As expected, the sentencing hearing for Clare Bronfman – the former Director of Operations for the NXIVM cult/criminal enterprise and its primary source of funding – has been postponed yet again.
On Friday, April 3rd, in what appears to be a Sua Sponte Order, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis adjourned Bronfman’s scheduled sentencing from 10:00 AM on Tuesday, April 21st, to 10:00 AM on Tuesday, June 23rd.
The complete Order was as follows:
ORDER: Defendant Clare Bronfman’s sentencing hearing is ADJOURNED to June 25, 2020 at 10:00 am in Courtroom 4-D South. Ms. Bronfman shall submit her sentencing memorandum by no later than June 5, 2020. The Government shall submit its sentencing memorandum by no later than June 15, 2020. The parties are DIRECTED to provide the court with the names of individuals who may wish to be heard at Ms. Bronfman’s sentencing hearing by no later than 10:00 am on June 23, 2020. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 4/3/2020.
Although there is no such indication in the Order, it seems reasonable to assume that it was issued because of the current coronavirus crisis in New York City.
As of Friday night, there were 56,289 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City.
Of those, 1,867 had died as of Friday night.
Worse yet, virtually every measure concerning the impact of the disease was still on the upswing in NYC.
In the prior 24-hours, an additional 1,100 coronavirus patients had been hospitalized – and another 305 had died.
New Schedule for Clare Bronfman’s Sentencing
Per the new schedule, Bronfman’s attorneys must submit their response to her “Pre-Sentencing Report” by June 5th.
Thereafter, the government will have 10 days to submit its “Sentencing Memorandum” to Judge Garaufis.
Both sides must also provide the judge with a list of names of the people who wish to appear at Bronfman’s sentencing hearing no later than 10:00 AM on June 23rd.
It is unclear whether Bronfman’s victims will be allowed to appear in person at her sentencing hearing to read their “Victim Impact Statements” into the record.
Under new federal guidelines, they may be allowed to do that via Skype, Zoom or some other teleconferencing app.
It is also possible that courtroom proceedings will be made available to the media during Clare’s sentencing hearing.
Raniere’s Sentencing May Be Postponed Again
As of right now, the sentencing for Keith Alan Raniere – the founder and leader of the NXIVM cult/criminal enterprise – is still set for 10:00 AM on Thursday, May 21st.
But given the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases in New York City, it is quite likely that it will also get pushed back another month or so.
Meanwhile, Raniere remains in the Manhattan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn – where he and the other 1,700 inmates there are currently on “lockdown” (The same is true for all 175,000 inmates in federal facilities across the country).
MDC was the site of the first federal inmate to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite that fact – and despite the fact the MDC is almost the perfect set-up for the rapid spread of the disease – very little new testing is going on there.
As of Friday, only a total of five inmates had been tested at MDC.
That new testing information was released as a result of an Order that was issued last week by EDNY Chief U.S. District Court Judge Roslynn Mauskopf who has directed MDC – and its sister facility, the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan – to submit twice-weekly reports to her concerning the spread of coronavirus in those two facilities.
According to the wording of her Order, Mauskopf wants prison officials to provide “current, consistent, and accurate information” so that she – and other federal judges in New York City – can make informed decisions with respect to the surge of emergency bail applications and other coronavirus-petitions that are being filed on behalf of prisoners at MCC and MDC.
In a separate hearing on Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Margo Brodie, representatives from MCC and MDC admitted that they were not able to keep up with the requests from attorneys who want to speak with their clients (Both facilities have eliminated almost all legal visits).
In fact, each facility has only been to schedule 15 to 20 legal calls per day even though they are receiving, on average, 40 requests per day for such calls.
Brodie declined to enter a new Order on Friday that would mandate MCC and MDC to increase the number of legal calls – but she did direct the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to submit a letter by Monday, April 6th, explaining why so few legal calls are taking place. She also indicated that if she was not satisfied with the BOP’s explanation, she would order the agency to take specific actions to increase the number of legal calls.
“No one’s getting access, and there has to be some accountability by BOP,” Brodie said. “That should not be such a challenging thing to do. You have to do better than that.”
Nationwide Lockdown of Federal Prisoners Continues
Across the country, most federal prisoners are spending at least 23-hours per day in their calls.
Per the BOP’s 14-day “Action Plan”, inmates are only being released from their cells once every three days to shower, make phone calls, and send and receive emails.
On Tuesday, March 31st, SDNY U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman implored Congress and the Trump administration to take swift action throughout the federal penitentiary system to protect inmates against the threat of the coronavirus.
In a ruling in which he said he was “powerless” to order the release of a 67-year-old inmate at MDC because of the coronavirus threat, Furman urged the BOP to release as many federal prisoners as soon as possible.
“Realistically, the best—perhaps the only—way to mitigate the damage and reduce the death toll is to decrease the jail and prison population by releasing as many people as possible,” Furman wrote in a 10-page opinion that was posted last Tuesday.
Thus far, the BOP has continued to slow-play the release of federal prisoners – citing the need to see the results of its current 14-day “lockdown” before implementing any new “early release” policy.
But since the BOP is also doing almost no testing in federal prisons, it’s hard to understand how it’s going to learn anything of value from the “lockdown”.
“Kick the can down the road” will likely continue to be the BOP’s basic approach to dealing with meddling federal judges who fear local pandemics in federal prisons.