And so, we come to the close of another week of the “As NXIVM Turns” mini-drama.
And what a week it was.
It started with us giving a “shout out” to Clare Bronfman on her 40th birthday on Monday – and ended with a flurry of rulings from Magistrate Judge Scanlon on various issues concerning discovery materials.
And in between, we had one more defendant opt for a plea deal rather than a trial – and another continue to argue that all the charges against her should be dismissed because of “prosecutorial misconduct”.
So, let’s take a look at the major highlights from the past week…
Allison Mack Pleads Guilty
On March 29th, the attorneys for Allison Mack requested a 30-day postponement to the start of the trial so that they could continue negotiating a plea deal arrangement with the prosecutors.
That request was immediately denied by the presiding judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.
That must have sent a strong signal to Allison and her attorneys that play time was over – and that if they were going to accept a plea deal, they needed to do so quickly.
And so on Monday, April 8th, which was the scheduled date for the next Status Conference in the case, Allison Mack came before Judge Garaufis and pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20-years.
In addition, Mack also admitted to committing two of the predicate acts that had been cited for the Racketeering charge: State Law Extortion – and Forced Labor – with regard to Jane Doe 5 and Jane Doe 8.
Just like Lauren Salzman, who pleaded guilty to the same two counts, Mack entered into a “Cooperation Agreement” that will likely require her to testify fully and truthfully in this case – and any other cases involving the NXIVM criminal enterprise.
As might be expected from a former Hollywood actress, Mack’s allocution was fraught with sobbing and choked-back words.
Along the way, she noted that “I joined NXIVM first to find purpose…In the course of my time with NXIVM, I became close with many individuals, many of whom are wonderful people, and some of whom I now realize are not”.
But she also pointed to her downfall being caused by the leader of the BXIVM cult, Keith Raniere. “I believed that Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people, and that my adherence to his system of beliefs would help empower others and help them. I was wrong.
“My misguided beliefs and dedication of what I believed were the principles underlying NXIVM, Keith Raniere’s teachings, resulted in my agreeing to support the criminal enterprise that is alleged in the indictment”.
Roughly translated, Allison’s allocution amounted to a modern-day version of Flip Wilson’s Geraldine character explaining that “The Devil made me do it”.
We also provided a detailed analysis of Allison’s allocution that concluded it was basically a sham that was intended to allow her to blame Raniere for all her illegal activities. As noted in that post, “Before that, she thought she was doing good. To hear her tell it, her taking “full responsibility” is almost a gesture of nobility. She is taking full responsibility, not for criminality but for her mistaken belief in Keith”.
Allison’s guilty plea resulted in a flurry of worldwide coverage as the story of the NXIVM sex cult literally bounced around the globe.
Here are links to just a few of the ensuing reports and stories:
The Sun even ran a feature story about the video we featured showing Allison Mack singing a tear-filled song to Keith Raniere on his birthday.
But, as is true for most “breaking news” in the modern media era, the Allison Mack coverage only lasted for a couple of days.
And with Allison having now removed herself from the trial – except, of course, if she’s called as a witness by the prosecution – we expect to see a dramatic drop-off in media coverage.
Kathy Russell Battles On
This past week also saw Kathy Russell’s attorneys battling extremely hard to convince Judge Garaufis to grant their pending “Motion To Dismiss” all charges against Kathy.
Even though the judge pretty much told them during the course of the Status Conference that he was going to deny the motion, they kept filing new arguments to support their contention that the lead prosecutor, Moira Kim Penza, had “deliberately duped” Kathy and her then-counsel, William Fanciullo, into having her testify before the grand jury.
By the end of the week, the rhetoric got even testier as Kathy’s attorneys made the following claim to the court: “In its April 10 letter, the government simultaneously argues three inconsistent positions, namely: (1) that it does not object to the Court finding that Ms. Russell was a target, so long as the Court concludes that there is no remedy for the government’s misrepresentation; (2) that Ms. Russell was ‘not a target or a subject,’ but rather a witness; and (3) that even if Ms. Russell was a ‘
‘subject,’ any failure to advise her was ‘inadvertent’.”
We have yet to figure out why Kathy’s attorneys are fighting so hard on this issue since the prosecution has already agreed that it will not use any of Kathy’s grand jury testimony at the trial.
Do they really think they have a chance of getting Kathy’s indictment dismissed – and, if so, don’t they understand that she’ll likely be indicted if the Northern District of New York undertakes its own investigation – and prosecution – of NXIVM-related crimes?
Or is this the proverbial “last gasp” before Kathy agrees to take a plea deal?
It is expected that Judge Garaufis will either hold an evidentiary hearing on this matter – or rule on the pending motion – sometime next week.
Plea Deals Or Trial For Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman & Kathy Russell
We explored the likelihood that any of the three remaining defendants in the case would end up taking plea deals rather than go to trial.
At the end of that analysis, we set the following estimates as to how likely each of them is to take a plea deal:
• Kathy Russell: 99%
• Clare Bronfman: 60%
• Keith Raniere: 10%
Likely Prison Sentences For Nancy, Lauren & Allison
We ended the week by reviewing the transcripts from the plea hearings for Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Allison Mack – and estimating what their sentences would likely be.
Here are our estimates as to the prison terms they will each receive:
• Nancy Salzman: 24-30 months
• Lauren Salzman: 48-60 months
• Allison Mack: 48-60 months
We also noted that in addition to serving time in federal prison, all three would be subject to additional punishments – and various collateral consequences – as a result of their status as felons. Those additional punishments – and collateral consequences – will include, but not be limited to, the following:
• Up to 36 months of “Supervised Released” AKA Probation;
• A fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross profits of the NXIVM criminal enterprise, whichever is greater;
• Restitution in the amount of each victim’s losses as determined by Judge Garaufis;
• A $100 special assessment for each count they’ve pleaded guilty to;
• Criminal forfeiture;
• Loss of voting rights;
• Loss of the right to possess any firearm;
• Loss of the right to serve on a jury;
• Loss of the right to be employed – or licensed – in certain professions;
• Loss of eligibility for certain public benefits;
• Restrictions on adopting or becoming a foster parent; and
• Loss of the right to travel to certain countries.
Viva Executive Success!