Photoshop on them.
But really we want our government back, and this is the war.
We’re facing the beast. And right now, the voice of the beast was the person that wrote that response [Trowell]. Also, [AUSA] Tanya Hajjar, who, when we asked for discovery, insisted she gave it all. You know she didn’t, right? [The government never gave the camera card clone to the defense despite the legal requirement to do so.]
Chakravorty: Of course.
Third Reference to War
The excerpt of the third instance was the last of three calls Raniere made to Chakravorty on April 30, 2022.
Raniere: Say, I wonder how Dr. Kiper feels about his experience of 20 years in the FBI and being a unit chief. And he says he’s never seen anything like this. That’s being called ‘frivolous.’ Maybe ask him.
Raniere: It’s not frivolous. And to think this is frivolous is a horrible sin, is a horrible evil. Has to be taken out of the gov. They have to resign.
Raniere: Does that make sense?
Chakravorty: Yes, it does.
Raniere: And we need to ask for it publicly. So I’ll speak to you, I’ll try not to have too much more. Okay?
Mr. Chakravorty: Thank you. Okay.
Mr. Raniere: Yeah. We have 10 seconds, last five seconds, so, all right, send my best to everyone. And I’m so sorry, but we’re in the war now.
Mr. Chakravorty: Yes, we are.
Mr. Raniere: No holds barred.
Subsequent conversations do not seem to contain the word “war.”
From FR’s perspective, Raniere does not appear to be urging Chakravorty to take up arms, commit sedition, treason or revolution. Or if he was, we have not seen any evidence of it in the nine months since Raniere spoke of war.
On May 3, 2022, Raniere filed a Rule 33 motion alleging the FBI tampered and included the experts’ reports.
On May 5, 2022, the BOP scrubbed Chakravorty and others from Raniere’s contact list, and Raniere was not permitted to speak with him.
There may be reasons to send Raniere to a CMU, but it certainly is not because he said “war” three times on the phone on April 30, 2022. A review of later transcripts and tapes shows Raniere did not mention the word “war” again during the remaining five days the prison let him speak to Chakravorty.
It seems evident that Raniere said ‘war’ in a context of fighting injustice. He either believed, or pretended to believe, [he knew the calls were monitored] that the government perpetrated an “historical” injustice on him, and, according to him, on the American people. He was, by the way, misquoted by the BOP.
He did not say he was “at war” with the USA. He said he was “in a war” and “no holds barred.”
And so far, Raniere has lost every battle. It remains to be seen if he is sent to the CMU, just when his Rule 33 motion, whether frivolous or not, is due to be heard, dismissed or granted soon.