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 aside as Raniere added her two young daughters to his harem. She pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy – and is awaiting sentencing.
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.
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.
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.
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
• 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