By definition, a “Vanguard” is someone who is at the forefront of new developments – or who is leading a movement of new ideas.
Inherent in the definition is the notion that a Vanguard has strong and rock-solid beliefs.
Whether Keith Alan Raniere is a true Vanguard is something that we’re about to find out.
Will he stay true to all the philosophical and societal beliefs he has espoused for the past two decades – and will he take the stand to defend those beliefs?
Or will he cower at the defense table and let twelve strangers determine his fate without having heard a single word from him?
Or, even more degrading to his claim to be a Vanguard, will he acquiesce to the prosecution team led by Moira Kim Penza – and accept a plea deal before the start of his trial on Tuesday, May 7th.
All those options appear to be on the table as we begin the final countdown to the start of the trial.
Well-placed sources report that there has been a good deal of dissension in Team Raniere over the past couple of weeks.
Apparently, Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney, has been pushing hard for Raniere to take a plea deal – and avoid going to trial.
And this was before Judge Garaufis’ ruling on Friday that the prosecution would be allowed to show the jury the pornographic pictures of the 15-year old girl that display her vagina and inner labia (Those are some of the pictures that were seized from Raniere’s former sex lair at 8 Hale Drive).
Raniere has reportedly refused to consider any plea deals – and threatened to fire Agnifilo if he doesn’t follow Raniere’s strict instructions for how the defense should be structured.
Shouting matches have taken place between the two – and Agnifilo has vented to several colleagues that Raniere “won’t listen to anyone but himself”.
Meanwhile, back at the Metropolitan Detention Center, things are not going well for Raniere.
To begin with, he’s back in the Special Housing Unit rather than in the Sexual Deviants Unit (We have not yet been able to verify why he was moved but we’re working on it).
And his mood has changed considerably over the course of the past two weeks.
Gone is the confident, braggadocio version of Raniere: “I’ll be out of here any day now”.
In its place is a version that has been described as both “sheepish” and “mournful”.
Most of his recent conversations with other prisoners have included lamentations about the “rich bitch” who abandoned him – which are assumed to be references to Clare Bronfman, his former co-defendant who made her first good financial investment since she met Raniere by agreeing to pay a $6-million fine in order to get a plea deal that will likely see her spend only a year or so in federal prison (The balance of her sentence will likely be spent on home confinement).
And, at a time when he really needs to be at his absolute best – both mentally and physically – Raniere is reportedly having trouble sleeping.
As is true in most prisons, the SHU at MDC is a very noisy place – much more so than a normal cell block. Many prisoners find it hard to sleep when they’re housed there.
Recently, about the only “good news” for Raniere was that he had money in his commissary account – and was feasting away every day on an assortment of junk foods (Potato chips and Cheetos are his faves).
But now that he’s back in the SHU, he is, once again, on restricted commissary.
And so now, at long last, we will learn whether Raniere is a true Vanguard or just a pretend Vanguard.
Will he abandon his own beliefs and instruct Agnifilo to try and work out a plea deal with the prosecution – or will he fight for those beliefs?
The last plea deals that were supposedly offered to him called for 20-years without a “Non-Prosecution Agreement” from the Northern District of New York – or 25-years with such an agreement as part of the deal.
And if Raniere does, in fact, go to trial, will he take the stand to explain to the jurors why he should be acquitted on all charges?
Vanguard or Vanfraud…we’ll soon find out.