Plaintiff Keith Raniere, represented by his counsel Arthur Aidala, has submitted a motion to the US District Court for the District of Arizona.
Raniere’s motion requests an extension to the Response in Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment by the US Bureau of Prisons.
The current deadline is October 16, 2023, and the proposed new deadline is November 16, 2023, or another suitable date as determined by the Court.
The reason for the request is the counsel’s difficulty communicating with Raniere, because his prison, USP Tucson, is on lockdown and visits are suspended.
Raniere is suing various federal officials in his suit against the treatment he received at USP Tucson.
He alleges that the warden and other officials have engaged in systematic efforts to block his access to his legal counsel and power of attorney to consult on his Rule 33 motion for a new trial based on allegations that the FBI allegedly tampered with evidence to win a 2019 conviction on racketeering conspiracy based in part on predicate acts of possession of child porn and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Aidala, who represents Raniere in the Rule 33 motion in Brooklyn federal court and his civil suit against the BOP in Arizona, has stated that the lockdown conditions at USP Tucson, where Raniere, 63, is serving a 120-year sentence, have made it impossible to meet and consult with Raniere on his opposition to the BOP’s motion to dismiss his civil lawsuit.
Aidala told US Senior District Court Judge Raner Collins for the District of Arizona that this is his third request for an extension due to communication challenges with his client.
The reason for the lockdown at USP Tucson is not publicly known.
The BOP website for USP Tucson posts the following:
“Visiting at the US Penitentiary (USP) has been suspended until further notice.”
In Brooklyn, Judge Nicholas Garaufis has granted several extensions for Raniere’s reply to the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s opposition papers on his Rule 33 motion.
If the lockdown continues, Aidala may request another extension from Judge Garaufis, extending the deadline beyond its current due date of October 30.
In Arizona, Judge Collins may grant the extension based on the legal principle that guarantees a prisoner’s right to counsel post-conviction, derived from the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
It is well established that inmates have the right to call, write, and meet with their attorneys. It is unclear whether the lockdown prevents calls and written communications with Raniere and his attorney.
If there are written communications, it will be by mail.
Because of his convictions, including the crime of sex trafficking, the BOP has barred Raniere from using the internet.
USP Tucson is one of the few federal high-security prisons that house many sex offenders. With a Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP), USP Tucson provides specialized treatment programs for them. These treatment programs require the inmate to acknowledge their status as a sex offender, a step Raniere refuses to take.
The BOP’s decision to assign him to USP Tucson stems from his conviction on sex offenses, including the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old girl, where photographs were discovered stored on a hard drive in his library.
Raniere alleges the FBI manipulated these photos and tampered with metadata, backdating creation dates, making the subject appear younger than her actual age.
Raniere’s defense claims the subject, now 32, has an ageless quality that belies her youthful appearance in photographs. The subject herself, identified in court records by her first name, Camila, has stated she was 15 when Raniere started taking explicit photographs of her. She did not testify at Raniere’s trial.
The photos above and below are reputedly Keith Raniere’s intake mugshot when he came to the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, believed to be taken in April 2018.
Judge Garaufis denied all three of Raniere’s bail applications. He remained at the MDC for 13 months awaiting trial. He spent six weeks more during his trial, being transported to and from the court by US Marshalls.
Subsequent to his conviction in June, he spent another year and a half before the BOP transferred him to USP Tucson.