GREG STOLTZ, ESQ INTERVIEW - When I first broke the news of the FBI tampering of evidence to slap on “child pornography” charges on NXIVM “cult” leader Keith Raniere, no one was reporting on this.
But after a press conference and my article, soon Daily Wire and other conservative outlets picked up this important story about tampering. Keith’s Arizona-based lawyer Greg Stoltz reached out to me to give further detail on his experience. My interview with Stoltz in its entirety can be found here.
Our discussion transitioned over to important specific findings in the case. Stoltz, as the assigned Arizona lawyer, has a unique perspective on the Raniere case, having never heard of NXIVM before May 2022.
Instantly he found several things amiss as the case unfolded. “I've done about six month’s worth of federal practice, actively as a criminal defense attorney. Most of my work is done in state court, which means I'm not generally dealing with the FBI. But procedurally, the case was different than I'm used to, striking me as unusual. To come down with a new indictment right before trial is highly suspicious. If that happened in Arizona state court, it would have been the talk of the legal community [locally].”
Stoltz was also surprised at “the fact that the government failed to disclose so much information and made their disclosures in a piecemeal fashion. [That] was another thing that stood out to me immediately as being nonstandard and suspicious.”
But the most shocking part of the process was “Camilla, the alleged 15-year-old victim of the child pornographic images did not testify at the trial, the subject of those photos. For some reason the government never calls her to be a witness. So, she never validates and authenticates [her story] in court, in front of the jury: ‘Those are pictures of me, I remember when that photo was taken, and here's how old I was’. You can't make an unsworn statement at a sentencing like a victim impact statement, not subject to cross examination, and then use that as operative evidence in the case.”
Greg continues, “What was the legitimate basis for that decision? I think it goes hand in glove with the tampering. If Camilla got on the witness stand and said ‘those are pictures of me, they were taken when I was 15 years old. I remember that very clearly. Keith Raniere started having sex to me when I was a child’. Then they wouldn't have to fabricate any evidence at all. That would be enough to convince a jury.”
The jury however voted to convict him based on what amounts to hearsay. Stoltz says, “that's just not normal. I'm a former prosecutor, I did domestic violence cases, sex cases. Since I started as a prosecutor in 2011, prosecuting agencies have done all these collaborative things to make it easier for sensitive witnesses to be able to testify. There are grants where they trained therapy dogs, where the dog will sit at the witness stand under the child's feet where the jury cannot see the trial. [Especially] when the defendant is representing himself, and the courts have decided that it would be too traumatic for a child victim to be cross examined at close range by the person that allegedly abused them. They [also] created a process which allowed a child to testify from another room on a live video link”. None of this was even attempted during the Raniere trial.
“There are mechanisms, and you can bet that the Feds have more money and resources [than a local state government like Arizona]. There's plenty of things that they could have done to ease that burden on her so she could get on the witness stand and testify.”
Stoltz specifies his connection with the case is new. “I'm one of the attorneys that represent Keith Raniere. I was hired by Keith’s legal team in May of this year because I practice in Tucson and because Keith is housed in Tucson. The [coastal legal team from California and New York] needed to find a lawyer ASAP here in Tucson who could go visit Keith in the prison, bring him [important paperwork etc.]. I started visiting Keith once or twice a week. I had a terrible time in the beginning of March because I would go down there every couple of days, and just basically sit and wait because it seemed like they were stalling my clearance to actually get in to see him. They eventually let me into the Florence Arizona immigration detention facility.”
There was a clear sense of paranoia among those in that Florence facility wrongfully tagging Stoltz as refusing to leave when he was actually asked one day to stay and wait. “What they were doing is trying to build a case against me by saying that I had trespassed. Because if I were to refuse to leave, despite them telling me that I have to leave, that's a trespass.” If Stoltz became too much of a problem, they could build a paper trail on him.
Stoltz has seen Keith Raniere recently and gives us an account of his current state of mind and condition. “They put us in an actual contact room. But he was in a belly chain. So, his hands were cuffed to a chain around his waist. He kept trying to push his glasses back up onto his face by bringing his head down to his knee and using his knee to push his glasses back on. But even with all of that, and this big yellow and greenish fading bruise on the right side of his face. [Despite this] he was pretty much the way that he always is when I visit him, which was calm and compassionate. He always asks me how I'm doing. We have developed a nice, friendly connection over the course of this representation.”
“Obviously Keith wants to be out of prison and does not want to die in federal custody, but he's pretty sanguine. He never really [complains] when he tells me the facts about bad treatment, it doesn't have the air of self-pity. He is a remarkably upbeat person, and very focused on the task to expose the truth. He has said to me on more than one occasion, and I believe that he's genuine when he says, ‘If I were given the opportunity to walk out of here a free man, but the nation would never know the level of corruption that took place in the trial, I would rather stay here for the rest of my life.”
“The other thing he has said to me is although he wants accountability for the people responsible for the tampering of evidence, he doesn't want them to suffer any kind of punishment, because that's not his goal to be vindictive, and see other people punished, but he wants to clear his name. It's become a life's mission [to expose] the ills of the justice system, and the way it treats people and also exposing the connection between the federal government and the media.”
The Raniere case has been a perfect case study on the biases of the media. When I first reported on this, not even conservative media was paying attention. Stoltz observed this similarity with local Tucson media. “We were trying to get some local interest in this story months ago, before [Keith] ever got attacked in the prison. I reached out to a local guy that I know who runs a marketing company. And I said, ‘reach out to the local TV stations, media stations, locally owned, and see if anyone wants to cover this story. He came back to me off the record and said local news does not want to run stories that are critical of the federal government.’ Because [even local media] is beholden to the federal government for its FCC licensure. I'm not a conspiracist. But on the other hand, as the threads start pulling together, it creates a pretty nasty thought of a tapestry.”
He also observed that despite not being a NXIVM follower he got to meet many from the supposed cult. “I've met supporters who are friends of Keith, none of those people have struck me as being vacuous brainwashed cult members. They're all smart, critical thinkers and independent types.”
When asked why Raniere was targeted, Stoltz gave a similar answer to Nicole Blank Becker who I interviewed in my first story, “I think he [offended] a lot of people off through the Nexium curriculum and ESP, the executive success programs. I don't know all of what Keith is teaching because I never took any of that but I know the basics of it. The culture had decided that this had religious overtones. So now you've got sex, non-monogamy, religion. And then you get famous people involved: the children of Mexican politicians at the level of the presidency. There's enough for most of the pearl-clutching class to find something in there to be really threatened by.”
“I also think some of it is to clamp down on people in the private sector who have a lot of influence. How's the government going to condone millions of dollars that go back and forth to big names between Mexico and the US. It's not just a matter of sending an example of a threat to other people. I think it's also government virtue signaling. Criminal enforcement goes in waves, like our popular campaigns. Everyone remembers the war on drugs. The federal government and grant-making authorities get excited about some issue in criminal justice, putting all their resources towards that: war on drugs, the war on guns, domestic violence, strangulation, [even]. Around 2012, here in Arizona, it was grant money to teach police detectives and forensic nurse examiners how to tell whether or not someone had been strangled because strangulation was [being portrayed as] a common dangerous feature of domestic violence relationships. Now it’s child pornography, child sex trafficking, that's what's hot right now.”
But in this case, the key fact here is that no one really believed that while Raniere is a polygamist with weird sexual fetishes with adult partners, saying he’s even attracted to children is an unrealistic stretch. Stoltz confirms, “you look at his choices of partners, plenty of them would have been his age. All of them have been adults and some were older than him. I've represented people attracted to children, I've represented possessors of child pornography, I've represented people who are alleging people who have been convicted of sexual acts with children, and I don't believe for a hot second that he's one of those people. I don't think there's any reason and any evidence whatsoever, that he has any such attractions.”
“It would be very unusual for someone who had an honest-to-goodness attraction to children and collected pornographic images of children to have photo after photo of adult women. And then one brief photo series of one child. A psychologist here in Arizona, who was the head of the professional organization of therapists that treat sex offenders, said the same [and asked why] these obsessive collectors have it catalogued and categorized and very carefully curated collections. It's a really weird truth [that doesn’t hold up in real life]. It's way more organization than I've got for the music on my computer. Raniere just doesn't fit that profile. Look at Epstein. They had help. Everyone in their circle knew they were attracted to underage people. They had all of these facilitators that were helping bring him to vulnerable victims.”
Thankfully, Stoltz sees good things ahead for his client. “I think Keith gets out. I think they see what's happening. They have a hearing. And the government realizes there's egg on their face and they fold. The government is going to [give us] intricate and contrived explanations for each individual thing that happened. Every single circumstance will line up exactly as a result of mistake and coincidence. So, it [appears to be] a grand conspiracy.”
Stoltz ends with a Noam Chomsky quote, “If we don't give due process to the people we don't like, then we basically just abdicated our position as the greatest country on Earth. I know that sounds a bit grandiose, but if due process, if the fairness of the process is contingent upon the likeability of the accused, we are just not the America that I know any more”.
Marc Ang ([email protected]) is a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of Asian Industry B2B. He focuses on the minority conservative experience. Marc’s book “Minority Retort” will be released in late 2022.