NXIVM leader Raniere wants new judge to consider claims he was framed

NEW YORK — The attorney for Keith Raniere wants a new judge to consider the NXIVM leader’s latest bid for a retrial, saying the judge who presided over Raniere’s trial lacked “judicial temperament” and showed a “personal distaste” for the former Halfmoon-based guru .

In a motion filed Friday in US District Court in Brooklyn, Raniere attorney Joseph Tully called for another judge besides Senior US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, threatened noting the trial judge to have one of Raniere’s former attorneys arrested last summer during a heated courtroom exchange.

The California-based Tully wants a new judge to rule on evidence he submitted earlier this week: the defense’s claim that federal planted evidence to frame Raniere of possessing child pornography in its raid on a townhouse on Hale Drive in Halfmoon on March 27, 2018 .

“In this case, disqualification and reassignment are the only way to preserve Mr. Raniere’s, the rule of law, and justice — let alone the appearance of justice,” Tully stated. “The court’s history of biased comments and rulings, in this case, establishes that Judge Garaufis cannot engage neutrally and impartially moving forward. Only a new judge can fairly adjudicate any further issues in this case without these pre-existing biases and prejudices.”

Tully said Garaufis “displayed, to an ordinary observer, a lack of judicial temperament and expressed its personal distaste for Mr. Raniere and his counsel such that the court’s conduct neither satisfies justice nor any appearance of justice.”

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have previously called the allegations of tampering frivolous. The former 15-year-old victim whose images appeared in the child pornography spokes at Raniere’s sentencing in October 2020. The woman, now in her 30s, said Raniere began grooming her at age 13, started a sexual relationship with her at 15 and filmed the child pornographic images of her. She told Garaufis that Raniere “used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me — not just sexually but also psychologically. He manipulated me into what he wanted, for his own reasons and for his own pleasure.”

Raniere, 61, known in NXIVM as “Vanguard,” who led NXIVM and its Executive Success Programs (ESP) in Colonie for 20 years, is serving a 120-year sentence in federal prison in Arizona for sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering charged that included underlying acts of extortion, identity theft and possession of child pornography.

Tully contends Garaufis, a judge since August 2000, showed bias against Raniere in several ways, including his reference to star prosecution witness, former NXIVM official Lauren Salzman, as a “broken” person, and in telling Raniere co-defendant Clare Bronfman, serving Nearly seven years in prison for conspiring to conceal and harbor illegal immigrants for financial gain, and identification fraud, that she refused to “renounce” Raniere.

Tully’s motion included excerpts from a July 21, 2021 hearing when he and then-Raniere’s attorney, Marc Fernich, exchanged heated words after Fernich asked for an adjournment to attend the funeral of a fellow attorney, Joel Winograd. The judge allowed Fernich to attend the service but brusquely told Fernich he could have been in court earlier.

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