Sometime in the very near future, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis is going to issue an order that sets the sentencing date for Allison Mack.
He’s already done that for Clare Bronfman (January 8th), Keith Raniere (January 17th), and Kathy Russell (January 29th) – and will soon be doing the same for Nancy and Lauren Salzman (My guess is that he’ll schedule the mother-and-daughter criminal team to be sentenced on the same day).
So, it seems like an appropriate time to review the process which the judge will follow in determining Allison’s sentence – and explain what will actually happen on the day she gets sentenced.
Allison Mack’s Crimes – And Her Plea Deal
As set forth in the Second Superseding Indictment in the case, Allison was charged with the following crimes:
– Racketeering Conspiracy
– Forced Labor Conspiracy
– Wire Fraud Conspiracy
– Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
– Sex Trafficking (RE: Jane Doe #5)
– Attempted Sex Trafficking (RE: Jane Doe #8)
Rather than take her chances and go trial on those seven charges, the 36-year-old Mack opted to accept a plea deal.
During the course of her Plea Hearing on April 8, 2019, Allison made a number of admissions and statements. These included the following:
– She graduated from Los Alamitos High School (That puts her well ahead of her co-defendant, Clare Bronfman, who only finished 10th grade).
– She had one beer the night before her Plea Hearing – which sound a lot less elitist than the “one glass of wine” that Nancy Salzman and Lauren Salzman each said they had before their Plea Hearings.
– She committed Racketeering Act 10 – which involved state law extortion by collecting collateral from Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #8.
– She committed Racketeering Act 13 – which involved her accepting uncompensated labor and services from Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #8 who were afraid she would release their collateral if they did not provide free labor and services.
– She committed multiple acts of wire fraud by forcing lower-ranking members of DOS to turn over money, property and other things of value to her as collateral
During that same hearing, Judge Garaufis explained to her the applicable statutory penalties that would be applicable if she pleaded guilty to racketeering and Racketeering Conspiracy.
Those penalties are as follows:
– A maximum prison term of 20-years for each count;
– A maximum supervised release (AKA “probation”) term of 3-years for each count;
– A maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross profits or proceeds of the NXIVM enterprise;
– Restitution in the full amount of each victim’s losses as determined by the court;
– A $100 special assessment for each count; and
– Whatever criminal forfeiture was specified in her plea agreement.
During the course of her allocution, Allison said that she was “…prepared to take responsibility for acts in which I was involved, some of which I now realize were wrong”.
She also said that during her time with NXIVM, she “…became close with many individuals, many of whom are wonderful people, and some of whom I now realize are not”.
She went on to say that she now realized that she and others had engaged in criminal conduct – and that the goal of NXIVM was “…to further and promote the objectives of Keith Raniere”.
She also admitted that “At Raniere’s direction, I and other women sought to recruit other women to join DOS” – and that she knowingly took and withheld collateral from Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #9.
She stated that she had “…concealed Keith’s role as the head of DOS and characterized DOS as a women’s only organization, knowing that Keith Raniere was the head of the organization”.
She finished up with an impassioned apology.
“I am very sorry for the victims of this case. I am also very sorry for the harm that I caused to my family. They are good people who I have hurt through my misguided adherence to Keith Raniere’s teachings. I apologize to them from the bottom of my heart, and I am truly very sorry for what I have done. Through this plea and the help of others, I have begun the process of healing and repairing the relationships in my life”.
How Does Allison Mack’s Plea Deal Compare To Lauren Salzman’s Deal?
Even though Lauren Salzman pleaded guilty to the same two criminal counts, her deal appears to be quite different than Allison’s deal (Unlike Allison’s plea deal, there are several sections in Lauren’s deal that are redacted).
For one thing, it appears that Lauren’s deal required her to appear as a witness for the prosecution in Raniere’s case – which she did do.
For another, it appears that a sentencing range was likely specified in her deal.
In any event, Lauren made many of the same admissions that Allison did in terms of the criminal activities she engaged in while she was a member of NXIVM.
But her apology seemed to be much more heartfelt than Allison’s.
“Your Honor, in light of reviewing all the discovery and having many months to reflect, I came to the conclusion that the most moral and the most just course of action for me was to take full responsibility for my conduct and that is why I am pleading guilty today and I’m very sorry for my poor decision-making and decisions that result in the harm to others and not the just victims in this case but to hundreds of members of our community and their friends and families as well”.
Is Allison Mack a Victim, a Perpetrator or Both?
There has been much debate on the Frank Report as to whether Allison should be treated as a victim, a perpetrator or both.
But regardless of what anyone thinks, the terms of Allison’s plea deal make it clear that from a legal standpoint, she is a perpetrator.
It’s possible that the Probation Officer who prepares her “Pre-Sentencing Report” may take into account the fact that Allison suffered from sleep deprivation and caloric deprivation for much of the time that she was involved with NXIVM – and recommend a relatively short prison term.
It’s also possible that her Probation Officer may take into account the testimony of those witnesses who described Allison as a harsh “Master” who enjoyed punishing her slaves and as the one who often took the close-up pictures of other women’s vaginas for Keith to look at – and recommend a harsh prison term.
The “Federal Sentencing Guidelines”
Crafting appropriate sentences has always a tricky exercise for judges.
That’s basically why Congress created the “Federal Sentencing Guidelines” that most judges abide by when they are sentencing defendants who have pleaded guilty or been found guilty by a jury.
The sentencing guidelines were designed to take into account both the seriousness of the offense – and the defendant’s criminal history.
The guidelines establish 43 levels of seriousness – and the more serious the crime, the higher the offense level.
Each crime is assigned a “base offense level” – which is the starting point for coming up with the applicable sentencing guideline in each criminal case.
But each crime also has various characteristics that can increase or decrease the base offense level (Example: If a fraud case involved a $500,000 loss, that case is going to have a higher base offense level than a similar case that involved a $5,000 loss).
There are also various “adjustments” that may come into play in a case. These include such things as the defendant’s “level of involvement” in the crime; whether the defendant obstructed justice or attempted to obstruct justice during the investigation that led to the criminal charges; the defendant’s acceptance of responsibility; and whether the defendant pleaded guilty.
Finally, the guidelines also take into consideration whether the defendant has any prior criminal record.
So, How Much Time Should Allison Spend in Prison?
Without having a copy of Allison’s “Pre-Sentence Report” to review, the best I can do is make a reasonably informed “guesstimate’ as to what her applicable sentencing guidelines will be.
The “base offense level” for Racketeering and Racketeering Conspiracy is 19.
If anything, I would think the type of criminal enterprise that NXIVM was – and Allison’s level of involvement in the enterprise – will likely increase her base offense level by one or two levels.
Thus, assuming that she has no prior criminal convictions – which, insofar as we know, is the case – Allison’s sentencing guidelines will probably be 33-41 months or 37-46 months.
So, based on all that, I would estimate that Allison will likely end up with a prison term of 42 months – which means that she will likely spend about 30 months in prison and another 6 months on home confinement (She could get an additional 6-months of home confinement is she’s a model prisoner – and convinces her Counselor that she deserves that type of consideration).
She will also be fined $250,000, lose the assets she has already agreed to forfeit, pay $200 in special assessment fees, and be on probation for 3 years after she finishes her period of home confinement.
What say you, Frank Report readers: how much prison time do you think Allison will get?