Did Clare Bronfman Get Set Up by Her Attorney Mark Geragos?

Mark Geragos

2020 has been a bad year for lots of people.

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Were all the tragedies of 2020 preordained? Are we coming upon the End-Times?

That includes Clare Bronfman – who is currently waiting to be sentenced for two of the criminal activities she participated in while she was a member of – and the primary financier for – the still-active NXIVM/ESP criminal enterprise (Clare committed lots more crimes than those two but, lucky for her and her accomplices, every law enforcement agency in the Northern District of New York had apparently been bribed, blackmailed or intimidated into submission when it came to investigating NXIVM/ESP-related crimes).


Clare Bronfman, Howdy Doody’s long-lost sister.


Image result for howdy doody
Howdy Doody-Bronfman

For Clare, the bad news in 2020 began when woke up back on January 1st and realized that she was still under house arrest (That has been her status since July 2018).

And it went downhill from there.

As previously reported in Frank Report, Clare recently learned that the government has recommended in its “Sentencing Memorandum” that she serve five years in federal prison – a recommendation that many courtroom observers who have been following this case believe will be imposed on her by U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis at her sentencing on September 30th.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis

Perhaps the most galling part of the government’s “Sentencing Memorandum” was the disclosure that Clare’s then-attorney, Mark Geragos, may have advertently or inadvertently helped set her up for the predicament she now faces.

Mark Geragos

As was noted by the government in its recent submission, “Unlike most plea agreements into which the government enters, the agreement the government negotiated with Bronfman in this case expressly allows it to recommend any sentence to the Court”.

The actual wording in Clare’s plea agreement is as follows: “The parties agree that either party may seek a sentence outside of the Guidelines range, suggest that the Probation Office consider a sentence outside of the Guidelines range, and suggest that the Court consider a sentence outside of the Guidelines range, based upon the factors to be considered in imposing a sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).”

Whether he intended to do so or not, Geragos set Clare up for the possibility of being imprisoned for 5-years by agreeing to – and then getting her to agree to – the unusual (to say the least) language in her plea agreement.

At the time all this was happening, Geragos himself was facing scrutiny from U.S. prosecutors for his potential involvement in Michael Avenatti’s attempt to extort millions of dollars from the Nike company.


The Nike Case

Geragos and Avenatti met with several of Nike’s attorneys at Geragos’ office in New York City on March 19, 2019 after claiming that they were representing Gary Franklin,  an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball coach who supposedly had information showing that Nike employees were making illicit payments to the families of high school athletes in order to influence what colleges the athletes chose to attend.

Michael Avenatti

Their original proposal was that Nike pay them $20-$25 million to conduct an “internal investigation” regarding the alleged under-the-table payment scheme – and an additional $1.5 million to Gary Franklin (Per the deal that Avenatti and Geragos had struck, Geragos was supposedly going to get 20% of the payment from Nike).

Following the meeting, Nike’s attorneys immediately contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York – and explained what was going on.

On March 20th, the very next day, Avenatti called the Nike attorneys to discuss details of the settlement deal he and Geragos had outlined to them in their previous meeting. Federal law enforcement officials recorded that phone call.

Nike Logo

Finally, on March 22nd, Avenatti and Geragos had a second face-to-face meeting with the Nike attorneys at Geragos’ office (This time, the Nike attorneys recorded the meeting). Undoubtedly following the script that had been prepared for them by SDNY law enforcement officials, the Nike lawyers asked whether they could arrange to make a payment without having Avenatti and Geragos actually do the “internal investigation”.

Per the transcript from the tape, Avenatti replied: “If [Nike] wants to have one confidential settlement and we’re done, they can buy that for $22.5 million and we’re done,” Avenatti is quoted as saying. “Full confidentiality, we ride off into the sunset.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Avenatti set a deadline of Monday, March 25th, to finalize the settlement deal – and arrange payment. He was arrested when he showed up for that meeting based on a sealed indictment that had been approved by an SDNY judge on Sunday, March 24th.

Avenatti’s arrest occurred just hours after he had tweeted that he would be disclosing “a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball”.

Although Avenatti was the only one named in the SDNY indictment, that same indictment also mentioned another individual who was allegedly involved in the scheme to extort Nike – and while it only referred to that individual as “CC-1”, it described that person as “an attorney who is licensed to practice in the state of California, and similarly known for representation of celebrity and public figure clients”.

Michael Avenatti and his Co-Cosnpirator

Lest anyone have any doubts, The Washington Post made it very clear that Mark Geragos was, in fact, CC-1.

Geragos later became a witness for the government in its case against Avenatti – and subsequently testified against him at his trial.

Avenatti was convicted on all four charges in the indictment after a 3-week trial earlier this year. He’ll be facing a maximum sentence of 42 years whenever he is sentenced.


Why Did Mr. Geragos Walk Free and Clear?

While Geragos’ testimony against Avenatti was undoubtedly helpful, it’s doubtful the feds really needed it in order to secure guilty verdicts on all four charges they had brought against him.

So, did the feds decide not to prosecute Geragos because they wanted to use him as an insurance policy in the Avenatti case – or do the feds, in effect, pull off a twofer here?

Part 1 of the twofer would have been Geragos’ testimony at Avenatti’s trial.

And Part 2 would have been his agreement to convince his client, Clare Bronfman, to accept the terms of the plea deal that the prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) had drawn up – including the highly unusual provision that allowed the government and/or the probation officer who drafted Clare’s Pre-Sentencing Report – to recommend any prison sentence term they deemed appropriate.

 Mark Geragos leading a lamb to slaughter?

Clare Bronfman pleaded guilty on April 19, 2019 – exactly one month after Geragos had held the first meeting with Nike’s attorneys in his New York City office.

Is it not feasible that the feds convinced Geragos to recommend that Clare sign a plea deal that he knew contained a time-bomb in it?

How else can it be explained that this high-priced celebrity lawyer allowed his client, Clare Bronfman, to sign a plea deal that even the EDNY prosecutors now admit has a most unusual provision in it?

A provision that “expressly allows [them] to recommend any sentence to the Court”.

Either Mark Geragos sold out Clare to save his own ass – or he’s simply incompetent.

Either way, Clare should get back every penny she ever paid to Mark Geragos.

And she should sue his ass for malpractice.


About the author

K.R. Claviger


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  • RE K.R. Claviger’s Theory:

    My former stepfather is a criminal defense attorney. Local defense attorneys and county prosecutors occasionally do arbitrage/deals in non-violent or non-sexual criminal cases.

    I believe Claviger is right on the money.

    Geragos is not inept.

  • That’s who Mark Geragos is…The sell out king! Either to save his own skin or to pad his own pockets. They both seem to be all about money and care nothing about the people they hurt. They should both be in prison. The Bible says ‘A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”. Swindler, is definitely not a good name!!

  • A major issue on appeals is council incompetence. If defense council’s egregious error creates a fatal flaw, the charge and conviction can be thrown out or retried. This, at a minimum, splits CB from KAR if a new hearing or trial is granted for a claim of incompetent council.

    Even if CB is paying for everyone’s attorneys.

    Interesting error to set her free?

    • You are correct that many appeals on criminal convictions include an allegation of incompetence on the part of trial counsel. But as part of her plea deal (and what is standard language in all plea deals), Clare gave up her right to appeal – except with resepct to any sentence that is over 27 months. Thus, if Judge Garaufis sentences her to the 60 months recommended by the prosecution, she can only appeal the last 33 months of that sentence. And her guilty plea will stand even if she wins that limited appeal.

      Even if a defendant who pleaded guilty – or who was found guilty – wins an appeal based on incompetent counsel, that will most likely not result in any charges being thrown out. Instead, all that will happen is that the defendant will be awarded a new trial.

      The bottom line here is that Clare is going to be headed to federal prison very soon. Even if she chooses to appeal the portion of her sentence in excess of 27 months, she’ll quite likely be ordered to report to her assigned federal prison while her appeals works it way through the process.

      One more thing. While I still think it’s most likely that Clare will serve her time in the women’s federal prison in Danbury, CT, it’s possible that the BOP will assign her to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY if she does, in fcat, appeal. That would make it much easier for her to work with her appellate attorneys – and much easier for the BOP to transport her to court. Be careful what you ask for, Clare.

    • One problem is that she read the agreement and signed it. It wasn’t written in Chinese. So she bears a portion of the responsibility. She could only claim that Geragos did not fully explain what the agreement meant.

      • True…but all of this occurred BEFORE she earned her GED. So, maybe she didn’t really understand what she was reading way back then…

  • You would have thought CB would have asked the most important question – in return for co-operation how is the sentence limited? Anyone who has ever watched cop show on TV knows how those things work. So it does sound strange unless they were told the setennce might be light because of some off record issues, if the restriction were not in it.

    • From what I remember, Geragos was mentioned as being a family friend of the Bronfmans. This could be how come he was hired. So hot diggity.

      Whether he helped to screw Clare accidentally or on purpose, I don’t think that Clare is going to try recovering any money from him. It would only embarrass her further if she did, since Geragos plays a slick game. He tries to charm bears down out of treetops, and when it doesn’t work, he seems to only be hoping that his suit and his hair look delicious, and that somebody called the press.

  • Mark Geragos was not needed by the prosecution. They did not need Mark Geragos as a key witness. They had the testimony of the Nike lawyers, they had the e-mails, they had the recorded phone calls, they had the recorded conversations, and they had other documents. They had Mark Geragos on the hook as a co-conspirator, and they threw him back in the water. It would have been better to indict both Avenatti and Geragos. Surely both would have been convicted as well. That only makes sense if there is another hidden reason.

    • OK…So, do you think the “hidden reason” is that Geragos agreed to tank on Clare Bronfman’s case – and get her to sign a plea deal that left her very vulnerable? Or are you implying that there was some other”hidden reason”?

      • I tend to the former, but I cannot prove it. It will probably never be proven either, because everyone will keep silent about it. And Geragos will rather cut off his tongue than admit anything. That is in his best interest.

  • Clare defers all of her decisions to Keith. She has a 9th-grade equivalent American education and is easily swayed by purported authority figures like Keith. Clare has access to billions of dollars and so she was shuffled up the striped path quickly and given positions of power and decision-making because of her money, not her personal advancement… Which was her fear all along.

  • Karma is a bitch.

    Clare got a lawyer who did not give a damn about her. Just like how she treated Sylvie or her own workers. She got tricked. Just like she tricked and prosecuted others. She is alone. Just like when she was attacking others. She thought they were alone. She felt empowered with her money and thought the others were alien. But, God was with them … and she was and is all alone with her money.

    • Clare was manipulated by a very clever man who hid his vices and criminal intent.

      Do I believe that Clare would still hold kind feelings towards Keith knowing then what she knows now?


      Do I believe that Clare will “sing the praises of her Vanguard” after she has done a year of hard time in a correctional institute?


      Sometimes moral causes are driven by cunning people that hurt everyone involved. They’re all victims, including the Bronfmans.

  • “ Either Mark Geragos sold out Clare to save his own ass – or he’s simply incompetent.”

    This is a line of thinking I fall into whenever I read about someone involved in this particular enterprise.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com


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