Feds say Raniere made baseless argument to retain NXIVM 'tech'

Albany Times-Union/November 11, 2019

By Robert Gavin

New York – Keith Raniere plans to rely on “facts and evidence” to support his claims that he holds an ownership stake in a Delaware corporation that owns the rights to NXIVM’s ideology.

But federal prosecutors in Brooklyn say no such facts have surfaced – and that they plan to seize the corporation, First Principles, which they say is legally owned by NXIVM President Nancy Salzman.

“Raniere has chosen not to further explain ‘the facts and evidence submitted with his petition,’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin Orenstein told Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in a filing on Nov. 7. “Nor has Raniere offered any arguments in opposition to the government’s presentation of the applicable law and facts in its motion to dismiss.”

Raniere, 59, known as "Vanguard," the co-founder and leader of NXIVM, faces the possibility of life in prison at his Jan. 17 sentencing for his convictions of sex trafficking, forced labor and racketeering. He has tried to keep prosecutors from seizing the Delaware-based First Principles corporation, which owned the “tech” or ideology of NXIVM.

Prosecutors for  U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue in the Brooklyn-based Eastern District of New York moved to seize First Principles in July as part of the asset forfeiture of Salzman. She pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy before Raniere went to trial in May.

On Sept. 9, Raniere’s Albany-based attorney, Paul DerOhannesian, submitted a petition describing Raniere as an “innocent owner of the 10 percent interest in First Principles, which is property titled in his own name, having acquired this property with his own lawful funds.”

The attorney wrote that Raniere claimed his right, title and interest in all proceeds and patents of First Principles" and "ethical and psychological tests, business and financial records of First Principles, Inc., all files (student and otherwise), all curricula, materials, rights and related property and any interests and proceeds derived from the assets of First Principles."

Prosecutors opposed the petition. They have moved to seize First Principles, saying the “tech” allowed NXIVM to isolate members, encourage them to take costly classes and make them dependent on NXIVM. The ideology included the NXIVM philosophy that  "there are no ultimate victims; therefore I will not choose to be a victim" and a "precept that women make excuses and claim victimhood to avoid commitments."

On Nov. 6, DerOhannesian filed a motion saying: "Although we appreciate that the court has afforded Mr. Raniere an opportunity to file a response to the government’s motion, we respectfully submit that Mr. Raniere will rely on the facts and evidence submitted with his petition."

That prompted the government's response on Nov. 7.

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