NXIVM chief Keith Raniere added renowned New York criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich to his legal team ahead of his appeal.
Court documents dated July 2 show Fernich joined Raniere’s case. Fernich’s clients include drug dealer Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, mafia boss John Gotti and Jeffrey Epstein– the deceased financier accused of sex trafficking.
Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking, racketeering and more for his role in leading the NXIVM sex cult. A judge last October also ordered him to pay a fine of $ 1.75 million.
NXIVM bills itself as a self-help group, but federal investigators have said there is a secret sect within the group where women are forced to have sex with Raniere, send nude photographs and mark their initials on their skin.
A witness at trial, identified as Camila, said Raniere began sexually abusing him when she was 15 and 45. She said Raniere expected her to be available for sex anytime during their 12-year relationship. She said he also watched what she ate and wanted her to weigh less than 100 pounds, and once ordered her to have an abortion.
US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis described Raniere as “ruthless and inflexible” in “particularly egregious” crimes.
Rainiere’s attorneys maintained his innocence throughout the court proceedings, and Raniere told the court he “had no remorse for the crimes I did not commit.” Immediately after the conviction, his lawyers announced that they would appeal the decision.
Last week, Smallville Actress Allison Mack was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $ 20,000 for her involvement in NXIVM. Mack, 36, pleaded guilty in April 2019 to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges related to his high-profile role in the group.
“I renounce Keith Raniere and all of his teachings,” Mack said during his sentencing hearing.
Investigators said Mack falsely told other women she recruited for NXIVM that they were joining a women’s empowerment group or a sorority. She also intentionally concealed Raniere’s role in the group.
“I’m sorry for those of you who I brought into NXIVM,” Mack wrote in a letter filed in court before his sentencing. “I’m sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a crooked man. I’m sorry I encouraged you to use your resources to participate in something that was ultimately so ugly.”
News week contacted Fernich to comment on his membership in Raniere’s legal team, but did not receive a response until publication.