The judge has spoken.
It appears only two parties – the prosecution and Clare Bronfman – can authorize people to speak at her sentencing.
So no, you just can’t just walk in off the street, sign up on the day she is being sentenced, and pontificate on sentencing the lately pious heiress.
Clare Webb Bronfman will be 41 when she is sentenced on April 23. And, if you want to speak at her sentencing, you better act soon.
Here’s the judge’s order:
ORDER as to Clare Bronfman: The parties are DIRECTED to submit a letter setting forth their agreed-upon schedule for sentencing submissions by no later than February 7, 2020. Further, the parties are DIRECTED to provide the court with the names of any individuals who may wish to be heard at Ms. Bronfman’s April 23, 2020 sentencing hearing by no later than 10:00 am on April 21, 2020. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 1/31/2020.
In order to speak, you have to be approved no later than April 21, which means you need to be vetted well in advance.
If you wish to speak against Clare, contact Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar, at (718) 254-7000.
Please, no frivolous calls. If you never met Clare or never had an incident where she victimized you, don’t bother to call. The dance card for victims of Clare appears to be pretty full.
On the other hand, if you wish to speak in favor of Clare, of how she did something beneficial for you, then you should call her attorney, Kathleen Cassidy (212) 997-7400.
There is reportedly a shortage of people who can say they ever experienced anything nice from Clare.
So, even if she did something ever so slight, say, for instance, gave you a few beads of sweat off the jockstrap Raniere ordered her to wear, give Kathleen a shout.
Sentencing starts at 10 am and if enough people are approved to speak, it might take all day.
One of the great psychological facts of sentencing hearings is that a good defense seeks to equal or surpass the number of speakers for the prosecution. This provides a curious medley of confusing messages and delivers doubt about the villainy of the defendant.
Whereas, if all or most speakers are for the prosecution, a certain mood is cast in the courtroom akin to what you might see with a lynch mob prior to hanging.
Consider how it could go. Suppose you have only victims speaking about how Clare destroyed their lives. It will be ugly. The mood will be increasingly emotional and grim.
But suppose Clare’s defense rustles up an equal number of people to praise the heiress. Let me offer a possible scenario:
Victim A comes up and tells how Clare filed a false criminal complaint against her that almost landed her in prison, then sued her into bankruptcy for no other reason than she wanted to leave the cult.
Then Clare supporter A comes up and tells of how Clare once allowed her to clean her apartment and polish her car and gave her a bright shiny nickel.
Victim B then comes up and says how Clare signed immigration documents saying she would pay her a certain sum and, based on this, she came to the US. Then Clare only paid her half the promised wages – and being broke, there was nothing she could do to rectify the situation. Later, Clare coerced her into having sex with horrid Raniere, after Clare told her she could not have sex with her own husband.
Then Clare supporter B comes up and talks about how Clare was a customer at her salon and how Clare allowed her to shine her shoes and lick her boot heels and not only did Clare pay the full bill but also gave her a 15 cent tip.
It could go on and on like this all day.
Clare does have enough money to pay supporters, if she can find any, to come to Brooklyn. If she is wise, she will pack the courtroom with paid supporters to speak on her behalf.
The bad news for Clare is, as Frank Report readers know, her Pre-Sentencing Report went badly.
She thought her plea deal, wherein the DOJ estimated 21-27 months for sentencing guidelines, was solid when she signed it last April.
But she found out in December that it was meaningless. New estimates, impacted by an estimated 100 victim impact statements, pushed it upwards. Many of those victims will be headed to Brooklyn in April to speak.
The sentencing range the judge can hand down on her two felonies is wide. He can give her nothing – just probation – or hammer her for 25 years. From zero to 25, that’s a lot of discretion.
What’s really astonishing is that Clare paid a shitload of money to her attorneys, particularly her lead attorney, celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos. She also paid a $6 million fine to the DOJ.
All she bought was a worthless plea bargain.
I doubt anybody told her at the time that her plea bargain wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. She thought she was getting two years. Now, she might get double or triple that. I suspect the revised sentencing guidelines estimate is in the 4-5 year range.
Then the judge might make a further upward departure and hit her with 7 or possibly even 10 years.
Now think about how deliciously fair this is.
For almost 20 years, Clare used her money to cheat and abuse people through the legal system, suing them, through tricks and perjury, and trying to get indictments through perjury and likely bribery of lawyers and government officials, to suborn perjury.
Now, when she is on the other end of a criminal case, she hires the most expensive lawyer in the country, and he negotiates a worthless plea deal. The DOJ used her own game against her. They tricked her, by estimating a clearly too low sentencing guideline [21-27 months].
Then, after they got her to sign, the DOJ went out and sought victims for her Pre-Sentencing Report to pump up sentencing guidelines.
Normally, you would say this isn’t cricket. The DOJ negotiated in bad faith.
But somehow, in Clare’s case, since she never played cricket – or anything else – by the rules, it’s hard to work up much sympathy for her.
It is unlikely that she will get such a long sentence that she will come out looking like this, but that’s up to the judge.