On June 30, 2021, Allison Mack had her sentencing hearing. Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis was presiding.
Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar was there for the prosecution. Along with her, seated at the prosecution’s table were FBI Special Agents Michael Weniger and Michael Lever and Jennifer Fisher of the United States Probation Department.
At the defense table were Mack’s attorneys, Sean Buckley, William McGovern and Matthew Menchel and Mack, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy in April 2019.
The judge opened the proceedings by giving a rundown of what he used to calculate her sentencing — everything except what was to be said before him at this hearing. From what he concluded, Mack’s offenses, according to Federal Sentencing Guidelines, should land her in prison for 14-17.5 years.
After these two, it was time for the prosecution to tell the judge what they thought Allison Mack and society needed to right the wrongs that she had done.
The prosecution, that is the US Dept. of Justice, is fond of referring to itself as the “government.” And, in effect, they are the government – in most cases, they are judge, jury and prosecutor – since few cases go to trial.
I prefer to call them by their rightful name – the prosecution. For that is what they do — they prosecute. They don’t govern and words are important.
AUSA Tanya Hajjar spoke for the prosecution. She said:
“Thank you, Your Honor. I know the Court is well aware of the seriousness of the offense conduct in this case as well as the harm caused by the defendant to the victims, including those present today and those who submitted victim impact statements to the Court.
“The government’s sentencing letter described Ms. Mack’s cooperation with the government and I want to emphasize the significance of cooperation in a case like this.
“As Your Honor knows, DOS was a criminal organization that operated, by its very nature, in secrecy. DOS members were forbidden to discuss the operation of the group and Raniere’s role as the head of the organization was concealed to all but the few that he directly recruited. For this reason, information about the meetings and conversations between Raniere and the first line of DOS, including Ms. Mack, were very significant to the government’s investigation and prosecution.
“Ms. Mack accepted responsibility in this case by pleading guilty and she chose to cooperate by contributing her knowledge of the crimes that she engaged in and to assist the government in holding Raniere and others accountable for their crimes.
“The government did not call upon Ms. Mack to testify at trial, though she was prepared to do so if called, but Ms. Mack did provide law enforcement with information, material and recordings which proved to be crucial evidence at trial, evidence which confirmed Raniere’s role in DOS.
“And just as the Court must take into account the seriousness of the crimes and the need for deterrence in this case, the government submits the Court should also take into account Ms. Mack’s cooperation and the value of that cooperation in imposing a sentence and for these reasons, the government [i.e the prosecution] requests that the Court impose a sentence below the applicable Guidelines range.
“Thank you, Your Honor.”
Short and sweet. It was all about Mack’s cooperation, and only a sentence on the seriousness of her crimes – and that too only to mention they were serious – without retelling what those crimes were in any detail.
The oral statement by the prosecution at her sentencing had none of the lukewarm support the prosecution gave in their written sentencing memo – of how her cooperation was helpful but would have been a lot more helpful if she had acted sooner etc. and how serious were her crimes – told at length.
The government –as they like to be called – and prosecutor Tanya Hajjar — showed a streak of humanity, something not always seen in prosecutors. They lent their voice for leniency.
Yes, Mack helped the prosecution — I do not think quite as much as they played it out to be – but she helped put Raniere away.
It was perhaps generous embellishment that Hajjar made before the judge, the kind that hurts no one and maybe helps. She said Mack helped out quite a bit.
Judge Nicholas G. GaraufisThe judge took it all into consideration and gave her three years – which showed not only that sentencing guidelines aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on – but that the judge tempered justice with mercy, something that requires a delicate, balancing act — and, in the end, is perhaps the only reason to have judges – to weigh those two awful, splendid things – a sentence given in the present that takes into consideration justice to atone for the past, and mercy to loan to the future.