Just like he did for defendant Keith Alan Raniere, US District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has adjourned the sentencing date for Clare Webb Bronfman and for the same reason.
The defendant has the right to decline to be sentenced via video or teleconferencing and the right to be sentenced in person.
The coronavirus pandemic has put in-person sentencing in doubt for June 25, which was supposed to be Clare’s sentencing date.
Here is the letter her attorney wrote to the judge:
We write on behalf of our client Clare Bronfman, and with the consent of the government, to seek an adjournment of Ms. Bronfman’s currently scheduled June 25 sentencing date and the current dates for submission of sentencing memoranda.
In making this request we note that Ms. Bronfman, after conferring with counsel, does not consent to proceeding with her sentencing hearing via video or teleconference. She respectfully requests that the Court adjourn her sentencing until such date as the sentencing can be conducted in person at the Courthouse.
On April 3, 2020, the Court ordered that Ms. Bronfman’s sentencing would take place on June 25, 2020. Although the Chief Judge’s current order addressing the pandemic (Admin. Order 2020-15) and providing for limited operations for essential proceedings at the Courthouse only extends through June 15, we anticipate that in person proceedings such as sentencing hearings will not resume in the Eastern District until sometime after June. Since the Chief Judge issued the current order on April 21, 2020, Governor Cuomo has extended New York Pause, which bans mass gatherings in the state, encourages residents to remain at home, limits all non-essential travel and limits personal contact, and closes all nonessential businesses for the New York City area until at least the end of May. Reports indicate that the New York City region is unlikely to meet the criteria for Phase One reopening until mid-June at the earliest, and pandemic-related travel bans, which prevent Ms. Bronfman’s family from traveling to the United States from Europe for her sentencing, appear likely to remain in place through July.
Accordingly, with the consent of the government, the defendant Clare Bronfman respectfully seeks a postponement of her sentencing date as well as the dates for submission of the parties’ sentencing memoranda.
/s/ Kathleen E. Cassidy
cc: AUSA Tanya Hajjar (via ECF)
The judge granted the request
His order was:
ORDER re: Defendant Clare Bronfman’s  Consent Motion to Adjourn Sentencing. The Motion is GRANTED. Defendant’s sentencing hearing is ADJOURNED until such time as she can be produced for proceedings in open court. The deadlines for Defendant’s and the Government’s respective sentencing memoranda are likewise ADJOURNED sine die. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 5/22/2020.
A question might be raised as to whether Clare was wise in seeking this adjournment. The argument against it is that it might annoy or anger the judge – who might wish to get the sentencing finished.
Since he can decide to sentence her anywhere from no prison time to 5 or more years, it could be argued that it is advisable not to annoy a judge who can determine years of your future with a mere word.
One of the elements of the sentencing discretion of the judge is that he can take into consideration victim impact statements from non-adjudicated victims. Clare can be sentenced for crimes she was not convicted of.
There are an estimated 100 victims who have filed written statements claiming they’re victims. Yet Clare was only convicted of two felonies involving two victims – Sylvie and the estate of Pam Cafritz.
Clare’s sentence can be influenced by anything and everything anyone who cares to claim to be a victim says about her – provided the judge thinks she should be punished for it.
Initially, when Clare took her plea deal, she was advised that sentencing guidelines for the crimes she pled guilty to – identity theft and immigration fraud – were between 21 and 24 months and that she could appeal any sentence above 27 months. Although the judge advised her that he could sentence her to as much as 25 years, Clare was evidently misled by her attorneys into believing that she was relatively safe in assuming that the judge would likely sentence her within the sentencing guideline range.
Imagine – she thought she would wind up with two years – something that she could likely endure in a low-security prison – and now might be facing double that time or possibly longer.
In December, the judge, possibly influenced by the number of people claiming to be victims, announced he was considering sentencing her to a longer sentence than the 27-month prison sentence originally determined to be the cutoff number that would open the door to an appeal.
Is this justice?
Sure Clare was a terror to many people and most alleged victims are likely true victims – although Frank Report has learned that some of the statements [not surprisingly] are filled with exaggerations and outright falsehoods.
But, by and large, the victims are telling true tales of terror at the hands of this woman who would spend millions to punish an enemy of Raniere’s without bothering to think for herself about the justice or merits of the persecution she financed for him.
But, still, is this justice? To have un-adjudicated victim statements factor in sentencing?
If that is so, what was the point of her pleading guilty to certain [limited] crimes when any crime under the sun that anyone alleges against her – after she took a plea deal – and without the benefit of cross-examination or any rules of evidence– can be considered in her sentencing?
This factors in the decision to postpone sentencing to a time when Clare and the alleged victims must appear in person.
One of the disadvantages of virtual sentencing is that the victims can speak at her sentencing virtually. This means they will not have to travel to Brooklyn but can teleconference from the comfort of their homes.
They can – hundreds of them – if the judge permits – and it appears he will – speak at her virtual hearing – even in their pajamas. All without having to face the media or enduring the discomfort of having to appear in court – or the inconvenience or expense of traveling [most of the alleged victims do not live in Brooklyn].
They can allege crimes against Clare en masse without much effort at all.
While I sympathize with the victims, I also love due process. This does not seem like due process.
Still, if victims want to be heard, I can understand Clare wanting to make them to do more than just turn on their cameras on their phones and make unchallenged statements against her to hopefully influence the judge in his sentence.
Instead of 100 victims making statements virtually – if they are required to come to Brooklyn, the number may be less than half – or maybe even only a handful.
Another reason to delay the sentencing hearing is that there is a chance that the judge may order Clare to report to prison as soon as she is sentenced.
During these horror-times in prison – with the coronavirus raging – June might be a deadly time to go – when lockdowns are commonplace, where guards and inmates are infected, and conditions are brutal.
Lockdowns mean days on end in a cell 24/7 and cold food. For health reasons alone, a delay is advisable.
Meantime, Clare remains subject to the terms of her $100 million bail. She is confined to her Manhattan apartment except for short times outside where she is allowed to shop and exercise three times per week.
She also has to wear an ankle monitor, which has been presently attached to her person for nearly two years.
Kathy Russell Is Aiding Her Ailing Sister
It appears that Kathy Russell’s sister is ill. Kathy moved from her longtime home in Albany to her sister’s home in Georgia last year – with the permission of the court.
Kathy is subject to home confinement – but on much less restrictive terms than Clare Bronfman. Kathy can leave the house by day – all day and must only be inside at night. She must remain in the Georgia judicial district where she is living.
She has made at least one previous trip with her sister to Florida for her sister’s medical treatment. She wants to go again.
Her lawyer wrote for permission for her to travel again. It was granted by the judge.
Dear Judge Garaufis:
I write to respectfully request a temporary modification of Kathy Russell’s bond conditions to allow her to travel to Jacksonville, Florida via car to accompany her sister to an appointment with a specialty doctor. Ms. Russell would leave from and return to Georgia on Tuesday, June 2. Your Honor granted a similar request on April 30, 2020, allowing Ms. Russell to support her sister with the same pressing medical issue at a May 6 appointment. Ms. Russell’s sister has an appointment on June 2 for another round of treatment, and Ms. Russell would appreciate the opportunity to assist her sister at this appointment and be available to drive her home if needed.
The government, by AUSA Tanya Hajjar, and Pretrial Services do not object to Ms. Russell’s request. I have provided proof of the doctor’s appointment to Pretrial Services.
I appreciate the Court’s consideration.
/s/ Justine A. Harris
It is my understanding that Kathy also wears an ankle monitor. There has been no sentencing date for Kathy, although prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the court seemed to be nearing setting a date for her.
This struck me as curious. Three defendants – main culprit – Keith Alan Raniere – and his two loyalists, Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell, were slated to be sentenced first. It does not appear that the three defendants who renounced Raniere will be getting their sentencing dates anytime soon.
Even Russell, whose crimes were minor compared to Bronfman and Raniere, had a sentencing date but it was put off because of coronavirus. Despite the pandemic, there has still been a push to sentence Bronfman and Raniere.
I suspect the reason is that Raniere and Bronfman both will get harsh sentences. Raniere might get a life sentence [he cannot be sentenced to less than 15 years. I think the lightest sentence he will get is 25 years.]
Bronfman may get five years or more.
These two apparently unrepentant sinners will be sentenced first and likely harshly before Russell – who I expect will go next.
She also seems still loyal to Raniere and did not cooperate with the Feds. Her sentencing guidelines were estimated to be in the 6-12 month range. If the judge is in a harsh mood, he could sentence her to several years, for lying on a document submitted for immigration purposes.
She did not cooperate with the feds so it is hard to say whether she will be made an example of with a harsh sentence.
Which leads us to the three who cooperated with the feds.
Nancy Salzman, her daughter, Lauren Salzman, and Allison Mack.
Only Lauren testified at the trial and she was convincing – in the sinking of the monster she dedicated 20 years of her life to.
Nancy also cooperated with the feds, agreeing promptly to forfeit property in her name and cash at her house.
Mack provided evidence in her possession to the feds, which was used at trial.
My guess is that the prosecution decided to get the harsh sentencing out of the way. Then, after the public is satisfied with the outcomes of the sentencing of Raniere and Bronfman and [God forbid] poor hapless Kathy, they can wait a spell and then sentence Mack and the Salzmans with light sentences.
At their hearings, my guess is that all three will proclaim they were victims of Raniere and the prosecution will support leniency since they aided the prosecution.
I suspect the judge will sentence them to light sentences, based on their being victims of Raniere. They might even get probation. It makes sense, from a standpoint of optics, to put Raniere and Bronfman in prison first and perhaps even poor Kathy before they go easy on Allison, Nancy and Lauren.
This may not be so bad [except for Kathy].
Of course, there is an argument that Nancy was a true conspirator with Raniere and Bronfman in the cruel torture of many victims.
But at this point, does anybody care if Nancy is given probation?
If Raniere is put away, sequestered from innocent people, by years of incarceration – without a chance of release until he is too old to start up another cruel cult and if Clare Bronfman is sequestered for several years – with some time to cool off before she gets out and uses her wealth to punish people – what else needs to be done?
Nxivm – except for a few embers in Mexico – is all burnt out.
Nancy and Lauren repudiated Keith and will not likely restart Nxivm. Left to their own devices, they are not likely to be the cruel torturers that Raniere and Bronfman were . Neither Salzman was known to have a desire for insane vendettas or a desire to destroy lives forever.
If they are prohibited from life coaching and giving therapy – they seem to me to be safe even if they come in contact with innocent human beings.
Probation seems reasonable for both of them, and even more so for poor Allison Mack. She got sucked in and led some of the excesses of DOS, but she was never a leader of Nxivm. She was a victim of DOS insofar as Raniere had collateral on her.
Based on the idea that women who had given collateral were coerced to do things against their will – perhaps all her actions in DOS were coerced. Allison is more victim than criminal.
Probation is indicated for all three of them and for Kathy too.