This is Part 2 of a series that is reviewing various people who were not called by the prosecution as witnesses in Keith Raniere’s trial.
In Part 1, we looked at two of Raniere’s co-defendants in the case – Nancy Salzman and Allison Mack – both of whom chose to plead guilty to reduced charges rather than go to trial (Given how things turned out for Raniere, it looks like they both avoided much more severe sentences than they will end up with now).
On March 13, 2019, the now 65-year-old Salzman pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering.
During the course of her plea hearing, Salzman had to admit that she did not have the Master’s Degree she previously claimed to have earned – and that she had, in fact, only earned an associate’s degree when she attended nursing school.
She also had to admit that she had participated in two conspiratorial acts: one to commit identity theft – and another to alter records for use in an official proceeding.
As further explained by Moira Kim Penza, the lead government attorney in the case, Salzman was involved in NXIVM’s successful attempt to obtain the usernames and passwords for the email accounts of various individuals that the cult considered to be its enemies – and in the alteration of videotapes that were turned over as evidence in NXIVM’s civil case against Rick Ross.
As explained to her by U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, Salzman is facing a prison sentence of 33-41 months per the applicable sentencing guidelines.
Many courtroom observers believe that she will end up with a lesser prison sentence because of her age and medical condition – and, most importantly, because she was the first one of the co-defendants to plead guilty.
On April 8, 2019, the now 37-year-old Mack pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering – and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy.
During the course of her plea hearing, Mack had to admit that she had compelled and induced Jane Doe 5 and Jane Doe 8 to provide her with nude photographs of themselves – and with uncompensated labor and services – as part of their participation in DOS.
Judge Garaufis explained to Mack that the maximum prison sentence she could be facing is 20-years each for the two counts to which she pleaded guilty.
He did not discuss with her what the sentencing guidelines indicated her sentence might be – but that topic was likely spelled out in the plea agreement that she entered into as part of her plea deal.
So, now let’s take a look at Raniere’s other two co-defendants who took plea deals before he went to trial but who were not called as witnesses by the prosecution – Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell – and try to figure out why they were left on the bench by Penza and company.
Having Clare Bronfman take the stand would have also packed the courtroom – and the overflow rooms – just the same way as if Allison Mack had been called to testify.
Sure, it would have likely been a very different group of people. But, there wouldn’t have been any empty seats on whatever days Clare was there.
Clare would have been able to testify about a lot of illegal things that the NXIVM cult/criminal enterprise did to obtain information and records about lots of people.
Like all the computer hacking that Ben Meyers and Steve Ose did at Raniere’s direction.
Or about the Canaprobe group that Clare hired to come up with the bank records and other personal information about several federal judges and politicians.
She could have also shed some light on what those private investigators she hired to look into Kristin Snyder’s disappearance actually did for the $500,000 she paid them.
Just think how much fun it would have been to have her reveal how much she and her sister, Sara, paid out over the years to fund Raniere’s terror-by-litigation strategy.
And, last but not least, wouldn’t you have loved to hear Clare spill the beans on why there was never any investigation or prosecution undertaken against NXIVM by any law enforcement entity in the Northern District of New York?
So, why didn’t Moira Kim Penza call Clare as a prosecution witness?
Well, the most likely reason is that NOT having to appear as a witness was probably one of the stipulations in Clare’s plea deal. Surely, she would have willingly tossed in a couple million or so just to avoid the possibility that she might be asked to provide damaging information about her beloved Vanguard.
Another possibility is that the Feds knew just how easy it would have been for Raniere’s attorneys to impeach Clare’s credibility.
This is, after all, the same women who answered one question two different ways while testifying under oath in both instances.
And just how trustworthy would the jurors have found Clare to be when they learned that she had perjured herself while testifying before a Grand Jury?
What say you, Frank Report readers?
Why do you think Clare Bronfman was not called as a prosecution witness?
Kathy Russell would not have attracted much of a crowd if she had been called to take the witness stand.
But as the person who kept multiple sets of books for every entity that was part of the criminal enterprise, she could have certainly regaled the jurors with stories about all the cash that was carried over the Mexican border by NXIVM’s mules.
And wouldn’t it have been fun to hear her talk about the series of post office boxes where cash was picked up every few days – and brought to Kathy for counting?
Not to mention that we could finally find out exactly how much cash Nancy was holding at her house: i.e., was that $520,000 that the FBI seized just the crumbs she wasn’t able to move before they showed up?
So, why wouldn’t Moira want to put Kathy Russell on the stand – and have her testify about some of the financial aspects of the NXIVM criminal enterprise?
Well, to begin with, Kathy comes off as a little bit flighty – even when she’s not totally starved or sleep-deprived.
And she also comes off as a somewhat sympathetic figure – kind of like your spinster Aunt Molly who puts on a heavy cardigan sweater whenever the outside temperature is under 60 degrees.
Moira might have also been worried about Raniere’s attorneys asking Kathy questions about all her threesomes with Vanguard and various members of Raniere’s harem. While titillating, those questions might have totally destroyed Kathy’s credibility with the jury.
And last, but not least, think about how weird it would have gotten if Raniere’s attorneys started asking Kathy questions about her ballerina career.
What say you, Frank Report readers?
Why do you think Kathy Russell was not called as a prosecution witness?
Stay tuned – in the next part of this series, we’ll start looking at some non-members of NXIVM who could have been called by the prosecution.