Keith Raniere Hires Jeffrey Epstein Attorney Marc Fernich
Skip to main content
Watch Our Live Network Now

Convicted ‘Sex Cult’ Leader Keith Raniere Just Hired Dead Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s Attorney; He’s Already Got Bill Cosby’s Counsel

Keith Raniere, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby

An attorney who once represented the now-dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein signed up on Friday to represent the man convicted and sentenced to 120 years in prison for leading an alleged sex cult.

Keith Raniere, the man a federal jury unanimously believed was the mastermind behind NXIVM (pronounced ‘NEX-ee-um’), has hired noted New York criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich, court documents dated July 2nd indicate.

“I am admitted or otherwise authorized to practice in this court, and I appear in this case as counsel,” Fernich wrote in a document filed in the Eastern District of New York — citing Raniere as his client.

When asked by Law&Crime about the extent and the goals of the representation, Fernich said he was joining current counsel on the matter.

“Mr. Raniere has retained Jeff Lichtman and I to handle all aspects of his district court and appellate litigation,” Fernich said.

Presumably, that could include motions for a new trial and other appellate issues, though Fernich did not go into specifics.

Raniere’s legal team previously ballooned to include attorney Jennifer Ann Bonjean, whose legal arguments helped spring alleged sexual predator Bill Cosby from a Pennsylvania state prison this week.  Bonjean joined Raniere’s case in Jan. 5.

A federal jury convicted Raniere, 60, as charged by federal prosecutors after only four hours of deliberations.  The crimes included forced labor, human trafficking, sex trafficking, money laundering, child exploitation, possession of child pornography, racketeering, identity theft, obstruction of justice, wire fraud, and visa fraud.

Raniere was revealed to have been known as “Master,” “Grandmaster,” and “Vanguard” within NXIVM, which officially described itself as a self-help organization.  Raniere unsuccessfully attempted to proclaim his innocence throughout his trial and at his subsequent sentencing proceeding after conviction.  His defense attorneys during his trial — who did not include Fernich — called zero witnesses on his behalf, but rather claimed that the “distasteful” Raniere maintained a “disgusting lifestyle[]” that was not “criminal.”

That tactic — thus far — has done nothing to help Raniere’s case.

In a statement to CNN, Lichtman said Raniere made him aware of “significant new facts which call into serious question some of the most prejudicial evidence entered against [Raniere] at the trial.”  He cautioned those watching the case “to appreciate that everyone accused of a crime deserves justice and a fair trial, regardless of who they are and what they’ve been charged with.”

Lichtman previously represented drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and ex-mobster John A. “Junior” Gotti, who was convicted and imprisoned but later four times acquitted of criminal charges.  Fernich was also on both the “El Chapo” defense team and the Gotti defense team.

Fernich was vocal about Epstein, the pedophile who took his life in a New York jail in 2019, and lodged both strong and numerous complaints about the circumstances which led to his then-client’s death.

As the New York Post and Fox News both reported on August 10, 2019, Fernich blamed “overzealous prosecutors,” “pandering politicians,” “compliant judges,” “greedy plaintiff’s lawyers,” and a “hysterical press corps” for what happened to Epstein.

The defense lawyer said all of the above “seem[ed] to have a share of Mr. Epstein’s blood on their hands” and specifically called out prosecutors “bent on locking up a presumptively innocent man” who he said posed “no real danger or flight risk,” the Post said.  He further slammed the politicians “who wrote the restrictive bail laws that empower” prosecutors to keep defendants locked up prior to trial, according to the report.

Fernich also called out Epstein’s jailers for “recklessly” putting his client in harm’s way and “heedlessly placing his life at risk and failing to protect him,” the report says.  And the press, Fernich said, was “clamoring to recharge Mr. Epstein with dated crimes for which he’d long since paid his debt to society under an arm’s length plea deal — just because he had the misfortune to be a wealthy man in the #metoo era whose former prosecutor happened to take a job with President Trump.”

“Greedy plaintiff’s lawyers . . . instigated and exploited the media frenzy to line their own pockets,” Fernich continued in that 2019 bout of criticism. “Breathless reporters [were] excavating every corner of Mr. Epstein’s life to pile on, tear him down and kick him at his lowest — while still presumed innocent, before he’d had his day in court.”

Fernich’s full statement at the time is contained within the Fox News report.

According to federal court records, Raniere’s full legal team currently consists of Bonjean of Brooklyn (as of Janunary 5, 2021); Paul DerOhannesian, II of Albany, N.Y.; Jeffrey Benson Einhorn (of Lichtman’s New York City office, as of June 30, 2021); Fernich of New York (as of July 2, 2021); Jason Goldman (also of Lichtman’s office, and also as of June 30, 2021); Jacob Kaplan of New York; Lichtman himself (as of June 30, 2021); Joseph Daniel McBride of New York (as of February 4, 2021); Steven Alan Metcalf, II of New York (also as of Feb. 4); Avraham C. Moskowitz of New York; Martin Harold Tankleff of Manhattan (as of March 24, 2021).

Attorneys Marc A. Agnifilo of New York, Teny Rose Geragos of New York, and Danielle Renee Smith of Albany were, but no longer are, affiliated with Raniere’s case, according to court records.

[image of Raniere via Investigation Discovery screengrab/YouTube; image of Epstein via the New York State Division of Criminal Justice; image of Cosby via Mark Makela/Getty Images]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University.  He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now a Senior Editor for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only.  You should not rely on it for legal advice.  Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.  Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.