NEW YORK – The sentencing of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere is now firmly scheduled for June 23 — one way or another.
And one way may be a virtual court appearance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 59-year-old Raniere, a former Halfmoon resident known within his cult-like NXIVM organization as “Vanguard,” had been scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on May 21.
Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis set the June 23 date, according to a court filing Wednesday that said the proceeding will be held in the judge’s courtroom ”or by live videoconference as the circumstances require.”
“No further adjournments will be granted,” the court filing said.
The personal growth guru faces the possibility of life in federal prison on his convictions of all charges last June. Jurors found Raniere guilty of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering charges that includes underlying acts of child exploitation, possession of child pornography, identity theft, obstruction of justice, wire and visa fraud, human trafficking and money laundering,
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Raniere has been locked up in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since his conviction.
Garaufis, who has rescheduled Raniere’s sentencing several times, adjourned the most recent sentencing date following a joint request from the defense and prosecution.
Raniere lawyers Marc Agnifilo and Teny Geragos told the judge that due to the pandemic, which has infected at least one inmate in the detention center, lawyers are presently not permitted to visit inmates.
Garaufis set the June 23 sentencing for 10 a.m. The judge told attorneys to provide the names of people who wish to be heard at Raniere’s sentencing no later than June 19 at 10 a.m.
A potentially large number of victims could deliver impact statements. Raniere’s victims included former members of NXIVM and his secret master
slave group, Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS), which in Latin means “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions.”
On Raniere’s orders, DOS “slaves” were required to obey all demands of their “masters,” all of whom ultimately answered to Raniere, the “grand master” of DOS whose involvement in it was kept hidden from NXIVM and most DOS members. He demanded, among other directives, that they survive on 500-a-day calorie diets, pleasure Raniere sexually and be branded with his initials in their pelvic regions by someone using a cauterizing pen.
Former NXIVM president Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman, Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, actress Allison Mack and NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell, all still await sentencing. Each pleaded guilty before the trial. Lauren Salzman was a key witness for prosecutors.