NXIVM President Nancy Salzman AKA Prefect is the first to take a plea deal in the case against Nxivm
She is scheduled to plead guilty to an undisclosed crime or crimes tomorrow in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
Regardless of whether her plea deal includes any type of formal agreement that requires her to testify against her co-defendants – Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman, and Kathy Russell – she will most definitely be called as a witness by the prosecution.
Having already pled guilty, Nancy will not be able to avoid answering questions from the prosecution. And if she tries to, she may end up like Paul Mannafort – and her plea deal revoked.
This might help explain why Nancy averted her eyes and turned her head away when Keith Raniere looked at her in court on February 28th. It may also explain why Nancy and her daughter, Lauren, avoided contact with each other outside the courtroom – and why Nancy went the opposite direction from her daughter when leaving the courthouse without even speaking to each other.
Turns out all that time that Lauren spent with Nancy over the past few months may not have tightened the mother-daughter connection after all.
Salzman, 63, will be the first person convicted in the case.
The big question – which may not be answered for some time – is whether she will get prison time.
How good was the plea deal?
Chances are she will not be sentenced until after the trial and if she cooperates with the prosecution, verifies the authenticity of evidence the feds have already gathered, turns over any other evidence she may have control of, and testifies against Raniere and her other co-defendants – which might include her daughter, Lauren – the prosecution may argue for a lighter sentence before Judge Garaufis.
That’s a powerful incentive.
And why should she not testify against her own daughter? After all, she turned both her daughters over to Raniere when they were barely of age.
Overall, this is a terrible turn of events for Raniere and Clare Bronfman.
It was not unexpected. As far back as September, Frank Report reported that Salzman was considering a plea deal. It was back then that prosecutor Moira Penza said Nancy Salzman was “continuing to engage in plea negotiations” with the government.
Salzman’s attorney, Robert Soloway, didn’t deny Salzman was speaking with prosecutors back then but told the New York Post today that she wouldn’t necessarily be cooperating against her co-defendants as part of her plea.
“There is not a cooperation agreement on the table,” he told The Post.
This is not exactly forthright. There may not be a written cooperation agreement, but let’s be candid – by the very nature of plea deals, it will almost certainly contain a range of sentencing and the outcome of sentencing will be impacted by whether prosecutors argue for or against leniency – based on her cooperation and admission of wrongdoing- i.e. taking responsibility for her actions.
To fulfill the responsibility piece – which can shave off years of prison – she has to tell all she knows.
So while there may be no “cooperation agreement”, Nancy will nonetheless testify – and, if she wants a reduced sentence, she will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Or did her attorney get a preview of the soon-to-be-issued superseding indictment – and warn her to take a deal now?
[I know of another case where attorneys told the media there is no “cooperation agreement”, which was true. Nevertheless, the man who pleaded guilty was expected to be the surprise star witness in the case against another defendant. The defense attorneys did not lie when they said there was “no cooperation agreement” because there was nothing signed. The Feds even wanted this out there so that the defendant did not know what was going to hit him. Meantime, everyone understood that the man who took the plea was going to cooperate. It was implicit in the entire plea deal.]
It’s hard to pinpoint what pushed Nancy over the edge – and convinced her to plead guilty.
What might also be influencing Salzman to take a plea deal is her precarious health. She had breast cancer and recently underwent a radical mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
As part of her plea deal, the government might have agreed not to indict her other daughter, Michelle Salzman Myers, and her husband, Nxivm’s computer hacker, Ben Myers.
It could be the upcoming superseding indictment which might have piled more charges on her, may have triggered her decision to take a plea.
It may be possible that Nancy may have finally awakened and realized that Keith Raniere was a total fink, and criminal.
When we see what she pleads to, we will know how much cooperation to expect and how valuable the Feds think her testimony will be.
We will also know if what she pleads to carries a sentencing range whereby she is very likely, or less likely to go to prison or can expect even a suspended sentence – based on cooperation.
Don’t be fooled by Soloway saying there is no [written] cooperation agreement.
Tomorrow will tell: The lighter the deal, the greater the cooperation – that is a safe bet on this one.