Someone posted the following comment concerning the post Bronfman Appeal: Never in DOS, While Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman Were ‘Elbow Deep in DOS’, and Got Lighter Sentences: “She got 7 years for being a mean S.O.B. Payback from Garaufis for the victims of Raniere? I have no love for Clare Bronfman, but the sentence appears highly vindictive.”
And it’s true. Clare Bronfman did get sentenced for crimes she was not charged with – and crimes she did not plead guilty to.
Here is what K.R. Claviger, our legal correspondent, had to say:
I think I explained this at the time Clare was sentenced but now that she’s moved forward with her appeal, it’s probably time to explain it again.
When a defendant in a federal criminal case chooses to enter into a plea agreement, there are three options for them and their attorney to consider:
(1) Charge Agreements: This type of plea deal requires the defendant to plead guilty to a crime/crimes that is/are less serious than the one(s) they were charged with.
(2) Sentence Agreements: This type of plea deal requires the defendant to plead guilty to the original charge(s) but in exchange for that plea, the prosecutor will agree to a lesser sentence than the defendant could have received had they gone to trial and been found guilty (The agreed upon sentence must be approved by the presiding judge).
(3) Count Charge Agreements: This type of plea deal – which is utilized when a defendant in facing multiple charges – requires the defendant to plead guilty to some of the original charges (The other charges are dismissed).
Had Clare wanted to be sure that she would only spend a certain amount of time in prison, she and her attorney, Mark Geragos, should have proposed a Sentence Agreement to the prosecution. Had they done so, Judge Garaufis would only have two options: i.e., accept the Sentence Agreement and sentence Clare to the agreed upon time in prison – or reject the Sentence Agreement and schedule Clare’s trial.
All plea deals must be approved by the presiding judge (Judge Garaufis held a separate plea hearing for Nancy, Lauren, Allison, Clare, and Kathy — all of whom chose to take Charge Agreements or Count Charge Agreements). As a result, all five of them agreed to be sentenced to whatever punishment the judge thought was appropriate in their case.
I don’t know:
(a) whether Mark Geragos explained all this to Clare;
(b) whether the prosecution would have agreed to a Sentence Agreement deal; or
(c) whether Judge Garaufis would have approved a proposed Sentence Agreement (Given that Clare had agreed to forfeit $6 million in lieu of being liable for restitution and spend up to 27 months in federal prison, I’m inclined to think the prosecution and the judge would have gone along with some sort of Sentence Agreement). But I do know that I would never allow a federal defendant to take any type of plea deal before I explained all of this to them.
By Frank Parlato:
Clare Bronfman hired one of the most expensive and well-known attorneys in the USA, Mark Geragos. It appeared initially that he procured a great plea deal — with sentencing guidelines of 21-27 months. But it turned out to be not so good a deal at all.
Federal sentencing guidelines are no longer mandatory but merely advisory and she wound up being sentenced for triple the top-end of the guidelines – 81 months. The lesson from this is that a plea deal with an open-ended sentence can wind up with an upward departure like Clare Bronfman got — or a downward departure like Allison Mack [3 years], Lauren Salzman [probation] and Kathy Russell [probation] got.
Nancy Salzman got 41 months which is in line with the guidelines and, as of today, she still is listed as being a resident of USP Hazelton in West Virginia, a much higher security prison than her original assignment at the women’s camp at Alderson, West Virginia.
As for Keith Raniere, who got a 120-year sentence, it is hardly relevant. His guidelines called for a life sentence. For various reasons, Judge Garaufis sentenced him for each of his crimes of conviction – and had the applicable sentences run consecutively instead of concurrently. That’s how Raniere ended up with a 120-year sentence – plus 5 years of post-release probation.
Raniere has 99 years left to serve. He is 61. That will make him almost 160 years old when he finishes his sentence on June 27, 2120.
The likelihood of him serving his entire sentence therefore is rather remote.
Now, I know Suneel will likely misread this to mean that I think Raniere will be set free on a Rule 33 motion because of new evidence that Suneel has uncovered.
Viva Executive Success!
PS: Diane Lipson, our correspondent for the NXIVM trial wrote, “This is a little off-topic to the post – I hope Ms. Bronfman is getting more than 500 calories a day where she is. When I saw her in court, she was so thin that if she closed one eye she looked like a needle.”
From what I heard, Diane, Clare remains very thin and is not faring well on the prison food diet. She is a vegan and I understand she is steadfast in keeping to it. She has been suffering quite a bit physically and from what I gather, she continues to eat very sparingly. I would not be surprised if her caloric count was in the 500-800/day category.
At the Philadelphia Detention Center where Clare is serving her sentence, it is very difficult for any inmate to maintain their health. Indeed, the conditions there almost ensure the exact opposite.
This is curious since almost everyone at the Philadelphia Detention Center is an innocent-until-proven-guilty defendant awaiting trial (There are a few others who have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing – and a group of cadre prisoners like Clare). There conditions are worse than a maximum-security prison and the question has been posed – is it deliberate? Are the harsher conditions for a defendant while awaiting trial than what he or she would get if they took a plea deal and went to a low, medium or even max security prison just another technique in the coercive plea-bargaining scheme?