Now that Clare Bronfman has a date for sentencing – September 30 – it might be worthwhile to consider what her sentence is likely to be.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said he is considering an upward departure on sentencing guidelines discussed in her plea deal – which were 21-27 months. Clare’s plea deal set forth that she could not appeal any sentence Garaufis imposed UNLESS it was more than 27 months.
Obviously, then, if he signaled an upward departure and will risk an appeal from the well-funded Bronfman, he is not thinking of sentencing her to just one or two months above 27.
This suggests he will go at least another year or maybe more. I predict she gets 4 to 5 years.
Clare pled guilty on April 19, 2019, on Good Friday, in Brooklyn Federal Court to one felony count of conspiracy to conceal and harbor an illegal alien for financial gain – and one count of fraudulent use of identification. The maximum sentence for count one is ten years and for count two, 15 years. She could get a maximum of 25 years if the judge should decide to hit her with the max and have the two sentences run consecutively.
That seems unlikely. But the ruthless nature of the Nxivm racketeering enterprise, which the judge has become intimately familiar with, might prompt him to punish the vicious Clare Bronfman to a sentence that might surprise all of us. I would not rule out 10 years. And it would be far less than she deserves.
Besides Bronfman, Nancy Salzman pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy, Allison and Lauren pled guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, and Nxivm’s hapless bookkeeper, Kathy Russell pled guilty to one count of visa fraud.
All of them took hasty plea deals in April 2019, just after learning that their glorious Vanguard was charged in a superseding indictment of possession of child porn and sexually abusing a minor, a 15-year-old girl. It was pretty clear that they did not want to face a jury alongside him with these new and disgusting charges against him.
Raniere went to trial in May and was convicted on all counts, including sex trafficking, forced labor, and racketeering in June 2019.
More than a year has passed and no one has been sentenced. The sentencing was supposed to have happened originally in July and September of 2019, but dates were pushed back reportedly because pre-sentencing reports were not complete.
Sentencing was rescheduled for Bronfman, Russell and Raniere – the three Nxivm diehards to April 2020 – but with the onset of COVID -9, the dates were again pushed back. Curiously, no dates were scheduled for the Salzmans or Mack, all of whom repudiated Raniere.
Both Bronfman and Raniere have declined being sentenced over a video call. It is a defendant’s right to have sentencing in-person in court.
This might have been a wise choice for Bronfman and Raniere who each have more than 100 victims who, it is believed, signed victim impact statements as part of the pre-sentencing reports. If the sentencing had occurred via Zoom, all of those victims could merely dial in and be heard.
If the sentencing occurs in person, then victims will have to come to Brooklyn and appear in person – which will undoubtedly reduce the number of victims who will appear before the judge, in order to try to persuade him to sentence Bronfman and Raniere to as long a prison term as possible.
No one can be quite sure if dozens of victims, most of them women, tearfully describing how Raniere and Bronfman ruined their lives will be able to persuade the judge to make their sentences longer, but one thing is certain, he won’t lessen their sentences on account of victims’ appearances.
The best hope for Raniere and Bronfman is to appear in person, marshall a few people to support them if possible, and hope that COVID-19 fears will keep most victims away from the sentencing hearing.
When the hearing was held this week to determine a sentencing date for Bronfman, her attorney told the judge that she wanted her mother, Georgiana Webb Bronfman Havers, and her older sister, Sara Bronfman-Igtet, to be present for the sentencing hearing.
This would occasion, her attorney said, a delay of a couple of months for sentencing because both are out of the country and with COVID-19, it might take some time for them to get to the USA.
Georgiana is in Britain and Sara Bronfman-Igtet is hiding in Portugal, after recently leaving France after a scandal there concerning her so-called school for children, which was revealed by Frank Report as a dangerous children’s experiment.
I will be surprised is Sara Bronfman-Igtet will risk coming to the US. She was a major financier of the Nxivm criminal enterprise and somehow did not get charged – at least as of yet.
Sara declined to come to the USA when Clare was trying to make her $100 million bail – even though Sara put up some of her real estate for Clare as part of the bail package. Sara sent husband Basit Igtet in her stead, claiming she could not come because she had two infant children to care for and could not travel.
That was pre-COVID-19. Most observers thought she declined to come to America not because of her children but because she feared a sealed indictment and her arrest upon arrival from France, where she lived at the time.
I do not think she will come to America for the same reason this time. There may be a sealed indictment and the feds might be waiting for her to land in the US to arrest her. This notion that Clare wants to wait for her sister is likely nothing more Nxivm-style lying.
She knows her sister won’t come. She wants to delay sentencing and the date she eventually has to report to prison. The judge declined to grant Clare’s request, saying it could possibly be years before travel is permitted due to the pandemic.
Bronfman may be trying to delay her ultimate appointment with prison because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unpleasant enough to be in prison without a pandemic, but lockdowns and long, unhealthy confinement in cells is part of the COVID-19 protocol in prison. Clare would probably have to go into quarantine upon arrival and then be under lockdown for as much as 23 hours per day.
Instead of home confinement in a luxury apartment, she would be in a small cell, perhaps measuring 8X10.
It should also be interesting to see if Clare is hauled away immediately after sentencing. The judge has two options. He can give her a date in the future to report to prison, giving her some time to settle affairs and then head to prison on her own. Or he can order her handcuffed on the spot and taken to prison.
I think the judge will opt for the latter. Bronfman has a lot of money. If she gets a hefty sentence, as is expected, she might, with her wealth, leave the courtroom and never report to prison. She could charter a private plane, perhaps with the help of her sister and join her in Portugal or any other place where extradition is difficult.
Of course, one could argue that, if she was going to do that, she might have already done that, but, then again, she may have been hoping for a sentence close to two years which she thought she had bargained for when she made her foolish plea deal.
If, on the odd chance, she gets a sentence of five, six or more, even 10 years – and that is certainly not impossible – she might decide to flee the jurisdiction. Even if the chance of her doing it is remote, the judge might not want to risk it and so I think he will likely order her handcuffed one second after pronouncing sentence.
No wonder she wants to delay sentencing as long as she can. She has not tasted prison.
Raniere is the only Nxivm defendant in custody – at the horrifying Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He has been there for more than two years. [His detention will go towards time served. The home arrests of the other defendants are not counted toward time served.]
Mack is also currently under house arrest, living with her parents in Los Alamitos California on $5 million bail. Nancy and Lauren Salzman and hapless bookkeeper Kathy Russell are also on home arrest, but the terms of their home arrest are more lenient than Bronfman and Mack, who are only allowed to leave home for brief intervals.
The Salzmans and Russell may leave home all day long and only need be back home during the night.
As for sentences, I estimate:
Raniere will get at least 25 years, and probably more like 35-40. He could be sentenced to life. He is almost 60 years old, so even a sentence of 25 years would put him, even with time served and time off for good behavior, close to 80 when he gets out if, of course, he actually survives prison.
It is ironic.
Raniere, who claimed he was the world’s smartest man, always put everything in others’ names thinking that, in case the feds came after Nxivm, that others like Salzman and Mack would go to prison and he would be spared. He created DOS and tried to get Mack and others to claim he had nothing to do with it so if there were any criminal charges, they would be against the women and he would be spared.
He miscalculated. He will probably be sentenced to more prison time than the other five defendants put together.
Let’s use higher numbers for prison sentences for the other defendants: Allison 5, Nancy 5, Lauren 5, Clare 7, Kathy 2 = 24 years.
I cannot imagine Keith getting less than 25 years. [Even the best plea deal he could get from the feds was 25 years prior to trial].
How often the world’s smartest man miscalculated. I was told that Raniere, in Mexico, just a few days before his arrest, was relaxed and certain he was safe from arrest. He told others that he planned to rebuild Nxivm bigger and better than ever from his safe new home in Puerto Vallarta.
Now, all he needed was a good group blow job. He miscalculated on that too.