Sep 30, 2019

Sentencing dates set for two NXIVM figures

Clare Bronfman, Kathy Russell will appear before judge in January

ALBANY — Two NXIVM defendants will be sentenced in January, though it remains unclear when Keith Raniere, the cult-like organization's co-founder, will learn his fate.

Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on Thursday set Jan. 8 as the sentencing date for Clare Bronfman, the heir to the Seagram's fortune who served as NXIVM's operations director and was a member of its board.

Bronfman pleaded guilty on April 19 to two felonies: conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification. She faces between 21 and 27 months in prison, and has agreed to forfeit $6 million.

On Friday, Garaufis ordered that the sentencing of NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell will be held on Jan. 29. On the same day Bronfman made her plea, Russell pleaded guilty to a single count of visa fraud related to a letter she wrote that included bogus data about a NXIVM associate. She faces between six and 12 months in prison, though the judge has discretion to sentence her to less or no prison time.

Both sentencings will be held in Garaufis' courtroom in Brooklyn, where 59-year-old Raniere was convicted June 19 of all counts against him following a six-week trial.

He faces the possibility of life in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking, forced labor and wire fraud conspiracy as well as racketeering charges that included underlying acts of child pornography, sexual exploitation of a child, identity theft and extortion.

His sentencing was initially set for Sept. 25, but was postponed indefinitely to allow federal probation officials sufficient time to conduct pre-sentencing investigations. Probation officers interview convicted defendants and prepare a report for the judge.

Allison Mack and Lauren Salzman, both former high-ranking NXIVM members and sexual partners of Raniere who belonged to his "master/slave" group, were to be sentenced on Sept. 11, but those dates were adjourned as well to allow time to complete pre-sentencing reports.

Mack and Salzman — both "first-line slaves" who answered directly to Raniere in the secretive group known as Dominus Obsequious Sororium — pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges prior to Raniere's trial. Both women lived in Halfmoon with Raniere, who was known within NXIVM as "Vanguard."

Salzman is the only former defendant in the case to testify for the prosecution at Raniere's trial.

Her mother, onetime NXIVM President Nancy Salzman, is also awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy; she faces a potential sentence of between 33 and 41 months in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
While the women were released on bond under strict guidelines, Raniere has remained in federal custody in Brooklyn since his arrest in Mexico in March 2018.

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