It has been now two years since the four as-yet-to-be-sentenced NXIVM defendants pleaded guilty. Dates have been set in the past, but for various reasons, including COVID 19, the court postponed them.
That may change soon. According to a report in the New York Law Journal, the first jury trial of the year in the Eastern District of New York is set to start Monday, April 12, “Amid Precautions.”
What this means is that the court is opening up – and that Nancy and Lauren Salzman, Kathy Russell and Allison Mack will be sentenced soon, perhaps by the end of May.
Since none of the charges they pleaded to come with minimum sentences, they are facing sentences from zero to the maximum.
For Mack and Lauren Salzman, the maxi is 40 years [They each have two counts: racketeering and racketeering conspiracy – each of which has a 20-year max that could run consecutively]. Nancy pleaded to one count of racketeering conspiracy, with a20 years max.
Russell faces up to 10 years.
Of course, the federal sentencing guidelines for their crimes and past records are far lower than the maximum sentence, but Judge Nicholas Garaufis has already demonstrated that in the NXIVM case, he is not bound by guidelines.
He sentenced Clare Bronfman to triple the sentencing guidelines because he perceived she was willfully blind about Raniere’s true nature, which he thinks is a blend, I gather from the judge’s statements, of cupidity, rascality, villainy, incorrigibility, immorality, degeneracy and an egregiously concupiscent and vilely, ignoble personality – and because she refused to disavow him.
The plea deals of Mack and Lauren Salzman included cooperation agreements where they flatly disavowed Raniere. This might prompt the prosecution to recommend leniency for these two.
In Lauren’s case, she testified at his trial and the judge ruled that she was nearing hysteria and a breakdown and stopped the cross-examination. If he thinks Lauren deserves forgiveness and mercy, he will likely sentence her accordingly.
Mack is more problematic. Her side of the story was never told. She did not testify, and two of the witnesses at trial, Nicole and Jessica Joan, had some pretty damning things to say about her, to which she could not defend or rebut since she was not on trial. She may say she learned her lesson but the witnesses made her look like a monster.
Lauren, I predict, is more likely to get a lenient sentence than Mack, but both have a chance to persuade the judge they are truly reformed [i.e., they disavow Raniere].
If the judge’s sentencing of Clare Bronfman is any indicator, both women will do well to decry their former lover and admit they now realize they were wrong to follow him and that he is, of course, a scoundrel of the lowest order, something that they now know despite the fact that they once thought he was the greatest man in the world.
Raniere was sentenced to 120 years by this judge if that is any hint about how he feels about him. When you consider that no one was killed, physically lost an arm or a leg or even a gall bladder and that the worst physical harm was some scarification which people do voluntarily all the time but not with his initials near their genitals, one has to think it is not a kind view Judge Garaufis has of the man who calls himself Vanguard.
Murderers, rapists, robbers who robbed at gunpoint and shot their victims, persons who maimed others and destroy lives forever, get lower sentences. As bad as some of the victims had it psychologically, there is none who cannot recover their life over time. [Frank Report wishes that all of them do sooner rather than later if they have not done so already.]
I am not saying that Raniere’s 120-year sentence is wrong or right, but I am saying that the judge sees a kind of evil in Raniere that is far worse than the crimes of which he was convicted might suggest.
When it comes to sentencing, statements the defendants say that shine a bad light on Raniere will be potentially helpful since they know the judge thinks he is a rotten and despicable character, a critter without an ounce of manliness, a cowardly criminal who took advantage of women and girls to the degree that he should never see freedom again.
Should Allison get up there at sentencing and say, “While I know Keith did wrong, there was a side of Keith that was well-intended and though we did evil, he is not pure evil, and neither am I” – which is probably the truth of what she feels – she risks years of her life in prison.
If she says, “Keith is pure evil, and he led me to do the terrible things that I did and now as a woman, I realize I was 100 percent wrong to listen to him and participate in his horrible criminal enterprise” – which is probably not exactly how she feels – she has a better chance at leniency.
What would you do?
Nancy Salzman, on the other hand, is smart enough to disavow Keith in glowing language and will mince no words denouncing him and telling the judge how she was deceived for years by this purely evil man.
The problem is it is not true. She was not deceived. She knew the rascal and what he was up to all along. She made it possible for him to do whatever he did do, good or bad.
The judge might realize that she, like Clare Bronfman, was one of the linchpins of the organization – and that without her, there would have been no NXIVM, and hand her a harsher sentence than her daughter.
As for Kathy Russell, she has not said a word about Raniere, good or bad, since taking her plea deal. She has the lightest charges and, in a merciful world – as a small player in the greater Nxivm world – she should not be imprisoned, in my opinion. That is, however, up to the judge to decide. It may depend on whether Kathy actually denounces Raniere at her sentencing or avoids talking about him and merely apologizes for her own specific crimes.
This may be the most interesting bet of all – will Kathy denounce her Vanguard?
In the case of Lauren Salzman, the judge stopped her cross-examination after she started crying, an issue that will be raised on Raniere’s appeal. To sentence her too harshly suggests the judge did not believe her tears.
I predict, two to four years for Lauren, 5 to 7 for Allison, 5 to 9 for Nancy, and for Kathy, 1-3 years.
If I were the judge, my sentences would likely be probation for all. Not that they did not do wrong but Nancy is ailing, Lauren and Allison have been on home arrest for three years and their crimes of conviction do not warrant further punishment. Kathy was haplessly caught up in a group she believed in and obeyed Raniere because he told her to do so, without the intent to harm others.
I doubt that any of these women, except perhaps Nancy, would have been criminals on their own. They were led by a master who placed them in harm’s way when it all could have been easily avoided.
With a felony record and a great deal of notoriety, I doubt that these women are much of a risk to society. I am pretty sure some probation conditions prohibiting certain conduct – like providing therapy services or forming self-help, or life coaching companies or operating MLMs, or joining any sororities led by a man, and no more naked pictures – should keep society safe.
If deterrence is a potent argument for prison time, then sentence them each to one year and a day – so the judge can say they all went to prison – then let them loose, sadder but wiser, to go and sin no more.