As Frank Parlato has already reported, questions have arisen about several of the letters-of-support that were submitted on behalf of Nancy Salzman just prior to her sentencing on September 8th.
In all, 39 letters-of-support were submitted for Judge Garaufis to consider as he determined what would be an appropriate sentence for the second-in-command and the public face of the NXIVM/ESP criminal enterprise: 7 from members of Nancy’s family, 9 from a group of her friends, and 23 from former members of the NXIVM/ESP community.
Before we try to determine who was responsible for submitting so many questionable letters to the court, let’s step back and review some of the preceding events.
Other Co-Defendants Submitted Letters-of-Support
All of Nancy’s co-defendants submitted letters-of-support as part of their individual Sentencing Memorandums. And in every case, the letters were submitted with few, if any, redactions.
Some letter writers had their names redacted. And no issues were raised about that being done.
RE: Clare Bronfman
In Clare’s case, her Sentencing Memorandum included approximately 60 letters from family members, friends, former coaches, former teachers, former attorneys, people who were employed by her, and a smattering of fellow members of the NXIVM/ESP cult.
While, as I previously pointed out, many of the letters that were submitted on Clare’s behalf were not particularly helpful, her attorneys did not try to hide their contents by filing them “under seal” or by filing totally redacted versions of them.
RE: Keith Raniere
Keith Raniere’s attorneys submitted 56 letters-of-support – only a few of which had the author’s name redacted. Once again, there were a few redactions in a couple of the letters but nothing that raised any issues or objections.
RE: Allison Mack
Next up was Allison Mack whose attorneys proposed that rather than spending any time in prison, Allison simply be placed on probation or modified home confinement. In conjunction with that proposal, they submitted more than a dozen letters-of-support – all of which had the author’s name redacted and some of which had additional redactions or were filed “under seal”. Once again, no objections were raised by anyone concerning these letters-of-support.
RE: Lauren Salzman
Lauren Salzman’s attorneys filed more than two dozen letters-of-support on her behalf – almost all of which had the author’s name redacted (Many of those letters also had other sections redacted). And, once again, there was no hue and cry about any of the information that had been redacted.
And Then Along Came Nancy
When it came time for Nancy’s attorneys to file their Sentencing Memorandum, there was a lot of speculation as to what would be included in that document.
Would Nancy follow in the footsteps of Allison and Lauren – and include her own letter to Judge Garaufis (Many courtroom observers believed that those personal letters were a significant factor in the judge’s decision to give both Allison and Lauren very lenient sentences)?
And how many letters-of-support would be submitted on behalf of Nancy (Chatter on the NXIVM/ESP grapevine indicated that Nancy had been pushing very hard to get more letters-of-support than any of her co-defendants had submitted)?
At long last, August 30th arrived – the deadline that Judge Garaufis had set for the filing of Nancy’s Sentencing Memorandum.
And then…nothing happened.
Or at least nothing showed up on PACER.
Not on August 30th, not on August 31st, not on September 1st, and not on September 2nd.
It wasn’t until September 3rd that we first got an inkling as to what was going on.
As it turns out, Nancy’s attorneys had, in fact, filed her Sentencing Memorandum on August 30th.
They had just filed it “under seal” without asking for permission to do so.
On September 3rd, Nancy’s attorneys sent a letter to Judge Garaufis asking for permission to file a corrected version of their Sentencing Memorandum. As they explained in that letter, the corrections would allow them to rectify formatting errors in the original filing, to correct a typographical error, and to add one additional letter-of-support from one of her family members.
Once it became known that Nancy’s attorneys were trying to prevent her victims – and the general public – from finding out what was in her Sentencing Memorandum, there was an immediate backlash and protest.
Representatives of several news organizations – including Frank Report – wrote to Judge Garaufis to request that he order her attorneys to openly re-file her Sentencing Memorandum so that it could be viewed by anyone who had access to PACER.
And on September 6th – which just happened to be Labor Day – Judge Garaufis did, in fact, issue a sua sponte order in which he directed Nancy’s attorneys to file a redacted version of her Sentencing Memorandum by 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, September 7th.
But Nancy and her attorneys were not yet finished in their attempt to keep her victims – and the general public – from finding out what was in her Sentencing Memorandum.
So, in addition to making appropriate redactions concerning any mention of the medical-related issues that Nancy had been dealing with for the past few months, they also fully redacted all her letters-of-support when they re-filed her Sentencing Memorandum on September 7th.
Given that she was scheduled to be sentenced on September 8th, Nancy and her attorneys were probably quite pleased with themselves – and thought that they had outsmarted Judge Garaufis by fully redacting all her letters-of-support in their September 7th filing.
But, as the saying goes, this was not Judge Garaufis’ first rodeo – and so, after sentencing Nancy to 42 months in federal prison, he issued another sua sponte order in which he directed Nancy and her attorneys to explain the “legal rationale” for each redaction in their September 7th filing.
In response to Judge Garaufis’ order, Robert Soloway, one of the team of attorneys representing the former Prefect, explained that they had redacted all her letters-of-support in order to protect “…the privacy rights of innocent third parties who have come forward to support Ms. Salzman, but who wish their support to remain outside the public domain to prevent injury to their commercial interests and livelihoods, and to also avoid vexatious publicity and public scorn if their statements become public”.
Soloway went on to claim that the authors of the letters-of-support “…would suffer avoidable injury were their statements and identities revealed” – and noted how important it was that the names of the authors not be published in Frank Report:
“In this case, many of those who wrote letters on behalf of Ms. Salzman did so fearfully, not because of any reluctance whatsoever to support her, but because of the scandalous, hurtful uses to which their sentiments, if made public, would likely be put. As this Court is aware, the Frank Report weaponizes statements made in support of the Nxivm defendants, and exists for virtually no purpose other than to damage the reputation and fortunes of remaining “loyalists.” Revealing the identities and supportive views memorialized in letters to the Court will add little to the record that has not already been stated publicly by the Court and counsel, and will potentially result in harm to those whose aim was to furnish the Court with firsthand information about Ms. Salzman to facilitate a fully informed sentencing proceeding”.
Notwithstanding this emotional plea from Soloway, Judge Garaufis ordered that Nancy and her attorneys “…file a public version of her sentencing memorandum and supporting exhibits, with the exception of references to medical conditions, which will remain redacted, by Wednesday, October 6, 2021, at 12 pm.”
So, Who Deserves Credit for This Filing Fiasco: Nancy Salzman, Her Attorneys, or All of the Above?
The attempt to outsmart Judge Garaufis – and to keep Nancy’s victims and the general public from finding out who wrote letters-of-support on her behalf – is right out of the NXIVM/ESP playbook on litigation strategy.
But Soloway – and his colleagues at Rothman, Schneider, Soloway & Stern, LLP – also deserve credit/blame for the fiasco that developed with regard to the filing of Nancy’s Sentencing Memorandum.
Several individuals who supposedly authored a letter-of-support on behalf of Nancy have already come forward and indicated that the letter attributed to them was not written in conjunction with her sentencing – and that they had not authorized their letter to be used for that purpose.
Other letters – the most notable of which is the one authored by Jack Levy on March 13th, 2014, which just happens to be more than four years before Keith Raniere and his five co-defendants were arrested and Judge Garaufis was assigned to preside over their case – were dated years before Nancy’s sentencing hearing.
And still other letters appear to have been written as a general tribute to Nancy (which was a common practice in NXIVM/ESP) – or altered to make it appear as though they were addressed to Judge Garaufis.
As more and more questions arise as to the authenticity of many of Nancy’s letters-of-support, it seems inevitable that Judge Garaufis is going to initiate some sort of action to find out exactly who is responsible for this fiasco.
Was it Nancy’s idea to file what amount to be falsified documents – which just happens to be one of the crimes she admitted committing in conjunction with her guilty plea?
Or was it Soloway and his colleagues who thought they could pull a fast-one on judge they consider past his prime?
Either way, it looks to me like all these ass-clowns “got some splainin to do”.
If/as time permits, it will be interesting to go back and look at several more aspects of Nancy’s letters-of-support. This would include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following topics:
- Why did Nancy not get a letter-of-support from her sister and her brother-in-law?
- How was Nancy’s mother – who supposedly needs 24/7 care – able to write such a lucid letter on behalf of her daughter?
- Where did Nancy get the money to help out Lauren financially (Nancy has not had any known source of income for more than 3½ years)?
- How was Nancy able to provide so much care for her recently deceased father and her mother when court records indicate that she only visited them a few times after she was placed on home confinement back in July 2018?
- Why was Nancy only able to get 23 letters of support from former NXIVM/ESP members (Given that she claims that the organization provided training sessions to 17,000 individuals that’s a pretty paltry percentage: i.e., .14% to be exact)?