In the motion to dismiss papers filed on behalf of Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, and Kathy Russell, the defense team for these three women has taken considerable pains to distinguish their clients from Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman, and Keith Raniere.
Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, and Russell are called the Non-DOS defendants – whereas Mack and Lauren Salzman are referred to as the DOS defendants and Raniere is…Raniere.
This may be a strategy to set the stage for separate trials based on DOS versus Non-DOS defendants and to try to break the RICO charges in half.
The attorneys for the so-called “Non-DOS” defendants are:
- Justine Harris and Amanda Ravich for Kathy Russell
- Robert Soloway and David Stern for Nancy Salzman
- Alexandra A.E. Shapiro, Fabien M. Thayamballi, Susan Necheles, and Kathleen E. Cassidy for Clare Bronfman
In their “PRELIMINARY STATEMENT” the defense team somewhat ridicules the prosecution’s indictment.
“This purported RICO conspiracy is nonsense. It is a fiction concocted by the government to, among other things, avoid serious statute of limitations problems and force all of the Defendants into a highly prejudicial joint trial, pervaded by tales of sex and blackmail. In its zeal to taint every Defendant with the most sordid allegations, the government has stitched together charges in a skeletal indictment that avoids disclosing any of the facts that might support (or, more likely, undermine) its far-fetched RICO theory.”
From here, the defense team for the Non-DOS defendants starts to note the differences between them and the DOS defendants:
They write, “The government does not claim that Ms. Bronfman, Ms. Russell, or Nancy Salzman were conspirators in the sex-and-blackmail schemes it alleges against the other Defendants. … It does not even allege that they knew about these acts. It has, in fact, conceded that they did not.”
In short, the defense attorneys for Non-DOS defendants are claiming the prosecution lumped the defendants together to fabricate a RICO case.
“… the government has not properly charged the Defendants in a single, overarching conspiracy, and it has not adequately alleged the ‘pattern’ of interrelated racketeering acts necessary to invoke RICO. … The charges against these [Non-DOS] Defendants should be dismissed outright….”
In the “Background” section, the Non-DOS defense explains that, as the Indictment alleges, Keith Raniere was the founder and leader of two organizations: “(1) Nxivm” and “(2)…‘DOS’…they have significant differences…
“NXIVM is a ‘professional business providing educational tools, coaching and trainings… similar to businesses like Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, or Landmark…”
What follows are several paragraphs on NXIVM’s virtues and successes.
Then the Non-DOS lawyers broach DOS, writing, “DOS is plainly the centerpiece of the government’s case. … the government has described DOS as a hierarchical ‘secret society’ that women were encouraged to join in exchange for ‘collateral’ that took the form of property and blackmail material, which then was allegedly used to extract additional property, labor, and sex from the victims…”
The Non-DOS team continues to narrate in the context of DOS and Non-DOS perspective:
The Non-DOS team writes, “All of the Defendants are joined in a single count charging a RICO conspiracy…According to the Indictment, Raniere and the other Defendants, who were part of Raniere’s ‘inner circle,’ constituted a RICO ‘enterprise’…
“Defendants Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman (the ‘DOS Defendants’) were members of both NXIVM and DOS…By contrast, Defendants Clare Bronfman, Kathy Russell, and Nancy Salzman (the ‘Non-DOS Defendants’) were members only of NXIVM…They are not alleged to have participated in DOS or even to have known about DOS…
The Non-DOS team disputes the indictment allegations that all defendants “’comprised an organized criminal enterprise.'” adding that “the government’s allegations do not actually suggest that the Defendants associated primarily for criminal purposes… Raniere was the founder of NXIVM; Nancy Salzman was the president of NXIVM; Bronfman and Lauren Salzman served on NXIVM’s Executive Board; Russell was NXIVM’s bookkeeper; and Mack was a high-ranking member of NXIVM…Thus, the Defendants were linked by their official positions…to NXIVM…a legitimate business… despite the RICO charge, the enterprise was not a mafia family, a street gang, a drug cartel, or any other crime syndicate whose very business is racketeering activity. Its members associated for legitimate business purposes, and the RICO charge must be evaluated accordingly.”
The Non-DOS team further evaluates the Non-DOS defendants:
“Ms. Bronfman is a member of NXIVM’s Executive Board…. Her involvement with NXIVM spans almost 16 years, beginning when she was 23 years old and first became a student in NXIVM trainings…After taking a number of NXIVM classes, Ms. Bronfman experienced profound improvements in her life and, therefore, decided to become a coach herself.
“In 2005, she retired from a career as a professional equestrian in order to devote more time to pursuing NXIVM’s mission. Ms. Bronfman eventually managed certain aspects of NXIVM and its affiliates’ business operations…
“Ms. Bronfman has considerable wealth, and she has loaned or invested many millions of dollars over the years to NXIVM or related entities, demonstrating her firm belief in NXIVM’s capacity to improve the lives of others. The notion that she was involved with NXIVM for financial gain is ludicrous.”
“Kathy Russell was first introduced to NXIVM by her hairdresser in 2001, when she was working as the controller of the Alaska Native Village Corporation in Anchorage. She took her first course in Anchorage in June 2001, and later enrolled in a second course in Albany in August of that year. Ms. Russell found the courses empowering and enlightening and participated in additional NXIVM courses and trainings in both Anchorage and Albany. In 2002, Ms. Russell moved to Albany to work for NXVIM and has worked there off and on since. At the time of her arrest, Ms. Russell was making $27 per hour.”
Nancy Salzman is NXIVM’s president and has more than 40 years of experience studying and working in the fields of healthcare and human potential. As a trained nurse, Ms. Salzman became interested in the human potential movement, sought to develop techniques to treat patients suffering from chronic pain, and studied relevant methodologies such as neurolinguistic programming. Ms. Salzman implemented these techniques in her counseling and coaching practice in Albany, eventually also securing contracts to teach human potential and performance courses to workers in large healthcare and industrial organizations, such as Con Edison Company.
“In 1997, Ms. Salzman met Keith Raniere, and the following year, they founded together a company called Executive Success Programs, which later became NXIVM…. Ms. Salzman …. has continuously served as president and is one of NXIVM’s primary practitioners and promoters….”
The Non-DOS team next goes into the charges to show there is a clear difference between the charges of the DOS and Non-DOS defendants.
They write, “The charges …. reflect the distinction between the Defendants who … were members of both NXIVM and DOS (Raniere and the DOS Defendants) and those who were members of NXIVM only (the Non-DOS Defendants). Count One, the alleged RICO conspiracy, is the only count that joins all of the Defendants. This count alleges that Raniere was the leader of the enterprise and charges him in many of the predicate acts of racketeering…
“However, the Indictment does not charge any predicate acts that the Non-DOS Defendants and the DOS Defendants…committed together:…nearly every predicate act was allegedly committed either by a single Defendant or by Raniere and one other Defendant…
“The DOS and Non-DOS Defendants are also charged with committing starkly different types of crimes…the DOS Defendants…[allegedly] engaged in acts of sex trafficking, forced labor, and extortion against…victims…
“The Non-DOS Defendants, on the other hand, are charged with a hodgepodge of white collar crimes that have nothing to do with the alleged sex trafficking, forced labor, or extortion of DOS members (or anyone else)…the Non-DOS Defendants [allegedly] committed predicate acts of identity theft, sometimes for the purpose of evading immigration laws, sometimes to intercept communications, and sometimes to evade taxes; altering records for use in litigation; encouraging the illegal entry of an alien; and money laundering.”
The defense made a chart which shows how different defendants – DOS and Non-DOS defendants are not charged together in any of the 18 predicate actions, with the exception of Raniere, of course, who is charged in most of the predicate acts, both DOS and Non-DOS.
The rest of the motion makes many legal arguments including citations of case law to bolster the argument that the DOS and Non-DOS defendants should not be joined in one big RICO case because the charges against each are not connected [other than Raniere in the middle of most of it].
This argument may augur well for the Non-DOS defendants. There is, however, an 800-pound gorilla in the room – the potential for another superseding indictment, which would render some if not most of this effort moot.
New charges may change the entire landscape and will re-set the clock, may bring in even more defendants, as well as necessitate a whole new round of motions.
That March start date for the trial — or trials — is starting to look less and less likely…