Here is the court order: “The sentencing hearing for Kathy Russell will be held on January 29, 2020 at 11:00 AM in Courtroom 4D South. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 9/27/2019.”
So our hapless friend, Kathy Russell, 61, the erstwhile ballerina and Nxivm bookkeeper, is going to learn her fate at the end of January.
She is the second one to have a sentencing date set. The first was Clare Webb Bronfman who will be sentenced on January 8th.
Ah, Kathy Russell.
She could have avoided all this had she simply accepted the prosecutor’s invitation to turn state’s evidence against her Vanguard back in 2018.
Instead, listening to her Clare Bronfman paid attorney, William Funciullo, she chose to go into the grand jury without an immunity agreement and she blew it – sometimes taking the 5th and sometimes answering stupidly – and wound up giving incriminating statements against herself.
Russell was indicted on July 23, 2018.
On Good Friday, April 19, 2019, Russell, pleaded guilty and ended the prosecution of her in the case of U.S. v. Raniere Et Al.
None of it had to happen.
But at least she replaced the inept and/or conflicted Funciullo and retained Justine Harris and Amanda Ravich, who seemed to be looking out for her and not Bronfman.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis presided at her guilty plea hearing. Russell accepted a plea deal but did not condemn Raniere in her allocution.
Of all the Nxivm defendants, Russell got off with the lightest plea deal. She was charged with one count of visa fraud.
Here is how her crime was described in court:
“In or about and between February 2014 and March 2015… in the Northern District of New York and elsewhere, the defendant, Kathy Russell, together with others, did knowingly and intentionally present an application, affidavit, and other document required by the immigration laws and regulations prescribed thereunder which contain one or more false statements with respect to one or more material facts, and which fails to contain any reasonable basis in law and fact, to wit: The defendant caused to be submitted to the United States Consulate an offer of employment that the defendant knew to contain materially false and fraudulent statements, which offer of employment was submitted in support of a visa application for another individual.”
Between February 2014 and March 2015, Russell knowingly presented documents to the United States Consulate in Mexico in connection with a NAFTA TN visa application for Loreta Garza – a high ranking Nxivm member – including an employment letter that contained false statements.
Russell – always a willing stooge for Raniere – presented documents to the U.S. Consulate, including a letter dated February 15th, 2014, which contained statements regarding the visa applicant’s job description and salary that were false.
Garza’s claimed salary was not true. Russell and Clare Bronfman inflated Garza’s salary on her visa application to ensure she was approved.
Once in the US, Garza was required to kickback a major portion of her salary.
In another lie, Russell represented that Garza was to be a management consultant for NXIVM, but Russell knew Garza was, in fact, working for a separate entity, Rainbow Cultural Gardens.
For visa fraud, the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years. There is no minimum term. The maximum supervised release term is three years. The maximum fine is $250,000. Restitution is in the full amount of each victim’s losses, as determined by the Court.
Garza probably lost about $100,000 – if her case is similar to Sylvie, who was also brought into the US illegally.
Russell is not likely to be able to pay any fine since she claims to be broke and unemployed. Maybe Clare who got her to where she is today will pay it for her.
Before the judge gives his sentence, he will review a report prepared by the Probation Department, which will calculate a particular guideline range.
The prosecution made a prediction in Russell’s plea agreement that her offense level would be a 10 – and that, because she has no previous criminal record, the range of incarceration would be 6 to 12 months in prison.
According to her plea agreement, Russell can appeal the judge’s sentence if it exceeds 18 months in jail, and she believes there is a legal or other error in his doing that.
On April 19, when she pleaded guilty, she also made her allocution.
Here is what Kathy said. It was brief.
“On or about February 2014, I knowingly and intentionally presented a document to the United States Consulate in Mexico that contained false statements, specifically in support of a TN visa for Loretta Garza Davila.
“I submitted the document that I knew contained materially false statements regarding Miss Garza’s job description and salary. This document, which I signed, described Miss Garza’s job title to be a management consultant at NXIVM Corporation and stated she would provide advice on strategic marketing needs of NXIVM. While Miss Garza did perform some of the duties described in the letter, she spent most of her time developing and running a separate company called Rainbow Cultural Gardens. I knew Miss Garza worked for Rainbow Cultural Gardens, but I submitted a letter on her behalf that intentionally omitted that fact.
“I also knew that Miss Garza was not keeping the full amount of the salary listed in that letter. The letter that I submitted was required to be filed by the immigration laws. I know what I did was wrong, and I’m very sorry for the trouble I have caused. I compromised my own principles and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
Too bad she did not say this simple statement back when she was called before the grand jury and when the DOJ was willing to let her say the same thing – and get completely off the hook.
Poor Kathy – she believed in Vanguard and in Clare Bronfman’s tender concern for her.
But she is a gullible soul.
For years, the wondrous faith Kathy had in her Vanguard was evidenced by the fact that she believed him when he said she could, even at age 60, become a world-class ballerina.
It was sad to some – and comical to others – to see her perform at the Saratoga Ballet company – a company comprised mainly of children between 5 and 13 years old – performing side by side with them – with an audience comprised of parents – most of them younger than Kathy – as she did pirouettes, tour en l’airs, and grande jetés – at age 59 – with 12 years olds.
But such was her belief in her Vanguard that she felt only joy and no awareness of how bizarre it was for an old lady to be performing with children.
At the trial, the jury learned a few unsavory things about Kathy. Such as her willingness to lie for Raniere – to rent homes in phony names for him to hide his sex slaves like Camila – and to whisk illegal aliens like Daniella – across the border using a fake ID. Kathy was also a very willing participant in threesomes with Vanguard – and with at least one unwilling young woman.
But it is what it is.
Still, one cannot help but feel a bit sad for the hapless and aging woman, who only wanted to be a ballerina and a worthy servant of the world’s smartest and most ethical man.
Viva Executive Success!