The last of the NXIVM defendants has just been scheduled for sentencing.
Here is Judge Nicholas Garaufis’s order:
ORDER: Defendant Kathy Russell’s sentencing hearing is SCHEDULED for Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. The court DIRECTS the parties to adhere to the following schedule with respect to their sentencing submissions: the Government shall submit its sentencing submission by Wednesday, September 22, 2021, and Ms. Russell shall submit her sentencing submission by Wednesday, September 29, 2021. The Government shall submit any Victim Impact Statements by Monday, September 27, 2021 and shall inform the court whether any victims wish to speak at the sentencing hearing by Friday, October 1, 2021. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 9/9/2021. (Kelly, Sean)
Russell was arrested on July 23, 2018, when a second indictment was unsealed, adding new charges for Keith Raniere and Allison Mack – and adding our more Defendants: Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Russell.
Defendants Raniere, Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Kathy Russell, Nancy Salzman and Lauren Salzman were charged with
- racketeering conspiracy
- forced labor conspiracy
- wire fraud conspiracy
- sex trafficking conspiracy
- sex trafficking
- attempted sex trafficking
- conspiracy to commit identity theft.
After unsuccessfully trying to sever her trial, Russell pled guilty to Visa Fraud on April 19, 2019.
Russell was NXIVM’s bookkeeper and worked directly with Raniere, Nancy Salzman, and the other top people in the NXIVM organization.
The prosecution named her as one of Raniere’s Inner Circle and she was a member of Raniere’s harem.
Russell was also responsible for making the annual cash rental payments for the apartment for Camila, another woman in the harem from 2011 until Camila left New York and returned to Mexico in 2017.
When Camila’s sister, Daniela, another of Raniere’s harem, and a Mexican national, tried to get back into the USA, she was told she could not reenter legally. She undertook to renter illegally and, with the aid of Russell, they devised a plan for Daniela to go to Canada, and utilizing a dead person’s sheriff’s identification card, cross the border into the US.
Daniela testified that was Raniere’s idea. The sheriff’s card was procured by Russell.
Russell traveled to Canada to escort Daniela across the border into the U.S. Daniela told immigration authorities that she was the dead person whose ID she carried and was successful in crossing under a fake name.
Daniela returned to Raniere’s harem in Albany and at one point, she testified that Raniere wanted her and Russell to enter into a threesome. Daniela claimed she was uninterested but Russell reminded her that she owed her for the risk she took to get her into the country.
In making her guilty plea, Kathy Russell admitted to one criminal act.
On or about February 2014, I knowingly and intentionally presented a document to the United States Consulate in Mexico that contained false statements, specifically in support of a TN visa . . . [f]or Loretta Garza Davila.
I submitted the document that I knew contained materially false statements regarding Miss Garza’s job description and salary. This document, which I signed, described Miss Garza’s job title to be a management consultant at NXIVM Corporation and stated she would provide advice on strategic marketing needs of NXIVM.
While Miss Garza did perform some of the duties described in the letter, she spent most of her time developing and running a separate company called Rainbow Cultural Gardens…
I knew Miss Garza worked for Rainbow Cultural Gardens, but I submitted a letter on her behalf that intentionally omitted that fact.
I also knew that Miss Garza was not keeping the full amount of the salary listed in that letter. The letter that I submitted was required to be filed by the immigration laws.
When Russell first entered a guilty plea, the prosecution said that their estimates of her sentencing guidelines showed a ranger from six months to 18 months. As we have seen with the other defendants, the sentencing guidelines estimated by the prosecution when they were eager to lure defendants into plea deals were not terribly accurate.
We have also seen that Judge Garaufis is not terribly inclined to follow guidelines. He sentenced Clare Bronfman to triple the guidelines and granted both Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack major downward departures from their guidelines.
Mack’s guidelines were 14-17.5 years and she got three years, while Lauren Salzman had guidelines close to 10 years and got probation.
Judge Garaufis’s litmus test in sentencing seems to be whether the defendant is still under the thralldom of Raniere. Bronfman refused to disavow Raniere and got a harsher sentence for lesser charged crimes than Salzman or Mack, who both denounced Raniere.
How hard Russell denounces Raniere may be a factor in whether she gets probation or goes to prison.
As a final note, Russell probably would not have been charged at all if it was not for some bad advice she took from her attorney. She went to the grand jury –and instead of pleading the 5th on all questions or, alternatively, answering all questions with a guarantee of immunity from prosecution, she chose instead to answer some questions and take the 5th on others.
It did not turn out too well for her and in a future post, we will explain how that led to her being charged instead of avoiding charges like others of NXIVM who were in similar circumstances but had better legal representation.
Suffice it to say that Russell was by far the lowest ranking member of NXIVM to be charged.