Keith Raniere is pondering his future
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Will Raniere actually go to trial?

How ironic that the man who sought to have so much control over so many women has been abandoned by all of his female co-defendants? The first to get a seat on the Plea Deal Bus was Nancy Salzman, the woman who was the public face of the NXIVM/ESP criminal enterprise – and who stood […]

How ironic that the man who sought to have so much control over so many women has been abandoned by all of his female co-defendants?

Nancy Salzman

The first to get a seat on the Plea Deal Bus was Nancy Salzman, the woman who was the public face of the NXIVM/ESP criminal enterprise – and who stood aside as Raniere added her two young daughters to his harem. She pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.


Lauren Salzman 

Next to get a seat was Lauren Salzman, who had been promised an avatar baby by Raniere but, instead, ended up with just his initials burned into the flesh of her pubic area. She pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.


Allison Mack

Then came Allison Mack, the woman that Raniere put in charge of Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS), the most deviant component of his evil empire. She also pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering and one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.


Clare Bronfman


Kathy Russell

Next came the duo of Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell, two of Raniere’s most devoted and loyal followers. Clare pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy To Conceal And Harbor Illegal Aliens For Financial Gain and one count of Fraudulent Use Of Identification – and Kathy pleaded guilty to one count of Visa Fraud. Both are awaiting sentencing.


Keith Alan Raniere

Which leaves Raniere as the only one scheduled to go on trial on May 7th.

So, what will Raniere do?

Most courtroom observers – and every defense attorney that I asked about the case – believe that Raniere will also end up taking some sort of plea deal.

Each of them indicated that the odds of him being convicted are just too staggering for him to risk going to trial.

In addition to the mounds of documentary evidence that the prosecution is ready to present to the jury, there are numerous witnesses that are ready to take the stand and tell the world about Raniere’s criminality and depravity.

Those witnesses could include some or all of his former co-defendants: Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell.

They also include a host of women he has had sexual relations with; including – it appears – at least one who he raped when she was 12 and 13 years old.

There will be DOS slaves who will testify they were coerced and threatened with the release of blackmail-worthy material he called collateral.

There will be likely Karen Unterreiner, his longest-serving harem member, who helped procure underage girls for him.

There will be Sarah Edmondson – who he deceived and likely Mark Vicente and a host of others who, although not members of his harem,  were victimized by him.

Many of his old followers – are prepared to testify against him rebutting his argument that he was a man who helped so many people as an ethicist and a genius teacher.

Even a lousy gambler like Raniere would logically decide to fold his hand – and take the best deal he can get from the prosecution.

So, what might such a deal look like?

Well, at this point, Raniere is facing the following charges in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) case:
• Racketeering Conspiracy

• Racketeering

• Forced Labor Conspiracy

• Wire Fraud Conspiracy

• Sex Trafficking Conspiracy

• Sex Trafficking

• Attempted Sex Trafficking

In addition to those charges, Raniere could easily be facing at least four other charges in the Northern District of New York (NDNY):
• Sexual Exploitation Of A Child

• Sexual Exploitation Of A Child

• Possession Of Child Pornography

• Conspiracy To Commit Identity Theft


So, given the likelihood that he will be convicted on all the charges he is facing in the EDNY – and on at least four more charges if the NDNY decides to finally do something about his reign of criminality in their backyard – what’s the best deal that he’ll be offered?

I think there are two possibilities.

If he wants to just resolve the EDNY charges, in my opinion, the prosecution will likely agree to a deal that includes a 15-year sentence.

But if he wants to also avoid the possibility of any charges in the NDNY – including the four that are listed above – then I think the prosecution will insist that he agree to a 20-year sentence.

The game could change somewhat if the judge decides to toss out the evidence of the photographs of the then-15-year-old Mexican girl, who was identified as Jane Doe 2 in the second superseding indictment.

In my opinion, that could see a potential deal that included any potential NDNY charges — and that capped his sentence at 15 years.

With time off for good behavior, and with credit for the year he has already served, Raniere could be out in about 12 years – when he is 70.

However, I have my doubts about him ever getting out.

Even if he takes a plea deal.

That’s because I don’t think The Vanguard is capable of serving very much time in federal prison.


Which is why I still think that despite all the reasons not to do so, Keith will end up going to trial – and will even take the stand in his own defense.

Looked at from his perspective, he is now painfully aware that he doesn’t do well in prison.

That’s especially true when he’s put in general population – which is likely where’ll be placed for most, if not all, of his sentence (Because of the length of his sentence, he’ll automatically be in a maximum security prison – since any sentence over 10 years requires one to be assigned to maximum security).

So, if he thinks he may not survive whatever sentence he’s offered via a plea deal, then why wouldn’t he take a chance and go to trial?

Even if he gets convicted on all of the charges against him, he probably won’t get a sentence of more than 30 years.

If, as I believe, Keith knows that he can’t survive 15 or 20 years in prison, then a 30-year sentence is not much of a threat.


Another major consideration for Keith is the fact that if he takes a plea deal, he will be required to publicly admit his guilt before U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

No equivocating…no word-salad explanations…no pointing fingers at others.

Can Raniere do that?

Real martyrs never forsake their principles.

Real heroes fight until they can no longer fight.

Real Vanguards never abandon their followers.

Is Keith Raniere real?

We’ll soon find out…


“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others” – Groucho Marx

About the author


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


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  • Well, judging from the recent photo of Moira Penza, in which she was absolutely radiant, I would guess that seeing her would be a big plus about having days in court.

    I would say it is quite possible that each day in court, each opportunity to behold and rememorize her, could be a treasure to some which you or I could never understand.

    Now imagine her 40 pounds lighter, chronically delirious, and with a giant bushy thatch and you’re really getting the concept here.

  • Thanks Krclaviger as always!!!!!!

    I think anything less than 15 years would be a travesty of Justice.

    My personal belief is that the DOJ will take nothing less than 20 years. Raniere is an extremely rare type of criminal defendant seldom are cult leaders successfully arrested alive and prosecuted successfully. Raniere is like a criminal Unicorn.

    Prosecuting Raniere is a huge feather in the caps of the DA , and the FBI and the DOJ leadership. Prosecuting Raniere is a career capstone!!!!

    Therefore I believe the DOJ will not take less than 20 years.

    • Yolanda,
      I would advise Raniere to cut a deal and maybe get the child porn charges dropped.
      Life would go easier for him in prison if there were no pedophilia or child porn charges.
      Perhaps he could get his sentence dropped to ten years.

      Moreover, I have talked to many people who have served on juries and they regard it as a tremendous imposition on their lives.
      Even if they are retired they would rather stay home and enjoy the summer weather.

      When the charges are overwhelming it is better just to bite the bullet and look forward to the possibility of being free again someday.

      If Raniere had stayed away from the branding and blackmail activities, he might still be in charge of NXIVM.
      For once in Raniere’s life he should show some humility and concern for others.

      • but how much kindness and compassion for the real monster in this whole story, while when you refer to allison what you do is throw it into a hole and try to bury it, meanwhile show your friendly face with the real monster, WELL DONE shadow .

    • Because his arrogance compels him. Answer this though. What if he doesn’t go to trial and takes a plea? What then? Is he an instant loser – like the other women who did? Or would you justify that he’s just trying to do the smartest thing?

  • He’ll go to trial as a Hail Mary pass and will then take his life after he receives his sentence. Are there safeguards against this? Can he be put on immediate suicide watch all the way until he’s comfortably in prison? How easy is it to off oneself in prison?

  • Yes. He’s too arrogant not to.Taking a plea will require him to admit his guilt. The bigger the narcissist, the less likely this will happen, and VanDouche appears to be as big of one as they come.

  • Me thinks he is going to trial following the advice of his lawyer; because his lawyer actually wants him put in jail.

  • Better pack my bags, looks like the “aye’s” have it so far — Jarhead makes an exceptionally good argument; KAR’s deep, deep seeded ‘delusions of grandeur’ could override even the probable preference of the PRI party Mexican elite crime cartels and their paid political puppetry here in the U.S. to avoid any trial in any district.

    Looks like Vanguard’s goin’ to trial. …Unless the Nuestras or MK’s get him at MDC first — which would be my personal preference in the interests of my own self-preservation… But they’ve already had over a year to get rid of him with only minimal success.

    Frank and Clav make good points there, too — that KAR must know he can’t hack prison much longer and may take the gamble for his life.

    I’ll just bill Clare for my airfare in her countersuit if y’all are wrong and there’s no trial.

  • It seems to me that the entire gospel of Raniere is that women are prone to self destructive behaviors and “disintegrations”. All of these women who took pleas and turned against him, may in Raniere’s egomaniacal mind, only prove that he was right after all!

    I guess it depends on how much of his own bullshit he actually believes. In his own mind, does he believe that he is this godlike person? Or now that he has been exposed, will he fold like a lawn chair and be the total wuss that everyone knows him to be? I tend to think that most narcissists keep that belief to the bitter end.

    • I think you’re right to consider Raniere as a narcissist functionally, if not actually as a psychological diagnosis, and that’s a factor suggesting he will indeed maintain his behavioral facade until the end.

      I’ve followed and studied a number of groups and their leaders, as well as financial cons like Ponzi schemes. It usually seems hard to tell whether or not the leader actually believes what he’s teaching, or has some hidden belief (Raniere might think he’s really fighting the Illuminati) or other agenda, but regardless, it seems as if they typically act as if they do, and that predicts their actions fairly well.

      I also find in interesting that Raniere is reportedly a gambler – and lost so much of the Bronfman’s money on commodities. Perpetrators of financial cons seem to get enmeshed in the gambler mentality, and actually believe that somehow if they can just keep it going a bit longer they are going to have a run of luck, make up their losses and actually have enough money to pay back everyone they owe, coming out not only unscathed but maybe even lauded. If Raniere is stuck in that sort of unrealistic thinking, it would be another factor pushing him to take his chances in court.

    • Tend to agree with Jarhead. It would feed his ego if his case goes to trial. Guess we’ll just have to wait an see. Yet, for the sake of those he wronged, it sure may help for some closure see him go down in flames in court.

      Would be curious to know who is still paying for Keith’s legal fees.

  • Keith Raniere is never going to get a good enough deal from the DOJ for him to take a deal.

    At best he get 20 years from them and since his attorneys were such babies about charges being moved to the NDNY, he’d still have to face those charges after a plea.

    That being said, Raniere will go “One more round of torture’.

    He will put ever last victim of his through having to testify at trial and sit back and enjoy their pain.

    He will enjoy watching them tell their stories of what he was able to do to them and get them to do for him.

    He will enjoy his legal team attempting to torture them on the witness stand to plant seeds of doubt into the jury’s mind.

  • I am still waiting for his malpractice suit against his own attorneys, no matter which way he goes at this point.

    • Going to be hard for him to do since the judge had the special hearing twice with Raniere about him feeling confident with his legal team.

  • I think that trying to defend himself at trial, is the only way for Raniere to maintain his ego and his following.

    • He will not admit guilt AND spend 10-20yrs in prison. He’s still proud of himself for not admitting any guilt with CBI.

      He’s already planning his comeback, whenever/ifever that may be.

  • If Keith knows he’s going to prison anyway, would he like to go to trial just to get back at his enemies like Frank and Sarah and Catherine. What would he care about a little perjury charge at that point anyway. What would prevent him from taking the stand and saying that Frank knew that he was having sex with the 15 year old and that Frank encouraged him to exploit Allison Mack and the other actresses, that he slept with Sarah E and she made fun of how stupid and gullible her acting “friends” were and how he also slept with Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter at the same time and that India molested the children when she worked at Rainbow.

    • That sounds like a strategy to get himself declared insane. Making claims about others without any evidence while on trial yourself is a ticket to the bighouse.

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