Susan Necheles, Clare Bronfman’s lead attorney, wrote to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis yesterday, seeking to end Bronfman’s home detention.
At Bronfman’s last court appearance on July 27, Judge Giraufis ordered Bronfman to be under house arrest and not contact any “members or former members” of NXIVM. Judge Garaufis said he would reconsider these conditions at her next court appearance, which is scheduled for today, August 21.
Necheles now seeks permission for Bronfman “…to travel in Manhattan up to 96th Street, in Brooklyn only insofar as to include the EDNY Courthouse, not to include airports, and would not travel outside this pre-approved zone unless she obtains prior approval from Pretrial Services or the Court.”
Bronfman’s proposed new conditions are:
1. Home curfew from 8 pm until 6 am;
2. Report to Pretrial Services once a week in person;
3. No contact with co-defendants except in the presence of attorneys.
She would still wear an ankle monitor.
If the judge approves these conditions, Clare would not be permitted to speak with co-defendants Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack and Kathy Russell outside the presence of her attorneys.
She would be free to speak or meet with all other NXIVM members, which her lawyer admits number in the multiple 100s, possibly thousands.
The prosecution will oppose Bronfman’s release. The government indicated it will ask the Court to keep Bronfman on home detention.
Necheles sees it differently. She wrote the court, “This … is unnecessarily restrictive of Ms. Bronfman’s liberty… Ms. Bronfman has proposed that during the hours of 6 am and 8 pm she be permitted to move freely within a certain area of Manhattan and Brooklyn while still being monitored by the Electronic Monitoring Unit…. our understanding is that Pretrial can essentially draw a line on a map and set up an alert to be notified automatically if Ms. Bronfman leaves the predetermined area.”
Necheles said there is no risk of witness tampering if Bronfman meets with NXIVM members.
“The government has not set forth any evidence that would suggest that Ms. Bronfman is likely to obstruct justice… Unlike some of her co-defendants, she is not charged with sex trafficking or forced labor. The charges against Ms. Bronfman have nothing to do with DOS…. The government has not alleged (and cannot allege) that Ms. Bronfman even knew of DOS before the summer of 2017, when some DOS members began to leave NXIVM and informed … Ms. Bronfman of that fact.”[Note: June 2017 is when Frank Report first published and made NXIVM members aware of DOS. I doubt that Bronfman was truly unaware of DOS.]
Necheles further argues that “Although the government has alleged that Ms. Bronfman ‘has led efforts to discredit DOS victims and has orchestrated abusive litigation meant to intimidate and attack perceived enemies and critics of Raniere,’… Ms. Bronfman is not charged with obstruction, witness tampering, or any crime involving any effort to intimidate a witness or interfere with the government’s investigation….
“Second, there is no suggestion that she ever took any action against any adverse party, except through lawyers, and within the bounds of the law. …”
Necheles addressed Bronfman’s desire to meet with NXIVM members, explaining, “NXIVM is a company which organized self-help and self-improvement classes that anyone could pay for and attend. … Since its inception in 2001, thousands of individuals attended NXIVM classes and seminars. Over the years, a small percentage… [became] a paid salesperson, coach or center owner.
“Coaches or teachers … were … independent contractors. Hundreds of NXIVM contractors and students also chose to pursue advancement up the NXIVM ‘stripe path.’ Modeled off of the merit badge system in the Boy Scouts or the belt system in martial arts, the ‘stripe path’ offered individuals a means of demonstrating their attainment of certain goals or skills. Upon attainment of these goals, contractors and students would be entitled to place a ‘stripe’ on a colored sash that would be worn during gatherings of NXIVM students and contractors (the color of the sash itself was also indicative of an individual’s accomplishments). Individuals who were interested in pursuing advancement in the organization were said to be on the ‘stripe path.’…
“By seeking to prohibit Ms. Bronfman from associating with anyone who currently or formerly was on the stripe path, or currently or formerly was an employee or an independent contractor of NXIVM, the government is prohibiting Ms. Bronfman from contact or association with hundreds of people, many of whom are her close friends, are still supportive of NXIVM, and have nothing to do with the allegations in the Indictment. The government is ignoring the distinction – one which the Indictment draws – between NXIVM’s ordinary business operations and the criminal conduct alleged in the Indictment.
“…. The only objective the government has identified in prohibiting Ms. Bronfman from associating with hundreds of her friends and acquaintances is a generalized risk of witness intimidation or tampering….”
An oral argument is likely to be had in court tomorrow.
Bronfman is charged with participation in three racketeering acts and one substantive offense, with two instances of alleged identity theft – one against her father – and the other involving her involvement in facilitating the payment of credit card bills for Raniere’s living expenses using the late Pam Cafrtiz’s bank account. She is also alleged to have facilitated the illegal entry of an alien to the United States.
What will happen at the court hearing is anybody’s guess.