Allison Mack turned 39 yesterday, July 29th, just a day after she learned that her fellow DOS founding sister, and senior-to-her in the NXIVM hierarchy, Lauren Salzman, got probation for the same charges to which Allion pleaded guilty: racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.
Mack got three years in prison.
To date, we have Keith Raniere with 120 years.
Clare Bronfman with 6.75 years [triple the sentencing guideline]
Mack with three years [about 20 percent of her sentencing guidelines of 14.5-17 years].
Salzman got probation [in lieu of sentencing guidelines of around 8 years]
While Salzman, 45, can breathe easy, and continue to develop her dog-grooming business – or even switch careers yet again – since there is nothing in the terms of her probation that require the lady to continue in that low-paying field, Mack is preparing for prison. She reports to whatever prison she is assigned to at the end of September.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis asked the Bureau of Prisons to assign Mack to a California prison near to her family’s home in Orange County, something I think will likely be honored by the BOP.
It is perhaps unfair that Mack got prison while the much more high-ranking Salzman got only probation, but that is the nature of the system – the judge has enormous discretion in sentencing.
There are many arguments to be made that if Salzman got probation, Mack should have gotten the same. It is possible that Mack might, based on Salzman’s sentence of probation for similar conduct, appeal her sentence based on disparity of sentencing.
While I am no expert, I doubt this is likely since the sentence Mack got was far lower than her sentencing guidelines suggested – and it is clearly within the judge’s discretion to give Salzman probation and Mack three years.
I find it hard to conceive of a scenario where the appellate judges at the Second Circuit would want to overturn that sentence, adopting the position that the judged erred in some substantive way, instead of presuming he had a better understanding of what was appropriate for each defendant based on his considerable experience, knowledge as the trial judge, and the consequent deliberations on the rightness of each woman’s sentencing.
Why the Difference
Perhaps the signal difference between the two women’s sentences were that Salzman committed a serious criminal act in assisting in the confinement of Daniela – and that she knew far more about Keith Raniere’s history, having been with him some 20 years.
Mack, however, had a more virulent group of victims who wanted her punished. Salzman’s victims, for the most part, wanted leniency for her.
It seems that Mack also pushed a lot harder for her slaves to have sex with Raniere or to at least perform a seduction assignment with him. But both women recruited women as slaves, rabidly took collateral, and some of the women they recruited were branded.
If I recall correctly, Salzman recruited six women and Mack recruited four – and one of Allison’s slaves, India, recruited Jessica who recruited someone else – making a total of six slaves.
About half or a little more were branded. All gave collateral.
The other big difference is that Salzman was utilized by the prosecution and the judge got to see her as she testified for several days.
He saw her up close and heard her voice for hours as she told her story – a tale of victimization far more than perpetration. He heard her cry several times on the witness stand and, finally, when she was cross-examined and she broke down in tears when asked if she thought she had criminal intent, she burst the boundaries of her previous crying and appeared to be approaching a full breakdown.
The judge – whether right or wrong – stopped the cross-examination. It is now an issue on appeal.
Her tears, it seemed, moved him to invoke a very primal instinct – the desire of a man to protect a woman.
And he already invested in protecting her, protected her again by sparing her prison. I am not suggesting for one instant that any of this behavior was wrong – for it is well within his discretion to do all these things – except perhaps the suspending of the cross-examination.
Mack Did Not Get Close to the Judge
Mack did not appear in real-time at the trial as Salzman did for days – seated near the judge on the witness stand. The judge’s only contact with Mack was during brief hearings when she would usually fly in from California and where her lawyers did the talking for her.
The only personal interchange I remember is when Mack’s attorneys requested a brief restroom break for her – and if I recall correctly, the judge in granting it quipped to her, “Didn’t I see you in the café earlier drinking coffee?”
That was the same day when Allison was overheard by a Frank Report correspondent, in the restroom, saying, in response to someone also there who said, “Thanks for getting us the restroom break, I really needed it,” “I’m good at taking one for the team.”
Then We Had the Trial
While Salzman was physically present during her testimony and the prosecution, therefore, was careful not to elicit not too much brutal conduct testimony about Salzman from other witnesses – since Salzman was their star cooperating witness and they wanted the jury to be sympathetic towards her – much of the trial featured a virtual shit show of bad acts about Mack in order to hammer Raniere.
Mark Vicente, Nicole, and Jessica Joan lambasted Mack, portraying her as a zealot with a mean streak, and a view of her which is not how most who know Mack describe her. In addition, we had India Oxenberg, who, though she did not appear as a witness at trial, made a docuseries that certainly did not help Mack’s public image. That – and Vicente’s the Vow – combined to make Mack most villainous – which is something perhaps she deserved or maybe not.
Mack was high profile and attractive –and sympathetic women publicly condemned her as horrific.
Salzman was lower profile and her victims also kept a lower profile – with the exception of Sarah Edmondson, who, ultimately, weighed in to forgive Lauren and ask the judge for leniency for her.
Conversely, Jessica Joan appeared at Mack’s sentencing and called her a monster.
Mack, it seems, almost had to get a prison sentence based on the concept of deterrence. The public knew she was accused of sex trafficking and for her to get probation would have been quite a scandal.
As it was, there were many who condemned the shortness of the sentence of Mack, but few who spoke against the probation of Lauren Salzman. This may be understandable.
Mack is important, while Salzman not – at least not to the public.
[Yet in NXIVM-world – Salzman was important, probably third or fourth in command, and Mack was not – except for recruitment purposes. In NXIVM, there were literally dozens of women who ranked higher than her.]
At their respective sentencing hearings, dozens of reporters swarmed the courthouse to cover Mack. Only a handful was there for Salzman.
There was no hue and cry to crucify Salzman. There was for Mack.
That, more than anything, might explain why two women – who appeared to be equally guilty, and equally victims, or equally both – got such disparate sentences. And they are disparate – for one is going to prison and the other was spared – and that is a huge difference – and a difference that I, for one, do not entirely see in their conduct.
Or even in their efforts at change subsequent to their arrest. Lauren became a dog groomer – and Mack went to college and worked as a caterer.
There is one more thing, something the prosecution said, that rankles me – and perhaps it is something that Salzman takes the cake for – but it was the prosecution who took the trouble to mention it as they recommended a lower sentence for Salsman.
“Lauren Salzman provided extraordinary assistance to the government’s investigation and prosecution of this case. She met with the government on dozens of occasions, both in proffers and in preparation for trial testimony, and answered all the government’s questions, including questions about crimes she committed, as well as criminal activity engaged in by her close friends and family members, including her mother.”
It is the last part of the government’s statement – that Lauren informed on “criminal activity engaged in by her close friends and family members, including her mother” – that stands out in my mind. Not so much that she did it – but that the prosecution would see this as admirable. To inform on your close friends, family members, and your mother.
The prosecution need not have added the last. They could have said she answered all questions about crimes she committed and that Raniere committed – or that she was extraordinarily forthcoming – but they also included the fact that she informed on her close friends, her family [.i.e. her sister and brother-in-law], and her mother. That this could be considered something praiseworthy is a bit jarring to me.
It smells of a woman who would sacrifice anything or anyone to save the most important thing in her life. It may not be true. Maybe her mother was OK with it, but it is bizarre that the prosecution should consider this worthy of note – and laud it or think that it would help her.
Judge Garaufis said of Raniere, “I’m just a local guy here in Brooklyn. But you’ve got a 14-year-old child who’s never been supported by his father who has been busy working the commodities markets for tens of millions of dollars and can’t find it in his heart to send a few bucks to his child. Why should anyone look upon that person as someone who is worthy of respect?”
To paraphrase the judge, I’m just a guy from Buffalo, but as for a woman who would inform on her close friends, her sister and her mother – why should anyone look upon that person as someone who is worthy of respect?