Plea Deal or Trial? – What will Raniere, Bronfman and Russell do?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

Time is running out for the remaining three defendants in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al: Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.

With only a little more than two weeks to go before the scheduled start of the trial in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), what has so far been abstract and vague is becoming more and more real for them with each passing day.

Based on various reports, it appears that all three of them have explored the possibility of some sort of plea deal arrangement.

And each of them is well aware that three of their former co-defendants have already decided to plead guilty to specific charges rather than put their futures in the hands of twelve strangers.

So, will Keith, Clare and/or Kathy end up getting on the Plea Deal Bus?

Let’s explore the possibilities…

Attorney Justine Harris [l] and her client, Kathy Russell, outside the Brooklyn courthouse, April 8, 2019.
RE: Kathy Russell
Most courtroom observers – and every defense attorney I’ve spoken to about the case – have predicted that Kathy will end up taking a plea deal.

But, meanwhile, her attorneys continue to push for the dismissal of her indictment because of what they describe as “prosecutorial misconduct” on the part of Moira Kim Penza.

In a follow-up letter that they submitted following Monday’s Status Conference, her attorneys insist that Kathy and her erstwhile attorney, William Fanciullo, were “deliberately duped” by Moira into believing that Kathy was only a “witness” and not a “subject” or a “target” in the NXIVM investigation.

Even the presiding judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, has concluded that what Moira did was “misleading, at the very least”.

Earlier today, the judge issued the following tersely worded order:

ORDER: The Government is DIRECTED to respond to Kathy Russell’s April 9, 2019 letter in further support of her motion to dismiss by no later than tomorrow, April 11, 2019, at 9:00 A.M. The Government shall address the following questions: (1) whether Russell was a “subject” at the time of her grand jury testimony; (2) if she was a subject, why the Government did not advise her as such (either by attaching a letter to its grand jury subpoena or by telling her during her grand jury testimony); and (3) how its answers to questions (1) and (2) should affect the court’s decision on Russell’s motion to dismiss. The Government may also address any other point raised in Russell’s letter.

So, is Kathy holding out because she thinks she actually has a chance of winning on her pending Motion To Dismiss?

Maybe – but if so, she will most assuredly have that dim hope vaporized when Judge Garaufis finally rules on that motion later this week.

So, will Kathy then come to her senses – and instruct her attorneys to cut the best deal they can for her?

Not necessarily…

Even though she could likely get off with no more than a 2-3 year sentence via a plea deal, Kathy might well risk going to prison for 20 years.

Just like Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who emerged from hiding on Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1974, Kathy may be the last NXIVM soldier still fighting when the epic takedown of NXIVM is over.

Depending on how things transpire over the next couple of weeks, it’s even possible that Keith and Clare would be two of the many witnesses testifying against her if she decides to go to trial.

So sad…


Clare Bronfman [center] with her mother, Georgiana Havers, and attorney, Kathleen E. Cassidy.
RE: Clare Bronfman
Aside from temporarily hiring Michael Avenatti as a “consultant” to help broker a deal where she would get off with no prison time – an arrangement that caused her to faint when questioned about it by Judge Garaufis – Clare has not given any indication that she’s interested in taking a plea deal.

In large part, that’s probably because Clare is still trying to come to grips with the fact that for the first time in her life, she can’t use her money to get what she wants.

But with time running out – and looking at the very real prospect of ending up with a 20-year prison sentence – it’s still quite possible that she’ll change her mind before the trial starts.

Complicating matters for her is the fact that she’s already facing one additional charge in the Northern District of New York (NDNY) – and the very real possibility of many more charges if the NDNY ever undertakes a full-scale investigation of her involvement in NXIVM’s numerous criminal activities.

The EDNY cannot compel the NDNY not to prosecute Clare. But it can request that the EDNY be part of an agreement that would include a non-prosecution provision to ensure that Clare would not have to worry about that possibility.

The other complicating factor, of course, is that the EDNY is not going to let Clare off with a “rich girl” sentence.

Clare’s going to prison…

The only question is: For how long?

Opinions on this vary – but most defense attorneys I’ve talked to think it will be for at least 6 years.

I personally think it will be 8 years but that may be wishful thinking on my part.

In any event, Clare just turned 40 – and even an 8-year sentence would mean she’d be back on the street in about 6 years (That assumes she’s doesn’t lose any of the “good time” she’ll accrue in prison – and that she gets at least 6-months of Halfway House time).

All in all, I think that Clare will end up taking a deal simply because 6-8 years is a whole lot less than 20-years and, more importantly, because she can not stand the thought of sitting in court and hearing numerous witnesses – some of them her closest “friends” – taking the stand and testifying as to what an evil, mean-spirited, heartless bitch she really is.


Keith Alan Raniere

RE: Keith Raniere
And last, but certainly not least, we have The Vanguard AKA The Master AKA The Grandmaster AKA Crybaby Jane.

We’ve already reported that Keith met with the EDNY prosecutors to offer them a deal whereby he would provide information about certain crimes committed by others in return for them dropping all the pending charges against him.

They’re still laughing in the EDNY prosecutor’s office over that offer.

So, is there any chance that Keith will end up taking a plea deal?

Every criminal defense attorney I’ve spoken to has indicated that if they were representing him, they would be advising him to do just that.

That’s because they see no chance of him ever being acquitted on all the charges he’s currently facing.

Unlike Kathy, who is only facing one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and unlike Clare, who is only facing one count of Racketeering Conspiracy and one count of Racketeering – Keith is facing a whole host of charges in the EDNY.

Here’s the complete list:
– Racketeering Conspiracy
– Racketeering
– Forced Labor Conspiracy
– Wire Fraud Conspiracy
– Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
– Sex Trafficking
– Attempted Sex Trafficking Conspiracy

And Keith is already facing four more charges in the NDNY: two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child; one count of Possession of Child Pornography; and one count of Conspiracy To Commit Identity Theft.

So, what kind of a plea deal might the EDNY offer Keith?

Based on discussions with attorneys who are familiar with this case, the consensus seems to be that he would have to admit to all the pending charges – and agree to a sentence of at least 10-15 years.

And if he wants the deal to include a non-prosecution agreement with the NDNY, the consensus is that the minimum sentence will be 15-20 years.

Once again, I think the upper boundaries on those ranges are more likely – especially given the likelihood that Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack have already agreed to testify against him.

So, will Keith take a plea deal that would ensure he’d be incarcerated for 15-20 years?

I personally don’t think so.

Even though going to trial means that he’s risking a lifetime sentence – and even though I think he has zero chance of being acquitted on all charges – I think Keith is going to go to trial.

Here’s why…

First and foremost, no matter where he is or who he’s with, he still thinks he’s the smartest – and most clever – person in the room. All he needs to do is convince one juror that he should be acquitted to get a hung jury. And just look at all the crap he convinced people in NXIVM to do on his behalf.

Second, he’s a gambler. Granted, he’s a shitty gambler with little, if any, understanding of what “true probability” means – but he likes to gamble. And going to trial will be the biggest gamble of his life.

Third, he’s The Vanguard. In his mind, he’d be better off going to trial and losing than admitting he’s a loser. True spiritual leaders like Gandhi and Mandela suffer for their beliefs. And I think that after all these years of lying and pretending, Keith really does believe his own bullshit.

Fourth, Keith has already spent more than a year in prison – and, if nothing else, he’s undoubtedly figured out that he doesn’t do well in that kind of environment. So, while a 15-year prison term is not easy for anyone, it will be even worse for Keith. He doesn’t fit in, he’s a sissy, and his entire story will be well-known by every guard and prisoner in whatever prison he’s assigned to. Every day – and every night – will be a living hell. So, in the end, I think Keith will risk doing 30 instead of 15 just to have a chance of doing 0.


With all that in mind, here are my odds regarding which of the three remaining defendants will take a plea deal:
• Kathy Russell: 99%

• Clare Bronfman: 60%

• Keith Raniere: 10%

Viva Executive Success!


Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the three defendants who have already plead guilty – Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Allison Mack – and share my thoughts on what their respective sentences will likely be…

About the author

K.R. Claviger


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  • Kathy is just part of the hoi polloi of this. She was sorting gardens whilst being watched by “royalty” looking on scorning her according to this blog and those people have since pleaded guilty. Ballet dancers have the “strongest” cores. Kathy you need to understand that core is your best interests.

  • Fight Keith! Fight!! Don’t you dare take a plea deal!! You only need one juror! Just ONE! You can do this Keith!! You may know you are not the smartest man in the world, but you are the best manipulator and bull shitter in the world! You have that going for you. So summon up every last bit of manipulating energy that you have and FIGHT!!

  • I agree particularly as regards Raniere. I also think his other strategic consideration, is that he is most likely to hold on to some of his following if he goes down fighting, rather than appearing to concede guilt. In prison he could play the martyred leader, retaining some reverence and even his position, in the model of the Moonies’ Rev. Moon or Charles Manson; and then he will likely someday get out of prison as an old man, and will need a few remaining loyalists take care of him again on the outside.

    I still think that Bronfman is almost certain to fight on, believing that ultimately her money will buy enough lawyering to force the best possible outcome, either an acquittal or dismissal, possibly on appeal, or else wearing even the feds down the point where she finally gets a plea deal that is little more than a slap on the wrist, far down the road when the media and the public are no longer paying attention. I would not be surprised if the bootlegger’s granddaughter doesn’t hire people to arrange for some real mob-style dirty tricks like jury tampering; even when uncovered, the resulting mistrials play into the strategy of delay and complexification.

    • I think you’re right Anonymaker. Clare will do just that. And I think you’re right about Keith too. His ego won’t let him take a plea deal. What’s 15-20 years compared to 20-30 years? It’s all a looooong ass time. Kathy will take a plea as soon as she’s told there will be no acquittal. Clare and Keith both have their reasons to go to trial, and I think they will.

  • Kathy will do just fine in prison. She gets naughty thrills from submission & self-sacrifice for her master. Let her go, she’s playing her own sick game. It’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to her after all.

  • How ironic that Raniere will be in prison when finally, after nearly a generation, hairy asses are coming back into fashion. Tee hee. That alone could fasten his mind upon suicide, but perhaps he will console himself with the rationale that he was ahead of the times. Bushido code. Or in his case, Bush-I-Do. No Bush I don’t. Even Hugh Hefner managed his harems better.

  • 3 predictions:

    1. Krclaviger is right Vanguard probably believes his own Bullshit now and is not taking any plea deal .

    2. Kathy Russell’s should make a plea deal immediately. The prosecution knows they have a 50-50 chance with the judge and or a appellate court. The prosecution is bound to be generous right now because of the odds. I bet Kathy wrestles gonna take a plea and that would be announced tomorrow.

    3. Clare Bronfman is going to end up shooting herself in the foot because refuses to accept any plea deal that contains prison time. Poor Claire probably could’ve gotten a plea deal and gotten six months now she is looking at over a year at least.

    Anyone want to make some friendly wagers?

    Krclaviger, as always thanks for the. excellent reporting!

    • Nice Guy
      I’d bet you that Rainiere takes a deal. The risk of life imprisonment given the amount of evidence coming from multiple sources. 15 years is a serious sentence that signals victory for the prosecution and would let Rainiere out around his 70th birthday.

      • Anonymous,

        Bet accepted!!!!
        I believe Raniere will not get less than 20 years.

        If Keith Raniere receives a sentence of less than 20 years I will be appalled and dumbstruck.

        Keith Raniere’s overall total crimes are on par with a capital case in my opinion.

  • If I’m Keith Rainere I would admit to my mistakes and humbly request a deal.

    Life is much easier telling the truth.

    • LOL. If you’re Keith Raniere, you’d be teaching exactly that. But you’d simultaneously be lying through your teeth as you continue to “lose the amount of options” you have in life. That’s why Keith is rock bottom – in a corner – with attrocious options – with a tiny self esteem – alone except for Bubba hanging off his back-end.

  • Maybe I’m wrong but with Kathy it sounds a bit like “fruit of the poisonous tree”. I wouldn’t be surprised if charges were withdrawn.

    I’m pretty certain both Clair and her co-defendent will move to shut down Frank Report. Given that Claire is reportedly litigating against Frank, she has grounds to argue that the discussions like the one above from a respondent, are harmful and militate against balanced reporting, and unduly influence public opinion.

    After all, Frank Report is followed by many major newspapers globally.

    • The problem is there’s this little thing called the First Amendment. With 3 people already pleading guilty to what Frank has been reporting for years, it is factual, not “balanced” reporting that matters. Influencing public opinion that NXIVM is a criminal enterprise is a publice service, not “unduly” in any way.

    • When one assesses the prosecution’s conduct toward Russell, many agree the EDNY egregiously misled her. If they had they been truthful, she likely would not have been in the situation she is in now. I imagine she would have taken a deal much earlier.

      Dropping the charges seems appropriate in the circumstances. After all, she is a simple secretary, not the brains and guiding force of the evil empire!

  • Keith Raniere has too big of an EGO to stand before a Judge and admit any guilt for any of his crimes.

    He’d rather walk around a prison carrying the wooden cross of “how he’s been wronged” than admit he’s a criminal

    He’d rather make himself a victim of the justice system than admit that he was the perpetrator of crimes. Remember, when taking a plea, he has to stand before the Judge and admit he is guilty. He has to explain why he is guilty, and what he did that makes him guilty.

    Keith Raniere is a pussy; he doesn’t have the balls to admit he is wrong, admit that his a criminal or he’s done evil behaviors.

    He rode the wave of his criminal life as long as he could. Now, he has nowhere to go, no one left to support him, no one to make things just appear. He’s TOXIC and anyone who would follow this man after what has been exposed about him deserves what happens to them.

    The internet is a reality and no one ever has an excuse of ever saying they didn’t know what kind of man Keith Raniere was ever again.

    Since the early 2000’s Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack could have done a Goggle search on Keith A. Raniere and found out what kind of man he was. It wasn’t because there was a lack of information, It’s because they really did not want to KNOW.

  • Fire Sale! Fire Sale! Fire Sale!
    Used Cult for Sale!
    Bargain Basement Price!
    Buy for Pesos on the Dollar!
    Probably needs new name.
    Suggested Name: MEXIUM
    Albany, New York listing
    Contact Legatus Pro Temp Nicki Clyne or whatever name she is using today, Yolanda Cortez or Pea Onyu.

    NXIVM is dead. Long Live MEXIUM!

    Joking aside, only six NXIVM leaders were indicted.
    The Frank Report has listed around 150 people who are leaders of NXIVM.
    That leaves 144 potential leaders for MEXIUM.
    And while the government prohibits convicted felons from associating with other convicted felons for a time after release, there is nothing that would prevent Raniere’s co-defendants, when they are released, from hooking up with other ex-members of NXIVM who would be unindicted, unconvicted members of the new self-help- organization MEXIUM.

    NXIVM is dead. Long Live MEXIUM!

    • One hitch in your idea. The remaining members are followers, mindless followers. Without there leader they are hopeless drones. Who would be capable of actually having a thought and be able to lead the remaining sheepole?

      • Gin is correct with his hitch. But there are many other hitches. NXIVM is dead untill Keith sees the light of day. Then and only then would something (other than pitiful) happen.
        Mexium is funny. That personality is trying to ooze out, buddy!

      • “The remaining members are followers, mindless followers”

        NXIVM will be replaced by MEXIUM a cult run by more disciplined Mexican businessmen controlling some kind of American front person.
        The Bronfmans and Salzmans are gone as is Raniere.
        My posting earlier this week discussed how the Mexican elite engineered the swift downfall of Raniere, Mack, the Bronfmans and Salzmans.

        Shadow: Is Nicki Clyne very dumb or very devious?

  • So Keith, who claims no disintegrations, is a dirty rat willing to snitch on everyone else to save his hairy ass.
    So much for ethics!😉

  • Keith is the smartest man in the world. He should be representing himself! That would be a laugh and a half

  • “Raniere still thinks he’s the smartest – and most clever – person in the room.”

    I don’t think he believes this. He can make many others believe it, but he KNOWS this is bullshit.

    He knows he only had a 2.40 GPA
    He knows he had help on the take home IQ test.
    He knows his mind can’t set off radar detectors.
    He knows he lost millions in the market.
    He knows he didn’t read at 1 year old and teach himself Algebra in a day.

    What he does know is that he is good at is manipulating others. Making them believe he is brilliant, a judo champ, a track star, a concert pianist, etc.

    Considering what he KNOWS about his own life…if he really does still think he’s smart—then he’s the dumbest person in the room.

    • Lalalad: you are right. He knows he’s a fraud. He is good at manipulating others. That’s all he’s good at. He had everyone fooled. But, can he admit to his crimes and take a plea? I don’t think so. He may know he’s a fraud and not the smartest man in the world, but his ego is way too big. I think he’ll go down as a martyr in his mind. Admitting to all of his mistakes is just something a narcissist won’t do.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


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