Appeals court to entertain NXIVM leader Keith Raniere’s bid for new judge

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NEW YORK – An attorney for convicted sex trafficker Keith Raniere will ask a federal appeals court in Manhattan next week to disqualify the judge who presided over the NXIVM leader’s 2019 trial from hearing Raniere’s latest bid for freedom.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is scheduled to listen to the arguments of Raniere attorney Joseph Tully at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The case will be heard in the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in lower Manhattan.

Last month, the Second Circuit rejected Raniere’s appeal. Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi and Circuit Judges Jose A. Cabranes and Richard J. Sullivan upheld all the convictions of the 62-year-old Raniere, formerly of Halfmoon, a purported personal growth guru known within NXIVM as “Vanguard,” but who is now widely viewed as a cult leader. In June 2019, a federal jury in Brooklyn’s Eastern District of New York convicted Raniere on charges of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and racketeering charges with underlying acts that included extortion, identity theft and possession of child pornography.

But Raniere, who is serving a 120-year sentence in an Arizona prison, and his attorney are still hoping for a new trial.

They alleged in court papers that during the FBI’s March 27, 2018 raid on Raniere’s so-called executive library on Hale Drive in the Knox Woods townhouse complex in Halfmoom, that agents tampered with evidence to frame Raniere for possessing the child pornography. A former FBI agent has signed a sworn statement to back the claim. The agent, J. Richard Kiper, a 20-year veteran, was not involved in the FBI investigation of Raniere.

Raniere’s legal team filed a motion with Garaufis asking the courts to consider the evidence and to recuse himself; Garaufis withheld judgment until Raniere’s appeal was decided.

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  1. Another appeal that probably won’t work out. Raniere can’t be released before June 27, 2120. Something tells me that he won’t make it.

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