By Dianne Lipson
After Moira Penza concluded her closing arguments, the high-priced, extremely articulate and persuasive lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, began his closing statement.
I will paraphrase his remarks including those in quotations marks.
Agnifilo told the jury that theirs is an important job and asked them to look at each of the charges. He understood that they might have an emotional reaction to what they heard in court, but asked the jury to carefully go through what’s actually charged. He said that Penza did a good job of going through what was charged against Keith.
He pointed out that Keith was not charged with having sex with Camila.
He explained that this is a case about a racketeering enterprise and “enterprise” means that people act together. This is not about Keith acting alone. He said the government is basically saying that Keith did not act alone.
Agnifilo tried to make a distinction based on legal principles. Racketeering cannot be Keith alone — different people have to be in on the enterprise.
“Do we have a common purpose?” he asked. “Is Keith’s purpose common to anybody else? This is not a technicality. This is the law for racketeering charges. Is there an enterprise? Is there a common purpose? Is there a common purpose between Nxivm and DOS? Nxivm is a business? There’s nothing businesslike about DOS.”
Agnifilo said DOS is a social group. It has nothing to do with commerce.
“Ask yourself, what’s the common purpose of Nxivm and DOS? he said.
Then he shifted to Daniela. He said there was no evidence that Keith was involved in aiding Daniela in illegally crossing the border other than Daniela saying Keith is involved.
He repeatedly called into question Daniela’s truthfulness, saying she is the one who crossed the border illegally.
“Even if you believed Daniela’s testimony,” he said, “there is nothing in the testimony that Keith is involved in a plan of a fake ID of another person. There are no emails or text messages. Nothing. Nothing written connected to Keith. Daniela is the only source of information for this.”
He said, “It does not matter if I say a witness is truthful or untruthful, it’s up to you, the jury, to decide.”
He then praised the jury, saying, “I’ve never had a jury that was on time every single day. You are an unusual jury. You’re on the jury to be critical thinkers. Daniella said she flew to Canada and she said her father paid her fare. Daniella says Kathy Russell gave her the fake ID card. Yet there is no record that Kathy Russell left the USA or came back to the USA [on customs records].
“And why is there no record? Did Kathy Russell come across the border and come back? Maybe US Customs didn’t enter her name coming in – but they did enter Dani – with her fake name? But why would it be both times that Kathy’s name is not entered? Kathy crosses the border twice, and there’s no record. That’s hard to believe, I submit,” Agnifilo said. “Maybe Kathy Russell didn’t go to Canada.
“Does that mean Daniela made her own fake ID card? Daniela made a fake ID for Camilla. Daniela made a fake national ID card for Camilla, so she could travel to Mexico. Did she make a fake ID for herself?
“Daniela can’t testify that Keith came up with the master plan. Daniela couldn’t remember if Kristin Keeffe was there. Yet Kristin played some role, rather than Keith, in trying to get Daniela back. Kristen was in Niagara Falls at the time.
“Daniela was so detailed on the crossing and that Kathy handed the fake ID to her.
“Dani has this level of detail about the crossing. But Daniela doesn’t remember if Kristin was with her on her trip back to Albany? She said she didn’t remember. I submit Daniela is keeping Kristin out of it.
“Daniela didn’t know that there were receipts showing Kristin was there, placing Kristin in the area. There’s no evidence that Keith was involved in getting Daniela over the border with a fake ID.”
He then added that Dani was good at deception. She was the one who asked about the weather to distract the customs official. She was the one who wanted to get into the country illegally. She was the one who did not consult with an immigration attorney available to her. She committed the crime. Not Keith.
And she was the one who hacked into James Loperfido’s computer and helped hack into Edgar Bronfman’s computer.
“There is no reason to think Keith was involved in trying to get into Loperfido’s emails. It’s not a Keith issue. They didn’t have any real connection. Loperfido only met with Keith twice. Loperfido was not on Keith’s radar screen.”
Agnifilo again tried to blame Kristin saying it was her issue and at her command that Dani hacked Loperfido.
[He tried, again and again, to make a bogeyman out of Kristin – the longtime victim of Raniere – who operated at his behest and had to flee the cult with her son and went into hiding to escape his vengeance.]
Agnifilo spoke of the keylogging of Mariana. Daniela sent Keith Mariana’s key log record by email. She did not do that with Loperfido.
“How does Daniela explain that she did not do the same for Loperfido as she did with Mariana? Daniela said she gave Keith the information on a thumb drive for Loperfido but there’s no email evidence. Nothing but Daniela’s word.”
As for Rick Ross, Agnifilo suggested [again] that it was Kristin Keeffe who had the obsession with Ross – not Keith.
As for Edgar Bronfman, he again tried to blame Kristin.
“I submit that this is Kristin’s and Daniela’s doing regarding the key loggers and that’s what the emails show.”
Then we get to the video that was altered by Mark Vicente. Agnifilo said there’s no proof that the video Vicente altered was ever turned over to Ross. Vicente testified that he altered a video, true. But there is no proof that that was the video sent to Ross’s attorneys.
Returning to Mariana’s keylogging, which is identity theft, Agnifilo said the prosecution has to prove that there was no authorization. Mariana is in a close, loving relationship with Keith for many years.
“There is no indication of criminal intent. Keith wanted to get into her Facebook. There was an indication that Mariana tried to get into Keith’s Facebook. She’s doing it; he’s doing it. There is no indication that Mariana objected.”
Next was document servitude. He pointed out that keeping Daniela in the room is not a charged crime. And it was not for the purpose of forced labor. He said there’s no evidence that Daniela was put in the room so she could work. The testimony was that it was punishment. In fact, Keith complained that there was work and she couldn’t do it.
He pointed out that Daniela has a family. “You can’t ignore that.”
He said, “Her father is a very successful businessman. He’s got a college scholarship. He’s a very capable man. He made sure that the kids got an education and played sports. There’s no evidence in the record that the dad got run over by Keith. The dad was involved in this – from the emails. He had real frustration with Daniela. He says Daniela stole money from him and hacked into his Facebook.
“I submit the dad is frustrated. I’m not picking on Daniella. There’s enough evidence that the father wanted her in the room because of Daniela’s conduct,” Agnifilo said.
“Daniela wrote down things that she did wrong. Part of it was that she stole from a number of stores such as Walmart.”
Agnifilo said, “She stole from stores and someone other than her knows it. Probably her father and the father expressed frustration for Dani stealing from him.
Agnifilo asked, “How is this all on Keith? I submit that the dad was frustrated because Daniela stole from those stores. In her testimony, Daniela said she didn’t know why she wrote in her notes that she stole from various stores. But why did she write it? Because it’s true.”
Regarding document servitude, he said that Daniela asked her father [not Keith] for her documents. He said that Kristin and her father drove her to Mexico. The accountant was waiting, so they weren’t leaving her to fend for herself.
“How did Dani get herself into this problem? She made an adult decision to come to the US illegally,” Agnifilo said.
He switched to her abortion, saying that Dani was the one who was not honest.
“In her visit to the clinic, where she got her abortion, Daniela said she’s visiting from Mexico. That’s not true. She’s slick. She knows how to play the game. She asked the immigration guy how’s the weather in the US?” Agnifilo said. “She’s not totally honest.”
He then turned to Pam Cafritz’s bank account and credit card.
He asked is there any evidence that Keith didn’t have the authorization to use these things?
“On Pam’s credit card, when she was alive, she paid for Keith and Mariana. After Pam passes away, Keith does not do anything different than what Pam was doing when he and Mariana and Pam were living together. Keith writes checks from Pam’s account. He signs his name. He doesn’t forge Pam’s name. The bank cleared the checks. He’s not stealing Pam’s identity.
“I submit this cuts to the heart of the government’s theory. Pam passed away. The Trust has Keith as a beneficiary. He’s not looting Pam’s estate. It’s his money,” Agnifilo said.
Next, we get to DOS.
Here Agnifilo tried to paint Keith as a man of principle. There is an audio tape where Keith talks about commitment, the power and potency of commitment. That is virtue builds character and personal power. He says without commitment, there’s no character and no potency. He is referring to the value of collateral to build commitment and character.
“We’re not talking about collateral as something to hold over someone’s head. We’re talking about collateral as giving one’s word additional weight. That’s all that is,” Agnifilo argued, “Listen to him talk about it, not what someone else says and not what someone else thought.”
As for DOS, and the freedom Keith offered the women in creating it, he said, one vignette sums up Keith’s role: “Nicki Clyne is coming up with something called the Game and wants advice. Keith says ‘you can use your own brain or you can rent mine.’”
Agnifilo pointed out that this trial features witnesses telling a lot of stories. Sometimes there is no witness just an email or chat.
“I submit there’s no uniformity,” he said.
He said the word “cult” is just a word. “Using that word is a dead end.”
He explained that Keith’s relationship with each women is abisutely unique. It’s a long term serious relationship. It’s a life commitment.
He said that he asked Lauren Salzman if her relationship with Keith had ended and Lauren said “for me it has.”
Lauren was asked about the arrest. He kept saying Lauren “spoke from the heart.”
“She went through that story for a reason. The long, detailed emotional answer about the police [at Raniere’s arrest in Mexico] with machine guns and black hoods, pointing guns at her. That was her way of saying, ‘I’m breaking up with you. Okay, we’re done. I’m breaking up.’ That was her really saying, ‘I’m breaking up with you.’
“She went through all that frustration and heartbreak. The reason it’s important is because it was a real relationship. She said Keith was ‘the most important person to me.’ The government says that’s because of undue influence. I’ll tell you what I think it is. This is the hardest part. The witnesses have tremendous changes in their perspective. They’re not feeling the same as they were feeling….. When she says that Keith is the most important person, it’s because he made her life possible. Lauren was flying all over the world, Mexico, Vancouver, San Francisco. She thinks she is doing something to help humanity and getting paid. ‘I’m doing something to help humanity and I get paid for it.’ Keith makes it all possible. He made her life difficult, but he made it all possible. They don’t love him because he’s Vanguard. Even Edgar Bronfman took courses. These are smart people. Everybody tried to make a career….. They all believed Keith made it all possible.”
Agnifilo also spoke about Rainbow Cultural Gardens as being wonderful.
“Little kids, exposing them to other languages and cultures, making us citizens of the world. It’s not us versus them, it’s just us. I think it’s a beautiful idea. They thought it was a beautiful idea.”
“Lauren says she was attracted to Keith and that she wanted a relationship with Keith even though she knew about other women.” Agnifilo said. He said he asked Lauren if she knew about the other women and she said “yeah, I know”.
“It was a choice. I think people are making choices. She was asked if Keith was ever abusive. She said that one time he tried to pull her pants down but that when she did not want it, Keith just stopped. There’s nothing in the record that Keith was abusive.”
Agnifilo spoke of Keith having a lifestyle that in some ways was inconceivable. He had a lot of women. He could have as many women as he wanted. But the women had to be with just him. They accepted it. Keith had no shortage of intimate partners. He didn’t need DOS for intimate partners.
He did not create DOS because he wanted sex. Rosa Laura did not have sex with him. Sarah didn’t have any relationship with Keith, none of Lauren slaves had any sexual relations with Keith.
He then spoke of Nicole, an actress, of how she spoke of how excited she was to go on an audition Allison set up. But Nicole did not tell Allison that she had an intimate relationship with Keith.
“Nicole never says it’s something she didn’t want. But Nicole had options. Nicole has a loving family. If she wants to leave DOS, she can leave. She has a relationship with Keith. She sent him nice notes. They went on walks. They talked about whether they want to go on a walk or whatever. She’s having a relationship with him.
“The end of their relationship is significant, in Clifton Park, she rents a car. Keith asks, ‘So am I ever going to see you again or speak to you again? Will you say bad things about me?'”
Agnifilo suggests Nicole was improved by DOS. When Allison invited Nicole to join DOS, Nicole was battling serious depression, and suicidal feelings.
“Nicole never quite took to DOS. Ultimately she was let out and nothing happened. It ends. There were no hard edges. You saw the same thing with Lauren and Audrey. Audrey doesn’t want to stay. And Audrey says to Lauren, ‘I love you.’ And Lauren says, ‘I love you,’ back. Where’s the extortion? The extortion is theoretical. You have to have extortion in your heart. There’s no extortion; that’s just not in this. There’s no threats. No one says ‘I’ll release this collateral.’ That was never the point. The point was all about commitment. If someone had been threatened with the release of the collateral, the government would have found that person and put them on stand….
“With Nicole, after she joined DOS, we never saw the same dark emails or journal entries suggesting depression and suicide – which there were before she joined DOS. So maybe DOS worked for her…. It’s not for everybody. This is not for everybody. But for Nicole maybe it worked.”
Next he spoke about forced labor. Agnifilo said that Jaye worked for Delegates and got paid. She was asked to do an assignment that meant sex with Keith and she left DOS.
“When she got the assignment, she said, ‘This is not for me.’ She writes Keith a nice card. She left. It was a choice. Nothing happened.
Agnifilo admitted that Keith’s conduct is “pretty out there. People getting branded, assigned to seduce him. That’s pretty out there. But that’s not a crime. It may offend you or make you upset. I’m not talking to that. That’s not the issue. It is really, at the end of the day, about commercial sex? That it’s not commercial sex….”
Agnifilo will finish his closing arguments tomorrow. He says he has about 45 minutes left.
Following him will come Mark Lesko for the prosecution who will make the final statement for the prosecution, which is expected to last about one hour.
Following that, Judge Nicholas Garaufis [aided in part by his law clerks who will read a portion of it] will read to the jury their instructions. That is expected to last several hours.
If that is concluded before the end of the day, the jury will begin deliberations.
if not, they will begin on Wednesday.
If the jury does not reach a verdict by Friday, three of the jurors [who have vacations planned] will be dismissed and they will be replaced by three alternates and this newly constituted jury will start deliberations from scratch.
This suggests there will be heavy pressure on the jury to reach a verdict by Friday.