News NXIVM

Should Mack, Bronfman, Russell and the Salzmans take a plea deal — Now!?

The Crushing Reality Of Going To Trial – And Then To Prison

[Reporter’s Note: I had an opportunity to discuss the status of the U.S. v. Raniere Et AL case with a colleague who has been following it from the beginning – and who, more importantly, has a good deal of experience in dealing with high-profile criminal cases. I asked him what he would say to the defendants if he had an opportunity to address them at this point in time. Here is what he told me:]

*****

What they need to understand is that the question they are facing is whether they want to have some control over their fate or whether they are prepared to do a very long-stretch of unimaginably hard time.

They have been charged with serious crimes, the EDNY has a 97% conviction rate, and once the jury has returned the verdicts, all the tears and remorse in the world at their sentencing hearings will have absolutely zero impact on the judge.

Tears and remorse and the prospect of leniency are for people who plead guilty.

There is no leniency after a jury conviction, which will be for more serious crimes than they could have pled to – and the sentencing recommendation for each one who is convicted will very likely list multiple aggravating factors and no mitigating factors.

Those sentencing recommendations will likely recount a lot of the hurt and damage these people have caused – and several other criminal acts that they were not convicted of but are connected to – because those are entirely appropriate things for the judge to consider in imposing sentences.

The sentences will be harsh.

A lot of people think they can do prison time because the horrors of prison life are abstract to them.

Once they’re in prison, most of them will spend their days thinking about what they could have done differently – and wishing they had done so. And they will all come to the crushing realization that there is a huge difference between a couple of years in prison and a decade or two.

Those who don’t plead will learn that there are no do-overs, no turning back.

Some will waste their time pursuing meritless appeals. None of those will be granted.

The crimes they’ve been charged with are horrifying and scandalous.

Even the racketeering charges are problematic because for the jurors who will be hearing the case, those charges translate into things like organized crime, gangsters, thugs, and other people who do not have a place in civilized society.

The defendants will go to prison and endure year-after-year-after-year of misery, indignity, and suffering.

Later, they will come out wrinkled and gray, hollow shells, pariahs in society, with no friends to greet them, and with family members who may open their arms but who will never be comfortable with them around.

When there is human carnage – as there is here – society is not forgiving, and redemption is near impossible to earn.

On the first day of opening arguments, their lives will already be over. A 97% conviction rate at trial. That’s what should be on their minds. Only the most reckless gambler would bet against those odds.

Their lawyers literally have nothing to lose. They are being paid well, they are gaining fame, and even the greatest criminal defense lawyers have a lot more clients who go to prison than go free.

Regardless of where their loyalties truly lie, their lawyers will always get to go home at night, and they will invariably sleep well regardless of the outcome for their clients.

There is very little downside to any of them taking their clients to trial.

Maybe the trust runs out of money and they aren’t fully compensated for their work, but they still will be rewarded.

A jury trial will elevate their profiles that much higher, that much longer, because it will be one of the most covered trials in years. This is like show biz to them, as Agnifilo amply demonstrates every day he’s in court – and just as in show biz, for them, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

If Clare or Lauren or Allison is sentenced to ten years, their lawyers will take full credit for it not having been twenty. They’ll spin it as a “Win” no matter what the outcome is.

And new clients will line up at their doors.

It is literally a “Win-Win” situation for the defense attorneys.

The only people who stand to lose are the defendants: they know what they’ve done, we know what they’ve done, the jurors will clearly understand what they’ve done, and the whole world will soon know the same.

The only question is how badly they will lose.

Yet, even at this late date – with just two months to go before the start of the trial – there is still time for at least some of the defendants to limit the damage they will incur. First to flip is still the winningest bet, but second, third and fourth have plenty to gain as well.

The biggest question now is what impact a superseding indictment may have on the case.

Surely, some of the defendants will likely face additional charges – which will make their level of risk that much greater.

But for others, it may actually present a better opportunity in terms of damage control because there will be that many more charges to bargain down from, more potential lesser charges, or even lesser included charges, to plead to.

Assuming the prosecution is willing.

Trials are expensive and grueling – which is why prosecutors often prefer plea deals.

But the closer it gets to the trial date, the more prepared the prosecution will be to put on its case – and the more committed it will become to actually trying the case.

For at least some of the defendants, there will soon be a point of no return, a point at which their brinksmanship has made a plea deal impossible.

Yes, trials are expensive, but as compared to the defendants, the United States has virtually unlimited resources – and the prosecution’s trial team will have all the resources of the Department of Justice at its disposal.

The five AUSAs currently on trial team are the public-facing tip of an iceberg. There are lots more people who will be toiling night and day behind the scenes to assist them in this case.

Not even Clare can match that.

*****

I believe my colleague has done an excellent job of summarizing where things are right now for the defendants in the case of U.S. v. Raniere Et Al – and where they’re going to end up.

Raniere has always enjoyed the advantage of being able to hire top-notch lawyers, buy-off politicians and local law enforcement officials, and keep hammering away at his opponents until they run out of money or simply become exhausted from the non-stop litigation.

In truth, he has only ever been in one fair fight in his entire life – and that was when a group of State Attorneys General took down him and his Consumers Buyline scheme.

There is no chance that Raniere will ever accept any plea deal because his ego will simply never let him admit that he should be subjected to the same laws as other people.

Unfortunately, all the other defendants will most likely stand by his side – and choose to go to trial with him.

The only “good news” in this sad mess is that they will all have plenty of time to think about the numerous ways they could have avoided their bleak futures.

The road not taken…


About the author

Artvoice

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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  • Didn’t Allison’s lawyers say way way back that they were waiting to see discovery? Maybe wishful thinking, but isn’t it possible that the superseding charges could actually reveal discovery which would make her seem like less of a key player? For example, that others in DOS played a greater role than she did? The gist of what I’ve read on here seems to imply that she might not have understood a lot of what was going on. What would happen if, for example, the DOJ reveals emails between Raniere and others who specifically schemed to make her look more guilty?

    • I hope an FR legal eye sees and responds to Max’s question here. I’m curious about that too. Is there any reason for Allison or Kathy to hold off for “discovery” if they did want to deal on those grounds that they were unwittingly or less wittingly used to take the fall? Or is there greater urgency in getting the first seats before the superseding defendants jump on board the plea bus if they haven’t already?

      And maybe that remark by Allie’s counsel is an excuse to hold her back in deference to Keith and Clare’s attorneys and their clients interests.

      Really sad Kathy’s Curcio hearing didn’t make a dent in her zombification status. Holding my breath for Allie.

    • There could be some discovery that would be helpful to Allison – but there could also be some discovery that will lead to more charges being brought against her. She’s in the best position to know which of those outcomes is more likely. But either way, if she goes to trial and loses, she will likely get the maximum possible sentence for every charge on which she’s convicted (Although the sentences will likely run concurrently, she’ll serve 85% of the longest one).

  • the moment I read this, I immediately thought I’d take a plea even if not guilty I pray AMs mother had the same reaction. Clare, you would do well to take note too. Kathy, Salzmans: same goes for you. Put your pride aside before you take a great, great fall.

      • To Tex2,

        Why? Because:

        Krclaviger is foolishly hoping to encourage the defendants to “plea a Mia Culpa”, and take a plea deal before the defendants flush what is left of their lives down the toilet.

        Krclaviger is definitely an optimist. The defendants are so far gone Krclaviger would have a better shot at ” parting the sea” than reaching any of them.

    • That’s why our family friend took a plea deal when he was up against EDNY. He got 7 years and was out way earlier like 60% of the sentence. There were two other innocent co-defendants who didn’t plead guilty like the rest of them: one got 35 years, and one was acquitted.

  • Wow that’s very well stated (as usual) heartfelt warning for some, Claviger. Unfortunately, I think you’re absolutely right.

    Clare isn’t supporting Kemar or his mother’s shopping sprees out of the goodness of her heart, IMO. She’s ensuring Marianna is a loyal witness at trial — the same way she paid the witnesses in she and Sara’s Precision case against the Plyam’s by keeping them on the payroll for years doing nothing but maintaining porta-potties prior to the start of it. (I wouldn’t rule out jury tampering, btw, either in that case not to mention the choice Mexican judge who got along so well with the also mostly Mexican jurors and witnesses.)

    There are plenty other signs Clare and her counsel (two of whom, Denny Burke and John Sandweg, may also have a personal interest in keeping certain witnesses joyfully loyal) are gunning for trial and taking their defendant hostages, IMO, such as Kathy and Allison down that hellpath with them.

    Can’t save anyone from themself. Sigh.

  • Max,

    I do follow your logic.

    I think any superseding indictment will just make her more culpable and show she had greater involvement. Mack fled the US with Raniere. When the Mexican government arrested Keith Raniere,
    Alison chased after the Mexican police cars. By all accounts of people who have left Dos Alison Mack was a key player and integral part of NXIVM.

    My personal belief is that she is in deep. She and one other woman Lauren Salzman were each Co-leaders of DOS. Allison’s gave an interview to The NY Times and admitted being a Dos Master leader.

  • It’s a crap shoot. A 2nd degree murder conviction and thirty year sentence comes out to maybe 12 years behind bars. 1st degree can get you life which isn’t life.
    With who and what these people look like I wouldn’t count on long sentences.
    Especially Mack

    • You serve the whole time at the Federal level, except some minimal time reduction for good behavior. I’ll take the input from someone with experience than some random guy who clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Especially since I did my own research, as usual, before stating my position.

      • Should have researched Amway. Or listened to the people that tried to warn you back in the day, even if they were random guys.

    • Mitch, Your calculations and projections might apply in some States – but this is a Federal court case. Thus, even with the changes that were enacted a few weeks ago, anyone who is convicted in this trial will serve about 85% of their sentence, There is no such thing as parole in the Federal criminal justice system.

  • Semi legal opinion:
    I asked my live in attorney and she said they should take a plea before discovery is done…and all evidence entered to avoid additional charges ….especially in a case like this that is so complex…. assuming the defendants have committed additional crimes that have not yet been revealed.

    So in a nutshell Mack and the rest are making a big mistake in not taking a plea before discovery is over. Another words the other defendants should become witnesses for the prosecution before the prosecution offers a less favorable outcome.

    Disclaimer:
    My wife is a divorce attorney not a criminal attorney.

  • I’ve been there. It ain’t a good place. My decision was to take a plea, be accountable for my deeds, accept punishment and go forward by living honestly and respectfully each day.

    Everyone has to search their heart for the truth. If someone had no knowledge their behavior was criminal, perhaps there is provision under the law for their innocence?

    I can only speak for myself. I am happier leading a truthful existence.

    The trial interests me because there are remote, yet similar thematic elements to my own situation. I understand how one’s ego can delude oneself and distort one’s behavior slowly over time.

    I offer no answer to the defendants other than the cliche: “the truth will set you free”.

  • All very good points, particularly about the defense attorneys being in a “win-win” position. It’s probably in their best interest to take the case to trial (for the publicity). But I doubt the legal amateurs Keith and Clare can see that. Their expertise is in civil litigation, not criminal law. They are two totally different animals.

  • I am currently reading THE THREAT by Andrew McCabe – Some of the most interesting parts of the book have nothing to do with his time as acting director of the FBI. Rather it is in the insight that he sheds on how FBI agents make their cases. He got his start in the good old NYC Field office which is the largest of them all. What he has to say about RICO is telling in what the NXIVM defendants are up against: to quote McCabe; ” EVERY RICO charge has to go to the DOJ for approval because so much is at stake in the language. No one wants to bring a RICO case that gets challenged and risk an appeal that pulls the teeth out of the Statute”. In one of his first cases, he was bringing RICO charges against a Russian organized crime group and there was no precedent. A few pages later when explaining the difference between how information in RICO cases can be obtained historically or proactively none other than our judge in the NXIVM case: US DISTRICT COURT judge Nicholas G Garaufis make an appearance handing down a life sentence to a Mafia assassin who was a member of the Bonanno crime family.

    As has been said before, the EDNY with the help of the information gathered by the FBI are not playing games here with the ENTERPRISE known as “NXIVM”. The EDNY would not be bringing these charges if they did not have the conviction rate that they do.

  • A message in a bottle…..

    If you are one of the defendants and you are reading this comment think about how crazy your life has become now that government of the United States has indicted you, and you are reading the comments of a total random stranger with bad grammar:)

    Take the advice of Krclaviger. It is not to late yet.

  • Well written, clear and understandable and generally applicable.

    This contribution should be printed out and hung on the wall framed behind glass.

    Then you can read it again and again. Every sentence is exactly right and true.

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