It is not unexpected.
Clare Bronfman, through her attorney Ronald Sullivan, has filed a notice of appeal.
“Notice is hereby given that Clare Bronfman hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from the sentencing judgment of 81 months’ imprisonment entered in this action on the 30th day of September 2020,” the filing says.
No details of the arguments Bronfman intends to make is given in the notice.
She was sentenced by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis to 81 months, three times the upper range of the federal sentencing guidelines. In a lengthy sentencing memorandum, which he read at her sentencing hearing on September 30, the judge explained his reasons for the harsh sentence.
Her continued loyalty to Keith Raniere, the convicted leader of the Nxivm racketeering enterprise, was given as one reason.
Appeals can take more than two years for the appellate court to render a decision. Some legal sources say that about one year is a likely estimate for Bronfman’s appeal since the only issue to be addressed is the length of her sentence (She gave up all her other appeal rights in her plea deal agreement).
In her plea deal, she reserved the right to appeal any sentence higher than 27 months. Bronfman will not appear before the appellate court.
The court of appeals will determine whether Judge Garaufis made any legal errors in determining that Clare should serve 81 months in federal prison. If there are such errors – and they are serious – the appellate court could reduce her sentence or it could refer the matter back to judge Garaufis and have him re-sentence her.
One of the issues that almost certainly will be raised in Bronfman’s sentencing appeal is that she objected to many conclusions in her Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) and requested a Fatico hearing so she could have an opportunity to challenge this errors. The judge denied her request, then sentenced her to triple the maximum of the sentencing guidelines based, in part, on the contents of the PSR.
Alleged crimes for which she did not plead guilty to were described in the Pre-Sentencing Report – and the judge certainly considered at least some of them in determining Clare’s sentence. Although a judge must “consider” the sentencing range set forth in the sentencing guidelines, the judge is not bound by it.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has recommended that Bronfman be assigned to the Danbury Federal Camp for women, the lowest security part of the federal prison facility there. She is presently at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). The fact that the judge recommended her placement at Danbury does not guarantee her placement there. That decision is solely up to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
Because of the length of her sentence and the fact that with her wealth she might be an escape risk if she were at a camp without fences, the BOP may choose to initially place her in a medium-security prison.
Another complicating factor is that Nancy and Lauren Salzman are going to be sentenced too, probably before the end of the year. They are likely to be sentenced to prison time but possibly less than Bronfman because, unlike her, they have disavowed Keith Raniere.
Because they currently reside in the Albany, NY area, the Salzmans would also qualify for Danbury. It is unlikely that the BOP would sentence Bronfman and the Salzmans to the same facility – especially considering the long-standing bail conditions that have kept the Salzmans from communicating with Bronfman since July 2018.
Bringing the three top women leaders of Nxivm – Bronfman and the two Salzmans – together would be a recipe of the potential restart of Nxivm at Danbury.
The two Salzmans, mother and daughter may be assigned to Danbury which would then exclude Bronfman. She may be reassigned elsewhere, or it is possible that she may serve her entire sentence at the MDC, which, contrary to the Danbury camp where there are outdoor activities, would mean that she would never be allowed outdoors, like all the other residents of MDC.