We live in an age when answers to most questions can be found within seconds.
How many miles from the Earth to the moon?
288,857 (Thank you, Google).
How many square feet in an acre?
43,560 (Thanks, again, Google).
Who was the first king of Denmark?
Gorm The Old (But everyone knew that already, right?).
Yet, here we are, 29 months after Keith Alan Raniere was arrested – and more than a year after he was convicted on all seven criminal charges he was facing and all his co-defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges than they were facing – and we still have lots of unanswered questions about him, his co-defendants, the status and future of the NXIVM cult, etc.
Before we take a look at some of those questions, let’s review the main characters in this little mini-drama for the benefit of those who are relatively new readers of Frank Report – and for those who have just started learning about the NXIVM cult as a result of the new HBO series “The Vow”.
While there were dozens of people who knowingly and intentionally participated in NXIVM-related crimes – and even more who benefited in some way from its numerous criminal activities – only six people have, thus far, been charged with any cult-related crimes.
[Don’t read too much into that “thus far”. I don’t have any information about any criminal charges being brought against more of the people who participated in – and/or who aided and abetted Raniere and his cronies regarding – NXIVM-related crimes. I’m just holding that door open in case some law enforcement official in the Northern District of New York – or the Western District of New York – ever has enough courage and tenacity to prosecute the other charges that should have been brought a long time ago].
Keith Alan Raniere
At the top of the list is, of course, Keith Alan Raniere AKA Vanguard and NKA Federal Prisoner #57005-177 (You can read more about him in my last post). He is currently scheduled to be sentenced on October 27th in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) – and, according to many courtroom observers, he will likely end up with a sentence somewhere between 30-years and life.
He was found guilty of all seven charges he was facing: Racketeering, Racketeering Conspiracy, Forced Labor Conspiracy, Wire Fraud Conspiracy, Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, Sex Trafficking, and Attempted Sex Trafficking.
He also had four other charges dismissed in the EDNY – and referred to the NDNY: two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child, one count of Possession of Child Pornography, and one count Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft.
He has been incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY since March 2018 – but will be likely moved to a different maximum-security federal prison such as the ones in Allenwood, PA or Lewiston, PA soon after he is sentenced. That is, of course, unless the Bureau of Prisons deems him to be an ongoing danger – and assigns him to ADX Florence, the underground supermax prison in Fremont County, CO.
Next up is Nancy Salzman, the co-founder and putative President of NXIVM and all its progeny of companies, non-profit organizations, and the like.
Nancy – who required members of the cult to call her “Prefect” – was originally charged with one count Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy.
She was the first of Raniere’s co-defendants to break ranks when she pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy in March 2019.
She was arrested back in July 2018 after federal agents conducted a search of her home – and found
Nancy’s guilty plea was apparently not part of any sort of plea deal agreement. At the time of her plea hearing, it was reported that her attorneys had not informed the attorneys representing Raniere – or the attorneys representing any of her other co-defendants – of her plans.
Although the 65-year old Salzman could receive a sentence of 33-41 months in federal prison per the applicable sentencing guidelines. most of the attorneys who are familiar with the case, believe that she will receive substantially less than that.
The likelihood of her receiving a much lower sentence would likely be enhanced if she has been providing federal investigators with detailed information about NXIVM’s other criminal activities – and even more so if she were to testify in any future criminal proceedings.
Just a few weeks after her mother entered her guilty plea, Lauren cut a deal that allowed her to plead guilty to one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy.
In addition to those two counts, she was also facing charges for Forced Labor Conspiracy and Wire Fraud Conspiracy.
Each of the charges to which Lauren pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 20-years. But given that she did enter into some sort of plea agreement (it was filed “under seal”) – and given that she was, by most accounts, the prosecution’s top witness at Raniere’s trial – it is expected that Lauren will be given a much lighter sentence.
Now in her early 40s, Lauren spent more than 15 years waiting to have a child with Raniere. She even went so far as to decorate and furnish one of the rooms in her house as a nursery for the child that was never to be.
But despite whatever disappointed she experienced because of never being impregnated by Raniere, she was loyal to him to the bitter end.
That end occurred when the Mexican Policia showed up with submachine guns in hand – and forced their way into the villa where she was staying with Raniere and several other women in Puerto Vallarta back in March 2018.
Raniere, showing the speed that reportedly allowed him to tie the New York State record for the 100-yard dash, left her to deal with the Policia while he hid in a closet in one of the bedrooms.
Less than two weeks after Lauren cut her plea deal with the prosecution, it was Allison Mack’s turn to stand before U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis and plead guilty to the same two charges: one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy.
In addition to those two counts, the former Hollywood actress was also facing charges for Forced Labor Conspiracy, Wire Fraud Conspiracy, Sex trafficking, ex Trafficking Conspiracy, and Attempted Sex Trafficking Conspiracy.
Although no details were disclosed at the hearing at which she pleaded guilty, it is expected that the applicable sentencing guidelines for Allison will be somewhere in the range of 30-48 months.
Whether she will get less than that will likely depend on the contents of her “Pre-Sentencing Report” – and the ability/inability of her attorneys to convince Judge Garaufis that she was as much a “victim” as a “perpetrator”.
During the 12 years she was part of NXIVM, Mack reportedly squandered away most, if not all, of her $8 million of savings.
During that same time, she worked her way up the ranks of the cult – and up the rankings of Raniere’s harem.
It was, in fact, Allison that Raniere chose to head up the “Dominus Obsequious Sororium” (DOS) society he had created – and who was responsible for arranging for the brandings and collecting the collateral that each DOS member had to provide every month.
Clare Bronfman – who combined with her sister, Sarah Bronfman-Igtet, reportedly pissed away more than $300-million financing NXIVM and covering Raniere’s investment schemes and business ventures – cut what appeared to be a magnificent plea deal just a couple of months before she was to go on trial.
Although she was facing one count each of Racketeering, Racketeering Conspiracy, and Conspiracy To Commit Identify Theft, Clare was allowed to plead guilty to two lesser felonies: one count of Concealing and Harboring An Undocumented Immigrant For Financial Gain – and one count of Fraudulent Use Of Identification.
Of course, a deal like that doesn’t come cheaply.
In addition to paying for a passel of high-priced attorneys, Clare agreed to pay $6-million in restitution – and to not appeal any prison sentence that was 27 months or less.
That last provision sounded rather innocuous at the time of her plea deal in April 2019.
But it became very nocuous when Judge Garaufis announced on December 17, 2019 that he was “considering an above Guidelines” prison sentence for Clare.
Since that pronouncement, Clare has hired Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. to represent her.
Sullivan did not exactly impress in his interactions with Judge Garaufis when he insisted that Clare had not been involved in funding the Raniere’s various illegal operations – including, specifically, the entire DOS master/slave branding operation.
“Excuse me — I’m not new to this party, sir,” a clearly annoyed Garaufis told the lawyer. “She was writing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars for this enterprise. You’re claiming she wasn’t a party to the criminal enterprise. She was writing a lot of checks.”
Sullivan has asked that Judge Garaufis hold a Fatico hearing so that Clare can dispute specific allegations in her “Pre-Sentencing Report”.
While the judge has not decided whether to hold such a hearing, he has made it clear that if he does so, Clare will have to testify under oath during it.
Many courtroom observers who are aware of Clare’s penchant for lying under oath do not believe that Sullivan will follow through with his push for a Fatico hearing.
But we’ll find out about that soon enough as both Sullivan and the prosecution are scheduled to file documents concerning the proposed Fatico hearing over the course of the next two weeks.
Kathy was the last of Raniere’s co-defendants to plead guilty – and thereby avoid going to trial sitting next to him.
Originally, she had been charged with Racketeering Conspiracy – and several underlying predicate acts.
But in April 2019, she entered into a plea deal that allowed her to plead guilty to one count of Visa Fraud – and that indicated her maximum prison sentence would be 12-months.
Unlike Clare Bronfman, Judge Garaufis has not indicated that he is considering an “above the Guidelines” sentence for Kathy.
In fact, most courtroom observers believe that she will receive a sentence of 6 months or less.
So, there we have it.
Those are the main players in the NXIVM mini-drama.
And, as we shall see in the next part of this series, there are still lots of unanswered questions about each of them – and many others connected to the NXIVM sex cult.
As an example, let’s consider why no sentencing hearings have been set for anyone else except Keith and Clare.
Clearly, they’re all going to be sentenced.
So, why not set sentencing dates for them now?
And why are they presumably being sentenced after Clare and Keith?
That’s not the way these things are usually done.
Are all these oddities due to the COVID-19 situation?
Or are other things afoot.
Stay tuned as we explore all those – and a lot more – unanswered questions about the NXIVM cult and its leaders…