Two Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of New York, a Former Acting U.S. Attorney and a Paralegal Specialist Receive Attorney General’s Award | USAO-EDNY

Two Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of New York, a former Acting United States Attorney and a paralegal specialist were among the 298 department employees recognized today by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland at 69e Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. Fifty-four people outside the department were also honored for their work. The annual ceremony recognizes Department of Justice employees and partners for their extraordinary contributions to law enforcement in our country.

“This year’s recipients have selflessly served to advance the Department’s important work in support of the rule of law, the security of our country, and the protection of civil rights,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I am proud to recognize these individuals for their professionalism, skill and leadership, and I am grateful for the service they have rendered to our department and our country. »

“The groundbreaking work of our Eastern District graduates and law enforcement partners has brought justice to the female victims of Nxivm leader Keith Raniere and his sophisticated associates who perpetrated their crimes during years, protected by a wall of secrecy, intimidation and humiliation as the prosecution team was finally torn down,” the U.S. peace attorney said. “This case serves as a model for using racketeering, labor and sex trafficking laws to address crimes that have caused significant harm to victims. Today is also an opportunity to salute once again the bravery of the victims in this case who, after trusting our extraordinary team, found the strength to testify against Raniere, to regain control of their lives and begin the long healing process. .”

Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award

United States v. Keith Raniere et al.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tanya Hajjar and Kevin Trowel, former Acting U.S. Attorney Mark J. Lesko and Paralegal Specialist Teri Carby from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, and the investigative team – the FBI Supervisory Special Agents Anthony Bivona and Christopher Donohue; FBI Special Agents Delise Jeffrey, Michael W. Lever, Maegan O. Rees, and Michael J. Weniger; Laura B. Riso, FBI Victims Specialist; Task Force Officer Charles B. Fontanelli; and Special Agents Megan Buckley and Christopher T. Munster, Homeland Security Investigations – were recognized for their efforts in dismantling a criminal enterprise led by Keith Raniere, whose members engaged in racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labor , among other crimes.

For more than a decade, Raniere and his co-conspirators ran a criminal enterprise under the guise of various mutual aid organizations headquartered in Albany, New York, with centers operating elsewhere in the United States, Mexico and in Canada. In late 2015, Raniere created a secret society called DOS, whose members were drawn from self-help organizations. Women were recruited under the false pretense of joining a women-only mentoring group, later discovering that they had lent “vows of obedience” to women who themselves had pledged obedience to Raniere. Potential DOS victims had to provide “guarantees” to Raniere and his co-conspirators, which included damaging confessions about themselves and loved ones, whether true or not, rights to financial assets, and sexually explicit. The guarantee was used to coerce victims into providing labor and services, including sexual acts with Raniere, for the benefit of Raniere and the criminal enterprise.

After securing the convictions of Raniere’s five co-defendants through guilty pleas, the team used a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach to successfully prepare several victims for trial testimony. The team used unprecedented applications of the RICO, Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking Acts to achieve justice for victims and the provisions of the Protection of Victims of Trafficking Act 2000 to ensure victims’ participation in all aspects of the prosecution.

Following a six-week trial, Raniere was held responsible for more than a decade of crimes and exploitation that had been covered up under the guise of various “personal growth” programs. In June 2019, Raniere was convicted of racketeering conspiracy; racketeering involving underlying acts of sex trafficking, child exploitation and obstruction of justice; and substantive offenses including sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy. In October 2020, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

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