Will Raniere actually go to trial?

Keith Raniere

How ironic that the man who sought to have so much control over so many women has been abandoned by all of his female co-defendants?

Nancy Salzman

The first to get a seat on the Plea Deal Bus was Nancy Salzman, the woman who was the public face of the NXIVM/ESP criminal enterprise – and who stood aside as Raniere added her two young daughters to his harem. She pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.


Lauren Salzman 

Next to get a seat was Lauren Salzman, who had been promised an avatar baby by Raniere but, instead, ended up with just his initials burned into the flesh of her pubic area. She pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.


Allison Mack

Then came Allison Mack, the woman that Raniere put in charge of Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS), the most deviant component of his evil empire. She also pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.


Clare Bronfman


Kathy Russell

Next came the duo of Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell, two of Raniere’s most devoted and loyal followers. Clare pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy To Conceal And Harbor Illegal Aliens For Financial Gain and one count of Fraudulent Use Of Identification – and Kathy pleaded guilty to one count of Visa Fraud. Both are awaiting sentencing.


Keith Alan Raniere

Which leaves Raniere as the only one scheduled to go on trial on May 7th.

So, what will Raniere do?

Most courtroom observers – and every defense attorney that I asked about the case – believe that Raniere will also end up taking some sort of plea deal.

Each of them indicated that the odds of him being convicted are just too staggering for him to risk going to trial.

In addition to the mounds of documentary evidence that the prosecution is ready to present to the jury, there are numerous witnesses that are ready to take the stand and tell the world about Raniere’s criminality and depravity.

Those witnesses could include some or all of his former co-defendants: Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.

They also include a host of women he has had sexual relations with; including – it appears – at least one who he raped when she was 12 and 13 years old.

There will be DOS slaves who will testify they were coerced and threatened with the release of blackmail-worthy material he called collateral.

There will be likely Karen Unterreiner, his longest-serving harem member, who helped procure underage girls for him.

There will be Sarah Edmondson – who he deceived and likely Mark Vicente and a host of others who, although not members of his harem,  were victimized by him.

Many of his old followers – are prepared to testify against him rebutting his argument that he was a man who helped so many people as an ethicist and a genius teacher.

Even a lousy gambler like Raniere would logically decide to fold his hand – and take the best deal he can get from the prosecution.

So, what might such a deal look like?

Well, at this point, Raniere is facing the following charges in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) case:
• Racketeering Conspiracy

• Racketeering

• Forced Labor Conspiracy

• Wire Fraud Conspiracy

• Sex Trafficking Conspiracy

• Sex Trafficking

• Attempted Sex Trafficking

In addition to those charges, Raniere could easily be facing at least four other charges in the Northern District of New York (NDNY):
• Sexual Exploitation Of A Child

• Sexual Exploitation Of A Child

• Possession Of Child Pornography

• Conspiracy To Commit Identity Theft


So, given the likelihood that he will be convicted on all the charges he is facing in the EDNY – and on at least four more charges if the NDNY decides to finally do something about his reign of criminality in their backyard – what’s the best deal that he’ll be offered?

I think there are two possibilities.

If he wants to just resolve the EDNY charges, in my opinion, the prosecution will likely agree to a deal that includes a 15-year sentence.

But if he wants to also avoid the possibility of any charges in the NDNY – including the four that are listed above – then I think the prosecution will insist that he agree to a 20-year sentence.

The game could change somewhat if the judge decides to toss out the evidence of the photographs of the then-15-year-old Mexican girl, who was identified as Jane Doe 2 in the second superseding indictment.

In my opinion, that could see a potential deal that included any potential NDNY charges — and that capped his sentence at 15 years.

With time off for good behavior, and with credit for the year he has already served, Raniere could be out in about 12 years – when he is 70.

However, I have my doubts about him ever getting out.

Even if he takes a plea deal.

That’s because I don’t think The Vanguard is capable of serving very much time in federal prison.


Which is why I still think that despite all the reasons not to do so, Keith will end up going to trial – and will even take the stand in his own defense.

Looked at from his perspective, he is now painfully aware that he doesn’t do well in prison.

That’s especially true when he’s put in general population – which is likely where’ll be placed for most, if not all, of his sentence (Because of the length of his sentence, he’ll automatically be in a maximum security prison – since any sentence over 10 years requires one to be assigned to maximum security).

So, if he thinks he may not survive whatever sentence he’s offered via a plea deal, then why wouldn’t he take a chance and go to trial?

Even if he gets convicted on all of the charges against him, he probably won’t get a sentence of more than 30 years.

If, as I believe, Keith knows that he can’t survive 15 or 20 years in prison, then a 30-year sentence is not much of a threat.


Another major consideration for Keith is the fact that if he takes a plea deal, he will be required to publicly admit his guilt before U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

No equivocating…no word-salad explanations…no pointing fingers at others.

Can Raniere do that?

Real martyrs never forsake their principles.

Real heroes fight until they can no longer fight.

Real Vanguards never abandon their followers.

Is Keith Raniere real?

We’ll soon find out…


“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others” – Groucho Marx

About the author

K.R. Claviger


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  • The end is near and what a long haul getting here it’s been. Since it’s Game of Thrones season I think this clip is fitting, and a fun reminder that the little guy, the underdog, can be more powerful than one would think.

    Arya spars with Brienne –

    • Yolanda,
      I would advise your friend Keith to demonstrate for once in his life some sense of humility and limitations.
      He is not the world’s third smartest man.
      He might very well be the world’s third dumbest man.

      Keith had a bevy of women who would service him.
      Consenting adult women.
      And he still chose to pursue underage girls and record the transactions on video.
      Even my 18 year old nephews know to avoid “Jail Bait.”

  • Well, judging from the recent photo of Moira Penza, in which she was absolutely radiant, I would guess that seeing her would be a big plus about having days in court.

    I would say it is quite possible that each day in court, each opportunity to behold and rememorize her, could be a treasure to some which you or I could never understand.

    Now imagine her 40 pounds lighter, chronically delirious, and with a giant bushy thatch and you’re really getting the concept here.

  • Thanks Krclaviger as always!!!!!!

    I think anything less than 15 years would be a travesty of Justice.

    My personal belief is that the DOJ will take nothing less than 20 years. Raniere is an extremely rare type of criminal defendant seldom are cult leaders successfully arrested alive and prosecuted successfully. Raniere is like a criminal Unicorn.

    Prosecuting Raniere is a huge feather in the caps of the DA , and the FBI and the DOJ leadership. Prosecuting Raniere is a career capstone!!!!

    Therefore I believe the DOJ will not take less than 20 years.

    • Yolanda,
      I would advise Raniere to cut a deal and maybe get the child porn charges dropped.
      Life would go easier for him in prison if there were no pedophilia or child porn charges.
      Perhaps he could get his sentence dropped to ten years.

      Moreover, I have talked to many people who have served on juries and they regard it as a tremendous imposition on their lives.
      Even if they are retired they would rather stay home and enjoy the summer weather.

      When the charges are overwhelming it is better just to bite the bullet and look forward to the possibility of being free again someday.

      If Raniere had stayed away from the branding and blackmail activities, he might still be in charge of NXIVM.
      For once in Raniere’s life he should show some humility and concern for others.

      • but how much kindness and compassion for the real monster in this whole story, while when you refer to allison what you do is throw it into a hole and try to bury it, meanwhile show your friendly face with the real monster, WELL DONE shadow .

      • Shadowstate1958: One day Yolanda will give you a taste of poetic artistic justice. The power of our Lord is far greater than anything you could dream of in your feeble mind. You should bite your tongue and perhaps our master will show you mercy. Keith is just playing with the justice system. He has calculated every conceivable outcome and is waiting to make his move.

    • Because his arrogance compels him. Answer this though. What if he doesn’t go to trial and takes a plea? What then? Is he an instant loser – like the other women who did? Or would you justify that he’s just trying to do the smartest thing?

  • He’ll go to trial as a Hail Mary pass and will then take his life after he receives his sentence. Are there safeguards against this? Can he be put on immediate suicide watch all the way until he’s comfortably in prison? How easy is it to off oneself in prison?

  • Yes. He’s too arrogant not to.Taking a plea will require him to admit his guilt. The bigger the narcissist, the less likely this will happen, and VanDouche appears to be as big of one as they come.

  • Me thinks he is going to trial following the advice of his lawyer; because his lawyer actually wants him put in jail.

  • Better pack my bags, looks like the “aye’s” have it so far — Jarhead makes an exceptionally good argument; KAR’s deep, deep seeded ‘delusions of grandeur’ could override even the probable preference of the PRI party Mexican elite crime cartels and their paid political puppetry here in the U.S. to avoid any trial in any district.

    Looks like Vanguard’s goin’ to trial. …Unless the Nuestras or MK’s get him at MDC first — which would be my personal preference in the interests of my own self-preservation… But they’ve already had over a year to get rid of him with only minimal success.

    Frank and Clav make good points there, too — that KAR must know he can’t hack prison much longer and may take the gamble for his life.

    I’ll just bill Clare for my airfare in her countersuit if y’all are wrong and there’s no trial.

  • It seems to me that the entire gospel of Raniere is that women are prone to self destructive behaviors and “disintegrations”. All of these women who took pleas and turned against him, may in Raniere’s egomaniacal mind, only prove that he was right after all!

    I guess it depends on how much of his own bullshit he actually believes. In his own mind, does he believe that he is this godlike person? Or now that he has been exposed, will he fold like a lawn chair and be the total wuss that everyone knows him to be? I tend to think that most narcissists keep that belief to the bitter end.

    • I think you’re right to consider Raniere as a narcissist functionally, if not actually as a psychological diagnosis, and that’s a factor suggesting he will indeed maintain his behavioral facade until the end.

      I’ve followed and studied a number of groups and their leaders, as well as financial cons like Ponzi schemes. It usually seems hard to tell whether or not the leader actually believes what he’s teaching, or has some hidden belief (Raniere might think he’s really fighting the Illuminati) or other agenda, but regardless, it seems as if they typically act as if they do, and that predicts their actions fairly well.

      I also find in interesting that Raniere is reportedly a gambler – and lost so much of the Bronfman’s money on commodities. Perpetrators of financial cons seem to get enmeshed in the gambler mentality, and actually believe that somehow if they can just keep it going a bit longer they are going to have a run of luck, make up their losses and actually have enough money to pay back everyone they owe, coming out not only unscathed but maybe even lauded. If Raniere is stuck in that sort of unrealistic thinking, it would be another factor pushing him to take his chances in court.

    • Tend to agree with Jarhead. It would feed his ego if his case goes to trial. Guess we’ll just have to wait an see. Yet, for the sake of those he wronged, it sure may help for some closure see him go down in flames in court.

      Would be curious to know who is still paying for Keith’s legal fees.

  • Keith Raniere is never going to get a good enough deal from the DOJ for him to take a deal.

    At best he get 20 years from them and since his attorneys were such babies about charges being moved to the NDNY, he’d still have to face those charges after a plea.

    That being said, Raniere will go “One more round of torture’.

    He will put ever last victim of his through having to testify at trial and sit back and enjoy their pain.

    He will enjoy watching them tell their stories of what he was able to do to them and get them to do for him.

    He will enjoy his legal team attempting to torture them on the witness stand to plant seeds of doubt into the jury’s mind.

    • I think you are absolutely right. It’s one last “stab from hell’s heart” to make those women testify and squirm.

  • I am still waiting for his malpractice suit against his own attorneys, no matter which way he goes at this point.

  • I think that trying to defend himself at trial, is the only way for Raniere to maintain his ego and his following.

  • If Keith knows he’s going to prison anyway, would he like to go to trial just to get back at his enemies like Frank and Sarah and Catherine. What would he care about a little perjury charge at that point anyway. What would prevent him from taking the stand and saying that Frank knew that he was having sex with the 15 year old and that Frank encouraged him to exploit Allison Mack and the other actresses, that he slept with Sarah E and she made fun of how stupid and gullible her acting “friends” were and how he also slept with Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter at the same time and that India molested the children when she worked at Rainbow.

  • Everything I have seen about Raniere suggests he will avoid judgement at all costs.

    This man has lived his life casting himself as an idealist and a visionary. A guilty plea invalidates that constructed identity in an irrevocable manner he could never accept.

    Consider how he never paid the judgements made against him for Consumer’s Buyline and the way he constructed his assets. Everything was kept in someone else’s name for a reason, and it’s not financial. It’s his contempt for anyone or anything that challenges the authenticity of his world view, he flees the consequences of his actions because of a deep seated belief they are the result of outside suppressive forces. This is someone who has been living for decades in his own story, where he’s the hero being put upon by backwards thugs that can’t understand the grand plan. That person doesn’t accept fault and apologize for anything, that person just constructs a new narrative to explain why everything but him is bad.

    Consider the social structures he put in place around him to enforce a hierarchy where he is on top. Aside from the boisterous claims of excellence and reincarnation mythos he established at the upper echelons, NXIVM’s DNA is centered around financial domination of adherents. This isn’t someone spreading the good word, this is someone who finds validation in the sacrifices of others. This is proven by the way he incentivizes believers to do it to each other, nothing speaks louder to one’s true beliefs than leading by example. That person doesn’t apologize for anything, that person takes other’s participation as validation of his ideas and self. Those sacrifices are more true than some abstract judgement from disinterested parties, precisely because it’s something that came from him.

    Consider the attacks made on those who sought to leave NXIVM, the concept of the suppressive, and the lengths his organization went to in order to attack journalists. These aren’t the actions of someone who hears criticism and dismisses it, these are the actions of someone profoundly affected by disagreement and unable to accept ideas that do not harmonize with his own. Like any true sociopath, his need to act overwhelms any sense of pragmatism and compels him to behaviors that harm others and, ultimately, himself. Look at what the other defendants are being charged with – it’s not for corrupting the justice system, it’s not for harassing people looking to leave the group, it’s for financial and sexual crimes that are embarrassingly foolish. Raniere could have achieved the same / superior financial and ‘physical’ outcomes in a number of other ways that are not criminal. But that person acts in a manner that degrades and destroys those involved precisely because he’s compelled to do so, anything less diminishes the harmonious sacrifice he seeks in all adherents (to ultimately validate himself.)

    Plato drank the Hemlock instead of escaping because he did not want the state erasing all he had contributed to the culture. He was not content to be branded a criminal when he could live on as a martyr. Raniere is no Plato, nor is he someone who will let others rewrite his story to turn him into a monster.

    Raniere has a limited set of options for what to do next. We’re not privileged to any discussions that may be continuing between him and NXIVM hard-liners or those outside the US. A lot of what he does depends on whether or not he still has a network in place to support him. Here are the potential outcomes.

    – Raniere will hang himself in his cell before sentencing, avoiding judgement

    – Raniere will be killed by someone else in prison before sentencing, avoiding judgement

    – Raniere will plead out in exchange for a more lenient sentence, receiving judgement and a shorter sentence

    – Raniere will go to trial and have his friends testify against him in open court, receiving judgement and a longer sentence

    – Raniere’s super lawyers find a way to get the charges dismissed and he walks

    Of those outcomes, what sounds like the most likely for the person described above? I don’t see any upside for him in going to jail, decades of his life are wiped away in the eyes of everyone who matters. I can’t see the value in having his closest allies testify to the things he’s done because making it all public destroys any credibility he ever had. I can’t really see him taking a deal to save his own neck, mostly because there’s not much waiting for him on the other side.

    Then again, I don’t know what else is going on with his Cult. Maybe Gillibrand wins the presidency and pardons him as her first act. Who knows?

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
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com