By K. R. Claviger
Shortly after yesterday’s 2-hour Status Conference was concluded – and before he even got back to his snug little cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center – Keith Raniere got another shot of bad news from one of his co-defendants.
The same is true for Raniere’s partner-in-crime in the DOS sex-trafficking scheme, Allison Mack.
Earlier this week, we found out that Nancy Salzman’s request to be released from home detention had been approved by U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis. We interpreted that decision to mean that Nancy has cut a deal – and agreed to become a cooperating witness in the case.
Now, we find out that Nancy’s daughter, Lauren, has moved to have her trial severed from that of Raniere and Mack.
Via a Motion – and an accompanying “Memorandum-Of-Law – that were filed yesterday in the case, one of Lauren’s attorneys, Hector J. Diaz, has asked Judge Garaufis to allow her to have a separate trial from Raniere and Mack.
In making this request, Diaz noted that the only defendants who have been charged with sex trafficking crimes are Raniere and Mack.
Diaz also claimed that “A joint trial with Raniere and Mack—the only defendants alleged to have engaged in sex trafficking offenses—would unfairly prejudice Lauren and ‘prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment’ as to her guilt or innocence simply because of her alleged association with Raniere and Mack”.
Indeed, Diaz goes on to point out that “A severance from co-defendants Raniere and Mack would ensure that Lauren receives an unbiased and fair trial by a jury of her peers who are not confused or tainted by the allegations of sex trafficking levied against her co-defendants”, Raniere and Mack.
Some of the other arguments that Diaz makes on Laurens’s behalf are as follows:
• Although DOS was established sometime in 2015, Lauren did not join until January 2017 – and was only in it for about 4½ months;
• The government alleges that Raniere and Mack engaged in the alleged sex trafficking of Jane Doe 5, Jane Doe 8, and lower ranking DOS members beginning in or about February 2016 – almost one full-year before Lauren had even joined DOS;
• The government “…has not alleged that Lauren engaged in Sex Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, or Attempted Sex Trafficking, (sic) nor has the government provided any discovery implicating Lauren in these alleged offenses”;
• Lauren has been grouped together in an indictment – and a prospective trial – “…that will likely involve considerable evidence and testimony to support the government’s sex trafficking allegations”; and
• There is “there is a serious risk that Lauren will not receive a fair trial or impartial verdict if she is jointly tried with Raniere and Mack”.
So, what exactly is going on here, you ask – and why is Lauren asking that she be tried separately from Raniere and Mack?
The simple, on-its-face explanation is that Lauren’s attorneys are afraid that their client is going to be prejudiced if she’s tried with Raniere and Mack.
But if that’s true, then the same can be said for Nancy Salzman, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.
So, are we headed to two trials here: i.e., one for Raniere and Mack – and another for Clare, Kathy, and Lauren (If Nancy has not cut a deal, then she’d be part of this latter group)?
Or maybe four trials: i.e., one for Raniere and Mack – and then separate trials for Clare, Kathy, and Lauren (If Nancy has not cut a deal, then, per this scenario, she would also have a separate trial)?
Although possible, those outcomes – and all the ones in between – are unlikely.
Instead, I think what’s going on is that Lauren is in the process of cutting her own plea bargain deal.
But, in order to get the kind of reduced sentence that she’s looking for, she’s going to have to become a “Star Witness” for the prosecution.
To set up that arrangement, I think the prosecution is not going to fight – or fight very little – in opposition to her motion for a separate trial.
But, just to be sure she follows through on what the testimony she’s agreed to provide, her trial will be scheduled after the main trial.
If she does as promised, then she’ll get the plea deal that she wants.
If not, she will get fully prosecuted – and receive the maximum possible sentence when she’s convicted.
Of course, I could be all wrong about this – and these new filings may simply be Lauren’s attempt to avoid getting splashed with the Raniere/Mack sleaze factor.
But I think we have misidentified what Lauren’s proboscis is all about: she’s not a bird, she’s a shark!