Tuesday, 27 Jul 2021

Nxivm leader Keith Raniere ordered to pay almost $3.5M to victims

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This wiped the smile off his face.

Sadistic Nxivm svengali Keith Raniere appeared virtually in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday wearing a big grin — then learned he has to shell out a total of nearly $3.5 million in restitution to a slew of victims.

The sick sex-cult guru, who landed 120 years behind bars last year for his heinous crimes, was doodling as the judge began reciting the payouts that each of 21 victims would receive.

Raniere then slumped his shoulders and furrowed his eyebrows as the money figures started piling up.

But the convict wasn’t the only one feeling sick.

One of his lawyers, Marc Fernich, said he previously asked for a one-hour delay in the proceeding to attend the funeral of a longtime friend, only to be denied the request by the judge — and the move eventually led to a bizarre showdown in Tuesday’s courtroom.

Fernich and Judge Nicholas Garaufis spent half an hour at one point in the proceeding staring at each other in silence while feuding over the issue — as the rest of the courtroom nervously looked on. 

Fernich had written to the judge Sunday, when his friend and mentor died, seeking the hour delay in the hearing, he told The Post. 

Garaufis responded with one word, “No,” the next day, the lawyer said. 

Tuesday’s extraordinary court stalemate then came after Fernich asked for more time with Raniere to review some submissions related to the hearing and Garaufis rebuffed him. 

“You’re the same individual who told me you had to go to a funeral today. I’m tired of this,” Garaufis said. 

Fernich, when later asked if he had any final words at the proceeding, then told the judge, “Understand my advice,” apparently referring to giving lawyers more time.

Garaufis cut him off, saying, “Excuse me, no speeches in my courtroom.”

Fernich shot back to the judge that he lacked “human decency” — prompting Garaufis to grab a blue box of tissues near him and gesture toward a court clerk, saying sarcastically, “Give him this to go cry.” 

The judge then put the box back on his desk and threatened Fernich with arrest unless he sat down.

The lawyer sat, and after about 10 seconds of silence, said, “You can stare at me all you want, Your Honor, all you want.”

The pair then bickered some more, with the veteran judge saying, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Fernich replied, “Nor have I, sir.”

During the ensuing 30 minutes of silence in the court, from 3:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., as the lawyer and judge stared at each other, Fernich’s law partner in the case, Jeffrey Lichtman, consulted with him. Both men at different points also separately asked Garaufis if they could speak privately with him. The judge refused to talk out of the public eye.

Fernich then finally stood up and said, “I apologize for disrepecting the court’s institutional authority.

“It’s an emotional time for me,” he added.

The lawyer told The Post after the strange proceeding, “It was an unfortunate episode.

“Sorry that it escalated the way it did. I certainly wasn’t using it to try to delay anything. I completed all the work. Sudden death of a friend.”

Raniere kept his mouth shut throughout the ordeal between his lawyer and the judge.

In terms of restitution, the largest chunk in the pot he has to pay, or nearly $508,000, was reserved for a victim only identified as Camila.

Camila said in gripping testimony at Rainere’s trial that she met him at age 13 in her native Mexico — and was a 15-year-old virgin when the then-45-year-old sicko raped her in 2015.

He also had sex with her two sisters, and all three of the siblings eventually got pregnant by him, according to one of the other women. Raniere forced them to get abortions, the woman testified.

Raniere, 60, had rambled at Tuesday’s hearing when told his victims wanted back the nude photos and videotaped “confessions” that they were coerced into making by his “slave master” followers — who collected the items as twisted “collateral” to force the women into unwanted sex acts.

“I never handled the collateral,” claimed Raniere — appearing by video from the federal prison in Tucson, Ariz. “I know nothing about it. I don’t have it.”

“I don’t know who the victims are,” he added. “I don’t know what they’re asking.”

The convict was dressed in prison scrubs and had an ill-fitting face mask that frequently slipped down on his chin, revealing him nonchalantly smiling at times during the proceeding. He also wore glasses that were being kept together partly by white tape.

Raniere, who routinely abused “slaves” he branded like cattle and forced them to sleep with him, had already been ordered to cough up a $1.75 million fine at his sentencing in October.

The master manipulator masqueraded as a supposed upstate self-help leader to lure women into his clutches, creating a twisted inner sanctum known as DOS in which its “slave-master” members would recruit sex victims for him.

About 100 people originally sought financial retribution against Raniere.

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