Keith Raniere is the famed leader of Nxivm, an alleged multi-level marketing organization that claimed to offer empowerment training but was later described as a cult. On June 19, 2019, Raniere was convicted on seven counts related to racketeering and sex trafficking. A Lifetime movie focused on Nxivm comes out on Sept. 21; it’s called Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter, and Raniere’s character is played by actor Peter Facinelli.
Raniere is now at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. The 59-year-old faces anywhere from 15 years to life in prison; he was originally scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25, but that date has been delayed indefinitely.
Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, indicated in June that Raniere, who has maintained his innocence, intended to appeal the guilty verdict. Per The New York Times, Agnifilo said, “It was very obvious the jury had strong negative feelings about Keith and about certain aspects of his lifestyle…Not everything that’s offensive translates to a crime.”
Here’s what you need to know about where Raniere is today, along with several of the other key players in the Nxivm scheme:
Raniere Was Convicted of a Wide Range of Crimes, Including Racketeering & Sex Trafficking
In June, Raniere was found guilty of several crimes, including: racketeering, sex trafficking, conspiracy, forced labor, sexual exploitation of a child, identity theft, and possession of child pornography.
In the trial, prosecutors accused Raniere of charging over $100,000 on a female Nxivm member’s credit card after she died, and of writing over $300,000 in checks from that same dead woman’s account, per The Times.
Raniere was known as “Vanguard” within the apparent cult. Many of the crimes he was convicted of pertained specifically to his apparent involvement in DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium), an all-female secret group within Nxivm.
Several women testified during Raniere’s trial to say that they’d been enticed to join DOS under the guise of it being yet another elite empowerment training opportunity, only to be told they had to provide “collateral” in the form of damaging information about themselves, and to receive a brand in the form of Raniere’s initials on their bodies. Within DOS, Raniere was the only male member and the alleged “Grand Master”; he denied any involvement with the group.
Raniere wasn’t the only person convicted of criminal acts in the wake of the Nxivm scandal; Nancy and Lauren Salzman, actress Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell all also pleaded guilty to felony charges in April 2019, per The Times Union.
Raniere Founded ‘Executive Success Programs’ in the Late 90s; It Would Later Rebrand Itself as Nxivm
Raniere is no stranger to pyramid schemes. Prior to his involvement in Nxivm, he founded a company called Consumers’ Buyline, which would eventually be investigated by over 20 states and lead to a lawsuit filed against Raniere by the state of New York.
Raniere agreed to shut the company down in 1997 and signed an order that permanently banned him from “promoting, offering or granting participation in a chain distribution scheme;” however, he also started “National Health Network,” a multi-level company that sold vitamins. That business folded before 2000. Soon after, Raniere founded Executive Success Programs, the empowerment-focused scheme that would eventually become Nxivm.
Part of the Nxivm offerings were a number of pricey courses, as noted by The New York Times: the group’s “university” option cost up to $5,000 a month, the publication reports, and covered topics like ethical and psychological theory, as well as other empowerment strategies and practices.
Per the publication, he is quoted as saying once, “If in the next moment your behavior would affect all of humanity for forever more, how would you behave? Every moment is such a moment.”
In one of his rare interviews, Raniere told The New York Times in 2018, “It’s quite a point in life for me. I question my values, how I conduct myself, all of these things. I don’t think I’m seen as the person I think I am, and I also want to be the person that I think I am.”