NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Lawyers for former NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere want a new federal judge to consider last week’s request for a new trial, which alleges federal authorities framed Raniere for plant child pornography on a hard drive.
In a new court document, Raniere’s attorneys lashed out at U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, saying he displayed a “lack of judicial temperament” and “deep-seated and unequivocal hostility” toward Raniere throughout the process that ended with a 120-year sentence in federal prison against the disgraced self-improvement guru for sex-trafficking conspiracy.
They cited a heated argument last year in which Garaufis threatened to have one of Raniere’s attorneys arrested during a restitution hearing in which Raniere was ordered to pay 21 victims $3.5 million, a sum that included cost of surgical removal of tattoo scars performed as part of the rites of a secret brotherhood within NXIVM.
“Only a new judge can fairly adjudicate any other issue in this case without these pre-existing biases and prejudices,” attorney Joseph Tully wrote in the request filed Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.
“Anyone who had walked into the courtroom and witnessed Judge Garaufis’s outrageous comments during the trial, at the restitution hearing, or at sentencing would have concluded that the judge was biased against Mr. Raniere and his attorney.”
Federal prosecutors have not yet responded to the motion to disqualify Garaufis. They have denied Raniere’s claims about government tampering with evidence.