Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 of the “From Prison: Keith Raniere” series on the subject of his co-defendants’ innocence.
These were written by Raniere from prison.
I have already explained why I chose to publish this series in Part 1 and in a separate post, Why I Choose to Publish Raniere’s Prison Letters About the ‘Innocence’ of His Codefendants.
Raniere’s co-defendants are Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.
In this article, Raniere addresses the subject of Nancy Salzman.
Nancy Salzman’s Background
When I first met Nancy, she thought I was a stock-boy. I was working in one of my businesses, a health network store, so there I was, barefoot and in shorts, moving boxes of product in the summer heat
I searched for many years, through many professionals, to find a potential collaborator. When I met Nancy, and started to know her, I began to feel she was the one for whom I sought.
Nancy is a person of both extreme skill and experience. As a self-proclaimed information junkie, she studied under some of the top proponents in the human potential field. She started life as a typical Jewish girl from New Jersey, becoming a registered nurse (RN), marrying young (to a doctor), and having two daughters soon thereafter.
Through nursing she specialized in chronic pain management, studied hypnosis, then Eriksonian hypnosis, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) (including studying with one of its founders), and diligently studied any other modality or method she could find. She went on to train many thousands of people: doctors, therapists, CEOs, families, and other people of all types.
Nancy watched me apply my methodology and experienced it as different than anything she had ever seen and highly effective. Ultimately, we came to know, trust, and care for each other deeply: enough to devote our lives to bringing forth this body of knowledge together.
Nancy Was My Lifework Partner
Nancy is a wonderful woman. During the years (decades) I was her lifework partner she was known as the “energizer bunny” with a zest and joy of people. Nancy could blend with almost anyone being enjoyed and socially savvy in all situations: from meeting with the most down-trodden person, to conversations with world leaders. Nancy always had an exuberantly positive relationship, never fought, and I could always rely upon her during the toughest times.
She was the essential start of many of my days by warmly welcoming me into her home (and life), making me the breakfast I always needed, and providing endless supportive, loving, care.
I will always love her dearly.
Why Nancy Took a Plea Deal
Motivation to Plea:
Nancy has a grave health challenge. From the beginning her attorneys stated she would not go to trial (this means she would plea). Nancy pled but did not cooperate with the prosecution. Why would Nancy not go to trial? I can think of a number of strong reasons. I do not necessarily agree with these reasons, but that does not make them wrongful, or any less valid.
For the past 20 years Nancy has built many things with me. She would frequently thank me for her life. During the last few years of our relationship Nancy began to hear concerns and complaints about the sorority. At times she asked me about it and I reported to her honestly, but did not violate any confidences. From Nancy’s perspective, I started this odd thing, outside of her vision, causing problems, and disturbing our mission. Once the bad press started, she saw 20 years of work and a joyful community being destroyed. Although I do not know her current opinion of me. I believe it is simplest for her to think I am bad and did not care.
I also believe Nancy’s lawyers, considering Nancy’s condition and remote participation in the alleged acts, deeply believed I was the problem in Nancy’s life. I think they began to systematically steer her away from me and towards a plea. Although, Nancy’s team was part of the larger defense team, during the year or more before she plead, I never spoke to her or her attorneys (l met one of them in passing), and they apparently never expressed an interest in active participation.
Nancy Salzman Plea Deal Was Utterly False
Nancy’s plea was false.
Neither she nor her attorneys may have had the information to know this.
Instead of Nancy defining the RICO enterprise, she essentially said, “it is whatever the prosecution says it is.”
In truth, the government’s claimed RICO enterprise had no consistent purpose and simply did not exist. As one example of several, the prosecution defined the purpose of the enterprise as promoting me. They also claimed part of the crimes of the enterprise was effectively deceiving people by not promoting me. There are several other more compelling reasons, which will not discuss here. In the end, not only is the enterprise false, so is the alleged criminal activity.
Nancy’s allocution was very general in addressing the charge against her relating to spying on alleged opponents.
At times, when we were attacked, we took security measures to protect ourselves. Sometimes this involved identifying attackers etc. These operations were always “white hat,” meaning moral. Most of the time we had top level consultants, obtained from our attorney firms, helping us assess our actions. The alleged crimes are not true.
Nancy also pled guilty to conspiring to tamper with discovery evidence in a case. She actually had no way of knowing what actually happened, for any production of evidence for a case is very remote from her. I think Nancy was being a good leader and taking responsibility for all things within her charge (all of NXIVM’s doings), but the alleged crime is not true.
Cooperation with the Prosecution:
Nancy did not cooperate with the prosecution which I think is very good considering the prosecution has used hate extensively in their case against us. I believe one must never participate in any prosecution or process which uses hate. Even if the process is against the devil himself, you are simply joining him if you participate in hate. Not participating in hate is a higher value than convicting anyone
- (First to Plea) Nancy was the first to plea, and by splitting interests with the defense she said, seemingly, there was some sort of crime within the case. For the first time, someone (who is very important) said to the world, in effect, “yes, there was crime and there is some virtue to these proceedings.”
- (Raising Issues) Unfortunately, Nancy’s pleading guilty to some of the allegations. and agreeing to the RICO charge, raises issues not existing before her plea.
- (Criminalization) To many her plea made NXIVM criminal.
- (Opinions) It affected the opinions of the public, our community (who for the first time in its existence saw a divide Nancy and myself), and the judge.
- (Embolden Prosecution) It also emboldened the wrongful prosecution.
- (Patents) I may lose over 100 of my patents because First Principles Inc., custodian of them with use rights, is under forfeiture.
- (Justifying Hate) More abstractly it helped to justify a hate campaign: allegations right, wrong, or indifferent, this campaign is full of hate. By supporting it you cannot help but fortify hate.
- (Against Lauren) Nancy’s plea also placed more weight on another co-defendant, Lauren, her daughter. I will discuss next my beliefs of Lauren’s motivations; but certainty this plea lent validity to the charges against Lauren.
I suspect Nancy was merely looking to mitigate the incredible forces against her. I doubt she intended any of these resulting effects. Many very good people, with similar health concerns, facing charges truly not relevant to their conduct, would do the same thing to preserve quality of life and outcome. I believe the prosecution was acutely aware of these things and rejoiced at the plea of an innocent, health-challenged woman.
I believe that everything both Nancy and I did was well intended and actually quite good. It is some of the things I didn’t do, or might have done more, wherein I could have been better.
I should have pushed harder and/or protested to the point of exhaustion so I could speak to Nancy after her arrest.
It was both of our rights.
By not doing this I let Nancy down: She was faced with a terrible decision, completely without warning, and caused by me.
Nancy was innocent, but now she is being inappropriately sentenced. If she went to trial, and were convicted of the alleged crimes, she could end up dying in prison. Why might she think she could be convicted when innocent? Because she was charged, while innocent, in an absurd way, with conduct of which she was unaware.
It was my responsibility to step in, give her the data, and assure her. She had no way of predicting what would happen in such an irrational situation. From her legitimate perspective: who was I (Keith) to conduct myself in such a way that this could happen?
Of course she would plea — to save her life! If I had been better and stronger in that I believe Nancy would not have felt the necessity to plea
My lifestyle and thinking are quite different than the norm. This can bring many good things, but also intense negativity. Over a 20-year period, we had been lulled into a certain comfort. Even though there was controversy, we continued to develop and prosper. I should have continually prepared her for the potential dangers of my lifestyle especially when one of the executive board members had threatened, and ultimately caused, this type of destruction.
In our community we study the nature of accountability as a balance of responsibility and authority. If there is too much authority without responsibility then there is no accountability (people blame others). If there is too much responsibility and not enough authority then the person does not have the resources to do the job. I indirectly gave Nancy extra responsibility without the matching authority for her needs.By not informing and connecting with Nancy more, this blind-sided her. I decided since the sorority was forming and changing (which happened on almost a daily basis) it was better not to try to discuss it.
I was concerned about violating confidences, and making her insecure because of the extreme nature of it. Once Lauren, her daughter, was involved, it added even more complexity and reasons to not discuss its workings. Additionally, some of the founding sisters did not want Nancy to know. Nancy knew superficially of the existence of the group, but she knew little of its nature or its extent. Both before and after her arrest, I put her in the impossible situation of having more responsibility than authority — she could not do the necessary things to succeed. In the case of her plea, she did not have the information needed to handle the situation, and her attorneys, differently; and
I should have not trusted people as easily, and been so accessible to them, to put her at risk. To trust someone is to believe you know how they will act. It is not necessarily the people I trusted were bad (although some might have been). It is a problem with me that I believed I understood their morality and behavior better than I did and I did not test them enough for whatever place I had hoped they would fill. It is easy to blame another by saying, “l shouldn’t have trusted them.” Even if it is true, and that other person made direct representations — maybe even knew he or she might not come through — I was the one who granted the trust and relied upon them. Ultimately it is my failing. It is possible the other person was perfectly clear and I misunderstood, or deceptive and I misjudged, either way it is me who decided and acted on that decision
I wrote an essay about this which I intended to release generally, but read to the 20+ people visiting my family and me, right before my kidnapping.