Clare Bronfman Seeks Reduction of Sentence Based on ‘Far More Involved’ Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman Sentences

Clare Bronfman

Clare Bronfman’s attorneys have filed a supplemental brief in support of her appeal to vacate her sentence with the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

If successful, her case would be referred back to U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis with a recommendation that he re-sentence her to a more appropriate term.

In the brief, Bronfman’s attorneys, Ronald S Sullivan Jr. and Daniel R. Koffmann, argue that Judge Garuafis heaped “misdirected vengeance” in punishing Bronfman “because she has not renounced Keith Raniere.”

Bronfman was convicted of immigration and identify theft offenses, sentenced to 81 months, a fine of $500,000, forfeiture of $6 million, and restitution of $96,605.25. Her sentence of 81 months is three times the upper end of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines range calculated for her offenses by the Department of Probation.

The brief argues there is an “unwarranted” and “staggering” disparity, comparing Bronfman’s sentence to NXIVM codefendants Allison Mack, who received a sentence of 36 months, and Lauren Salzman, who received no prison time.

“Ms. Mack and Ms. Salzman were far more involved in the core conduct at issue in this case than Ms. Bronfman was,” Bronfman’s attorneys wrote.  “They were high-level members of DOS who recruited new members, devised and carried out the branding ceremony, and were active, committed participants in the conduct underlying the inflammatory allegations in this case. The district court characterized their conduct in uncommonly reproachful terms.”

Bronfman got the longest sentence, despite having the lowest Guidelines range.  The Sentencing Guidelines range for Mack was 168 to 210 months. Salzman’s Guidelines range was 87 to 108 months. Bronfman’s range was 21 to 27 months. Judge Garaufis sentenced Mack to a sentence that is 82% lower than her Guidelines range and Salzman to a sentence 100 percent lower, while sentencing Bronfman 300 percent higher.

Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack. 

“Next to Mr. Raniere, Ms. Mack and Ms. Salzman bear vastly greater culpability than any other defendant for the conduct at issue in this case,” Clare Bronfman’s attorneys wrote. Mack and Salzman pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy and cooperated with the prosecution.  Salzman testified at Raniere’s trial and Mack produced a recording of her and Raniere designing the branding ceremony

Clare Bronfman’s attorney, Ronald Sullivan, Jr., has compared the sentencing of Clare Bronfman with other defendants in the NXIVM case and claims her sentence was unjust. He has argued that even though Bronfman knew nothing about DOS, she was sentenced by the judge because she refused to denounce Keith Raniere.

“There is no principled basis for the district court’s decision to imprison Clare Bronfman for nearly seven years, Allison Mack for three years, and Lauren Salzman and [NXIVM defendant] Kathy Russell for no time at all,” Bronfman’s attorneys argued.

They argue that the disparity violates 18 US Code Section 3553(a)(6), which requires courts “to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.”

The attorneys noted in the initial appeal that other defendants, outside of the NXIVM case, with the same charges as Bronfman, received average sentences of 33 months.

“No special circumstances justified sentencing Ms. Bronfman to more than twice as much prison time as similarly situated defendants across the country, much less the active, first-line DOS ‘masters’ who were at the center of the criminal conduct alleged in this case,” Bronfman’s attorneys wrote.

They seek the Court of Appeals to direct Judge Garaufis to sentence Bronfman all over again.

“In order to do justice to Clare Bronfman and maintain the integrity of the criminal justice system,” the attorneys wrote, “this Court should vacate and remand for resentencing.”

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis

“Whatever justification may exist for the district court’s contempt for Mr. Raniere, the misdirected vengeance underlying Ms. Bronfman’s sentence cannot bear the weight needed to justify an extraordinary upward variance and a shocking disparity between her sentence and her codefendants’ and similarly situated defendants,” her attorneys wrote.


Clare Bronfman on July 25, 2018, just after her arrest and arraignment. . Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP

Kathy Russell Also Invoked

Kathy Russell got probation. Bronfman argues her role in NXIVM was more like Russell’s rather than Mack’s or Salzman’s.

The last co-defendant to be sentenced was Kathy Russell, a bookkeeper for NXIVM. She pleaded guilty to one count of visa fraud. Judge Garaufis sentenced her to no prison time, noting that Russell was a victim of Raniere and that she had renounced him.

The attorneys wrote, “Ms. Bronfman’s conduct is far closer to codefendant Kathy Russell’s than it is to anything Ms. Mack or Ms. Salzman did. Ms. Russell… like Ms. Bronfman, did not participate in or plead guilty to racketeering. Like Ms. Bronfman, Ms. Russell was a nonviolent, noncooperating, first-time offender… Yet unlike Ms. Bronfman, Ms. Russell received a sentence of no prison time, while Ms. Bronfman sits behind bars for years to come….”

Clare Bronfman with Keith Raniere. Did Clare get a longer sentence simply because she will not denounce Keith Raniere?

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Looks like Clare wasted her money with a low-budget Sullivan defense. Clare is known to be very dumb. The only defendant to send a letter to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis saying how much her silly vanguard had helped her. Probably not the sharpest knife in the millionaire heiress drawer.

    Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis had the discretion to sentence the defendants as he saw fit and within the sentencing guidelines. Clare better get used to doing the other inmates’ laundry. I predict she will serve her whole sentence. Maybe she can also get some mental help while incarcerated.

  • I would also like to believe in the goodness of protective custody. Clare lived in the Sahara once upon a time, didn’t she? I don’t mind if she asks for a more lenient sentence so long as she’s safe and can receive some education about dark personalities. They are rare, but it doesn’t mean they should be supported.

  • Novel argument. Worth a shot.

    Will be dismissed. Mostly because the judge stayed within sentencing guidelines. If he had gone far outside of them (not just a little bit but by a lot), then this might have a small chance of success. It will be given a glance by their law clerks, who are looking at dozens of similar appeals for reduced sentences, and put in the “nope” pile.

    Just in case you didn’t know, now you do – most of the wheels of justice are handled not by the judges themselves, but the clerks who are under them. In many cases, those same clerks even write the decisions and the judges just approve them. Depending on the level of trust in that clerk, chances are high they don’t even bother to read those decisions they approved. This practice is at all levels of jurisprudence, including the Supreme Court.

  • Clare’s sentence does seem harsh compared to the rest. Perhaps the judge believed she was at higher risk to re-offend and required more rehabilitation?

    After all, in the face of all the charges against her, she supposedly still believed her crimes were for the good of the world. I’m not sure it’s fair to expect Claire to completely renounce keith (she’s entitled to her feelings), but if she also were to look at the whole situation and continue to believe everything was totally okay and hunky-dory, that’s dangerous.

    It’s like the difference between a sober person who accidentally kills someone in a car accident vs a drunk driver who will get back on the road to drive drunk again.

    I say all this not really knowing exactly what Clare thinks, of course. But I can’t see any other reason than but a willful pride to stand behind this criminal who got her in so much trouble. Wasn’t there some weird thing that happened in court where she fainted because she was exposed about something she was trying to hide or something like that?

  • Seemed to me he based sentencing not only on the guidelines but also on whether each defendant:
    •helped the EDNY
    •showed remorse (letter writing apologies)
    •accepted responsibility
    •took advantage of home-time by improving your situation (i.e. school, dog grooming, non NXIVM business accounting).
    •rebuilt family relationships
    •obatined therapy

    I agree with Snorlax and Junk Food.

  • Based on the expected sentences of the crimes she was convicted of, Clare was screwed by the judge. She hadn’t been screwed like this since that one night when she wandered into the stable and the horse in-heat that she rode and jumped that day, jumped and rode her.

    • That stallion was a real bitch and never wrote a letter of support. Clare servicing horses is better than Lauren grooming dogs.

  • This judge seemed to believe that these young women were his surrogate daughters and should get off easy.

    His bias in favor of the most violent of the perpetrators was blatant and uncalled for.
    Would the Judge have taken the same lenient attitude if Mack and Salzman had branded his niece on their private parts?

    – against –
    KEITH RANIERE, et al.
    Case 1:20-cv-00485-(ERK)(SMG)

    Please withdraw the appearances of J. Bruce Maffeo, John J. Sullivan, and Nicole H.
    Sprinzen, of Cozen O’Connor, as counsel for Defendant Sara Bronfman-Igtet in the above
    captioned matter.

    Israel David, James D. Wareham, and Anne Aufhauser, of the law firm of Fried Frank
    Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP have entered their appearances as counsel for Defendant Sara
    Bronfman-Igtet [Dkt. No. 69, 80, and 81] and will continue to represent Defendant in the abovecaptioned action.
    Dated: October 18, 2021 COZEN O’CONNOR
    By: /s/ John J. Sullivan By: /s/ J. Bruce Maffeo
    John J. Sullivan J. Bruce Maffeo
    3 WTC, 175 Greenwich St., 55th Floor 3 WTC, 175 Greenwich St., 55th Floor
    New York, NY 10007 New York, NY 10007
    Telephone: 212-453-3729 Telephone: 212-883-4951
    By: /s/ Nicole H. Sprinzen
    Nicole H. Sprinzen
    1200 19th Street NW, Suite 300
    Washington, DC 20036
    Telephone: 202-471-3451
    Attorneys for Defendant Sara Bronfman-Igtet

    • In Clare’s situation you can safely say that the money she inherited was a curse.
      She wouldn’t be in jail today if she didn’t have all this money.
      She was targeted by Nancy and Keith because of her money. All the lawyers sucked on it in the criminal case. Then the prosecution and judge sucked on it (6 million and 500.000 restitution).

      Last but not least: Frank sucked on it. Apparently he negotiated 1 million in consulting fees from Clare. This is not a usual tariff for the work he was hired to do. He saw a rich dumb woman and probably thought his big break had arrived. Not unlike what Keith must have been thinking. Same with Joe O’Hara. I believe he lent money from Clare for a development project of his. Also very unusual if you are hired to do another job. All of them sucking on Clare’s dollar…….

  • Allison and (to a much greater degree) Lauren COOPERATED.

    That was left out.

    Clare’s attitude was (a) we did nothing wrong; and (b) we should be free to continue.

    Victim impact statements illuminated Clare’s path of cash-fueled destruction.

    A person can repudiate actions and still love/support the person behind them.

    Clare will resume spying, suing, and culting on a grander scale as soon as she is released.

  • In the personality contest conducted by Judge Garaufis, Clare came out the loser. Clare put herself in a position of not being likeable. Allison and Lauren were far more sympathetic characters in the judge’s court room.

  • Oh, shut up. I didn’t even read this article. None of these criminals want to take any responsibility for their actions. Clare was the mega-million dollar funding operation of NXIVM. She and her sister were the primary reason that NXIVM survived for so long; otherwise, it would’ve died well before 2010.

  • The sentencing in this case has been wildly inconsistent. Bronfman was given more prison time for relatively trivial offenses than Mack and Salzman for their far more serious crimes of racketeering and conspiracy.

    Unlike Bronfman’s attorneys, I think all these women should have been sentenced far more severely, proportionally to Raniere whose crimes they enabled and encouraged, willingly and enthusiastically for years.

    Cults don’t run themselves and neither do criminal organizations and sex trafficking rings. Nxivm/DOS was not a one-man operation and Raniere wasn’t the only one who profited.

    • I strongly agree that sentencing has been completely inconsistent in this case.

      Raniere’s sentence was punitive and not in line with established guidelines. Although I don’t like Bronfman’s role as the funder of frivolous lawsuits, she was never charged with that. Sentencing for that without trial is capricious and reckless on the part of the judge. Lauren getting no time? Like wow, she was a major lieutenant!

      The judge’s logic is completely emotional. A cute, weak and appealing female is the formula for a lighter sentence with Garaufis.

      • Didn’t Clare faint in court? Doesn’t get any more old-timey “weak female” than that tired silent film stereotype.

        Yes. Keith’s sentence was “punitive”. Prison is a punishment.

        The specter of incarceration is meant to be a deterrent.

        The goal is to stay out of prison. Because it really sucks.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

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Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083