Ya gotta love Judge Garaufis.
Now, Clare Bronfman is scheduled to be sentenced on Valentine’s Day.
And he has refused her attorney’s request that he explain why he’s considering an “above Guidelines” sentence for the Nxivm leader and heiress. Bronfman was previously scheduled for sentencing on January 8.
Here is the latest order from Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis:
ORDER re: Defendant Clare Bronfman’s  Motion to Adjourn Sentencing Hearing. The Application is GRANTED. Ms. Bronfman’s sentencing hearing is adjourned to February 14, 2020 at 11:00 am in Courtroom 4D South. Ms. Bronfman and the Government shall file their written objections to the pre-sentence report, if any, by no later than January 9, 2020. Ms. Bronfman may make a sentencing submission by no later than January 27, 2020. The Government may make its sentencing submission by no later than February 5, 2020. The court declines Ms. Bronfman’s request to otherwise elaborate on its December 17, 2019 scheduling order. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 12/19/2019.
Judge Garuafis’s previous order, the one he declined to elaborate on was:
ORDER as to Clare Bronfman: In advance of Clare Bronfman’s sentencing hearing scheduled for January 8, 2020, Ms. Bronfman may make a sentencing submission by no later than December 30, 2019, the Government may respond by no later than January 3, 2020, and Ms. Bronfman may reply by no later than January 6, 2020. The court advises the parties that it is considering an above Guidelines sentence. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 12/17/2019. (Davis, Eleanor)
It seems a technicality is what pushed her sentencing date back more than a month.
The Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e)(2) requires sentencing to be no sooner than 35 days after the defendant receives her presentencing report from the Probation Department.
Clare got her report on Friday the 13th of December. Adding 35 days to that date pushed sentencing back to a minimum of Jan. 17.
However, there were other factors at work – which caused it to be extended further.
The judge announced he is “considering” a stiffer sentence than what was contemplated in her plea agreement. In that agreement, her offense level was calculated at 16 – and Level 1 – which evidently resulted in a sentencing guideline of 21-27 months in prison.
That the judge would announce in advance that he is considering a heavier sentence almost certainly means he’s likely to impose it.
This renders Bronfman’s original plea deal almost moot.
Though the judge made it clear, when Clare entered her guilty plea, that he could sentence her above or below estimated sentencing guidelines, it is relatively rare for a judge to make an upward departure on sentencing unless new information comes to the surface.
It is even rarer for a judge to announce it in advance.
This leads me to believe that the upward departure is going to be significant – and that a lot of new information has come to the surface.
If it were a matter of just a few more months or even a year, it would not warrant an advance disclosure. I think we are looking at multiple years more than the 27-month maximum contemplated in her plea deal.
In Bronfman’s case, it was her new information in her presentencing report – and a parade of victims who likely named her as a monster – that caused her problems that, in effect, negated her plea deal.
She is, of course, a unique kind of criminal. She had all the money she would ever need in life, yet she was convicted of two, rather petty financial crimes – harboring an illegal alien for financial gain – that gain was under $100,000 – and conspiracy to commit identity theft – a theft – if you can call it that – that was under $400,000.
These are not crimes normally committed by someone with a net worth of more than $200 million.
Her conspiracy to commit identity theft was essentially enabling Keith Raniere to use the late Pam Cafritz’s American Express card to charge up a few hundred thousand dollars in goods and services – which were ultimately paid. It might be called a victimless crime.
The sum involved was an insignificant fraction of Bronfman’s net worth. She could have just given him the money he needed for about 1/100th of what this current case has cost her.
This is a crime that grifters in search of money commit, not someone who has all the money she would ever need.
She also harbored Sylvie, a DOS slave from the UK, and put her to work and shortchanged her in payments of about $96,000.
She committed these crimes not for financial gain but for some other reason. It was her rabid role in a criminal enterprise and her desire to rise in the organization and please her harem master and guru, Keith Raniere, that led her to a life of crime.
According to her presentencing report, it became evident that these two comparatively minor financial crimes were just the tip of the iceberg. Her presentencing report also calculates a different offense level for Bronfman and contains 25 pages of summarized victim impact statements.
This suggests there are dozens of people who think they were badly victimized by Bronfman, not just Sylvie and arguably the Estate of Cafritz – – for which crimes she pled guilty.
She was well known as the henchwoman of Nxivm – a bloodthirsty, scary, use-her-wealth-to-punish monster who sadistically carried out Raniere’s schemes to hurt his enemies. People were terrified of her.
She would spend a million dollars to $1,000 of her opponent in litigation to persecute enemies. She had no problem lying and perjuring herself to destroy enemies.
She was Raniere’s pitbull and put her fortune at his disposal. She destroyed many lives. Some of these wrote victim impact statements and the impact of those on her sentencing is evident by the judge’s announcement.
In my opinion, she is facing a minimum of four years and possibly as high as seven years. Which makes her old plea bargain utterly worthless – other than the fact that she capped her financial penalties at $6 million [plus a likely additional $500,000 fine.]
What is also interesting is that while she was convicted of harming only two victims – Sylvie and the estate of Pam Cafritz – there are dozens of victims whose voices will be heard regarding her sentencing.
This shows that plea bargains – at least the kind that Clare signed – are meaningless.
Unless there is a specific guarantee as to sentencing in a plea bargain, it can go sideways – as evidenced here.
Because of her poorly crafted plea bargain, the judge could sentence her to 10 years on the illegal alien charge and 15 years on the identity theft charge. They could run concurrently or consecutively.
If he gave her the max on both and made it consecutively, he could sentence her to 25 years. That seems unlikely.
Poor Bronfman. She had one of the most expensive lawyers in America, Mark Geragos – and she got duped in her plea deal by bad lawyering.
The right way for Bronfman would have been to have arranged her plea deal the way Joe O’Hara did – the same way which top criminal defense attorneys like William Dreyer do for their clients – which is to place an absolute cap on sentencing in the plea deal.
The judge can either accept or reject the plea deal – but if he accepts it, then the sentence is capped at whatever figure is specified therein. The judge can’t make any changes to the sentence.
If Clare had gotten competent representation, she would not have had signed a worthless plea bargain. The plea bargain could have – and should have – stated that the judge agreed not to sentence her to more than 27 months.
Joe O’Hara did this with his plea bargain and was sentenced to the capped amount, 2.5 years.
Of course, the judge has the option to either agree or reject any plea deal. But I think Clare could have gotten such a deal from the DOJ – a cap of 27 months [and a $6 million fine] and it would have been up to the judge to accept or reject it.
If he rejected it, she would have to go to trial but at least she would have known where she stood and not be fooled into a false and delusional plea deal thinking she was only going to get 27 months.
She was lulled into her plea deal undoubtedly because it read that she could appeal the sentence if the judge gave her more than 27 months. She was fooled and misled by her incompetent attorneys.
The judge, when he sentences her to 4 or 5 years or more – will have a solid basis in doing so.
Clare’s appeal will be futile.
Her plea deal meant nothing. It was not worth the paper it was printed on. She is going to be sentenced harshly.
To understand how the sentencing guidelines work read here
While things have been going badly for Clare, the judge did grant one request of the defense’s. The defense explained to the judge that Geragos is on trial in Utah from January to March and they requested a Friday date for sentencing since the Utah court is not sitting on Fridays.
Valentine’s Day is on a Friday next year
Meantime, Bronfman remains at her Manhattan luxury apartment subject to home confinement. She will spend Christmas there.
I believe that when she is sentenced on Feb. 14, she will be immediately handcuffed and led to prison.
She represents a flight risk. She has a $100 million bail bond to help ensure she does not flee to to Fiji, France, Libya or wherever she could fight extradition.
Even though the risk of flight might be small, I do not think the judge will be interested in ignoring the fact that the super wealthy heiress will now be facing a significant period of time in prison – as opposed to home confinement – and might just try to make a break for it.
I don’t think he will allow her to remain free pending appeal. I also doubt that he will give her a month or so – as judges sometimes do with defendants – to wrap up their affairs. I think she’ll be led off to prison the moment she is sentenced.
Her birthday is April 8. She will be 41. For her first 39 years, she had freedom and all the wealth she could possibly need.
Her 40th birthday was spent under home arrest – and soon after that, she made her worthless plea deal.
Her next brithday will be in prison and depending on the sentence, it might be at a minimum security prison [up to three years], a mid-level security prison [up to 10 years], or a maximum security prison [10 years and above.]
As it stand at the moment, Raniere is now scheduled to be sentenced first – on January 17. I suspect that will be postponed too.
Here is my reasoning: A defendant has 35 days from the receipt of his presentencing report to his sentencing date.
I doubt Raniere has received his presenetinceing report.
Why? Because he has not entered a notice of objection to it. And Raniere will certainly object to it.
He has objected to everything – often being the only defendant to do so.’
So if he hasn’t objected to it yet – he likely hasn’t gotten it yet.
If he has not gotten it yet – then adding 35 days to whenever he gets it puts it past Jan. 17.
Supposing he gets it tomorrow – the earliest date for sentencing for him would be January 24.
He is presently scheduled for Jan 17.
My point in this is that if you are planning a trip to Brooklyn to be at his sentencing – which I understand dozens of victims are – don’t count on the date of Jan. 17.
Finally, I smell the odor of Salzman and Salzman on and about Clare’s sentencing report.
It is my strong suspicion that they are cooperating with the feds in the EDNY to bring additional charges against Bronfman and others.
I smell that Salzman and Salzman may wind up getting the best deals of all and the least prison time, perhaps no prison time at all.
And that Bronfman will pay a lot more in fines and penalties.
No wonder the Salzmans were all smiles when spotted at Starbucks recently.
Viva Executive Success!