NXIVM Leader Keith Raniere Adds Ex-Jeffrey Epstein Lawyer to Legal Team

NXIVM leader Keith Raniere has added noted New York criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich to his legal team ahead of his appeal.

Court documents dated July 2 show Fernich has joined Raniere's case. Fernich's clients include drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, mob boss John Gotti and Jeffrey Epstein—the late financier charged with sex trafficking.

"Personal autonomy and individual choice, however unorthodox, are essential values. To the extent Keith's prosecution infringed those values, I hope to help vindicate them. Government shouldn't be in the business of policing morality," Fernich told Newsweek.

Raniere has been sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking, racketeering and more for his role in leading the sex cult NXIVM. A judge last October also ordered him to pay a $1.75 million fine.

NXIVM bills itself as a self-help group, but federal investigators said there was a secret sect within the group where women were forced to have sex with Raniere, send nude photographs and brand his initials into their skin.

One witness in the trial, identified as Camila, said Raniere began to sexually abuse her when she was 15 and he was 45. She testified that Raniere expected her to be available any time for sex during their 12-year relationship. She said he also surveilled what she ate and wanted her to weigh less than 100 pounds, and once directed her to get an abortion.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis described Raniere as "ruthless and unyielding" in crimes that were "particularly egregious."

Rainiere's lawyers maintained his innocence throughout the court proceedings, and Raniere told the court he did "not feel remorse for the crimes I didn't commit." Immediately after the conviction, his attorneys announced they would appeal the decision.

Raniere Hires Ex-Jeffrey Epstein Lawyer
The NXIVM Executive Success Programs sign outside of the office at 455 New Karner Road on April 26, 2018 in Albany, New York. NXIVM leader Keith Raniere has added noted New York criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich to his legal team ahead of his appeal. Amy Luke/Getty Images

Last week, Smallville actress Allison Mack was sentenced to three years in prison and forced to pay a $20,000 fine for her involvement in NXIVM. Mack, 36, pleaded guilty in April 2019 to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges related to her high-level role in the group.

"I renounce Keith Raniere and all of his teachings," Mack said during her sentencing hearing.

Investigators said Mack falsely told other women she recruited for NXIVM that they were joining a women's empowerment group or sorority. She also intentionally concealed Raniere's role in the group.

"I am sorry to those of you that I brought into NXIVM," Mack wrote in a letter filed in court ahead of her sentencing. "I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man. I am sorry that I encouraged you to use your resources to participate in something that was ultimately so ugly."

Update (7/6/2021, 10:15 a.m. Eastern): This story has been updated with comment from Fernich for comment on joining Raniere's legal team.