On Thursday, September 16th, Nancy Salzman’s attorney David Stern filed notice that his client intends to appeal her sentence.
Salzman was sentenced on September 8th by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis to 42 months for her conviction of one count of racketeering conspiracy.
In addition to filing notice of appeal of her sentence, Salzman asked Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis to recommend to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that she be permitted to serve her sentence at Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Danbury in Connecticut, a low to minimum security prison.
Her attorney wrote, “This letter is respectfully submitted seeking a recommendation from the Court to the Bureau of Prisons that Ms. Salzman serve her sentence at FCI Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut, so that Ms. Salzman can be close to her family in Albany and New Jersey. FCI Danbury is the closest correctional facility to that area that houses female inmates.”
The judge approved her request on Friday.
While federal judges do not determine the placement or designation of prisoners, the BOP, as an agency of the US Department of Justice, will certainly factor in the judge’s recommendation.
They will do this in part because it is assumed that the trial judge is knowledgeable about the character and propensities of the defendant, and has a desired input on the measure of punishment imposed by the BOP since he set the punishment and perhaps most significantly, the prosecutors from the DOJ, under which the BOP is managed, will be before this judge numerous times, seeking favorable rulings.
If the BOP did not approve the recommendation, it could conceivably be inviting a less congenial relationship with prosecutors.
According to attorney Alan Ellis, author of Federal Prison Guidebook, “Bureau statistics show that approximately 85 percent of the cases in which the defendant qualifies for the institution recommended by the judge, the court’s recommendation is honored.”
It is of course worth noting that the Bureau of Prison maintains statistics on the percentage of placing defendants where the judge recommends.
When sentencing Salzman, Judge Garaufis gave her four months to report to prison, citing her pressing obligation to care for her 90 plus year-old mother.
Salzman told the judge that she was the sole caretaker for her ailing mother, who lost her husband the month before.
The judge told Salzman that if she needed more time to make arrangements for her mother’s care, to let the court know.
He also ordered that Salzman remain on home confinement as she has for the past three years since shortly after her arrest on July 23, 2018.
With the combination of an appeal of her sentence and the hardship of her mother, plus her own health conditions, it is possible that Salzman might stay out of prison altogether.
Salzman, who suffered from breast cancer, resulting in two radical mastectomies, will likely ask the court to stay her sentence pending the appeal, her mother’s care and her own health needs.
The judge could postpone, or convert her sentence to home confinement or probation only.
If she does ultimately go to Danbury, located in southwestern Connecticut, she will either go to the low-security prison and be assigned to a prison cell or the minimum-security camp. If she gets the prison, she will join approximately 150 other women. Should she be placed in the camp, about 50 women will be her companions in a setting in an open dormitory setting.
Danbury also houses about 800 male inmates, who are segregated from the women.
In the past, Danbury housed high-profile inmates such as American retail businesswoman Martha Stewart, Grammy winner Lauryn Hill, Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice, and real estate investor Leona Helmsley.
It is also the prison where Piper Kerman served her sentence for money laundering. She wrote a book “Orange is the New Black,” and it is now a Netflix series.
For 20 years, Salzman was the president of NXIVM, a purported self-help group in Albany, widely called a “cult,” and had the title of “Prefect” within the organization. She was widely viewed as the second-in-command to NXIVM co-founder Keith Raniere, who is serving a 120-year-sentence.
In the wake of revelations about a secret women’s group called DOS, a federal criminal investigation into Raniere and his associates began, leading to Raniere being apprehended in Mexico in March 2018.
Salzman, along with Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman, Smallville actress Allison Mack, her daughter Lauren Salzman, and NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell were indicted as co-defendants on various charges.
Bronfman was sentenced in September 2020 to 81 months and is now serving her sentence at FDC Philadelphia.
Mack was sentenced in June 2021 to 36 months and began serving her sentence at FCI Dublin on Monday.
Raniere was sentenced in October 2020 and is serving his 120-year sentence at USP Tucson.
Lauren Salzman, who was a cooperating witness who testified against Raniere at his trial, was given probation.
The prosecution in their sentencing memorandum recommended to the judge that he sentence Lauren leniently, writing, “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.”
Russell is scheduled to be sentenced on October 6th.
In her allocution to the court, Nancy Salzman described that she participated in criminal objectives including “illegal invasions of privacy against perceived critics,” “computer hacking… and other acts of improper prying,” and “to have others alter videotapes … we were required to turn over to our adversaries” in a civil case.
In Salzman’s sentencing memorandum, her attorney argued that “no legitimate sentencing goal will be served by imposing a prison sentence,” and that Salzman, being a 66-year-old woman “with serious health problems and pressing obligations to her ill and elderly parent” poses no danger to the public.
Unlike her daughter, who gave criminal evidence against her, Nancy Salzman did not provide criminal evidence against her daughter.
The prosecution recommended a harsh sentence for Salzman, asking the judge to sentence her at the upper range of the sentencing guidelines, which the judge did, handing her a 42 month sentence, which was one month more than the DOJ prosecutors asked for.
Salzman’s primary defense of her criminal conduct was that Raniere made her do it.
Despite her being six years older and the actual owner and president of NXIVM, she described her regrettable and illegal actions on her misguided faith and the coercive control of Raniere.
In her sentencing memorandum, Salzman’s attorneys wrote of her and Raniere, “Nancy Salzman is a 66 year old woman who for the most of the past twenty years has been fooled, controlled, humiliated, and ultimately led to engage in criminal conduct by an egotistical, self-important, sex fiend who told all who would listen about his (fake) solution for mankind’s problems.”