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Feds Want Keith Raniere's NXIVM Consigliere To Serve 41 Months In Prison

Nancy Salzman, who co-founded NXIVM with Keith Raniere, pleaded guilty to multiple charges more than two years ago and will be sentenced in September.

By Megan Carpentier
Disturbing Details of an Alleged Sex Cult, NXIVM and Keith Raniere

Federal prosecutors have officially asked the court for the maximum sentence for a top leader of NXIVM whose sentencing is scheduled for early September.

Nancy Salzman, 67, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to one racketeering conspiracy charge with two underlying criminal acts: conspiracy to commit identity theft and conspiracy to alter records in an official proceeding. 

In documents filed with the Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, prosecutors asked that she received the maximum sentence of their original calculation at the time of her plea: 41 months. The actual sentencing guidelines would normally be 41 to 51 months, but apparently the prosecutors failed to include the multiple count analysis standard in their calculation at the time, and are thus asking for the high end of their original guidance of 33 to 41 months.

At the time of her plea, Salzman admitted to participating in "the unlawful surveillance of perceived critics and enemies of [leader Keith] Raniere and NXIVM," according to the filing, which included stealing the email passwords of various perceived enemies, according to the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle at the time of her plea.

The targets of the cult's surveillance included, according to prosecutors, were "high-ranking politicians, reporters who had published articles critical of Raniere or NXIVM, NXIVM’s own lawyers, legal adversaries and their families, an accountant (James Loperfido) who worked for an attorney who had previously done work for NXIVM, and Edgar Bronfman Sr., the father of [fellow NXIVM member] Clare Bronfman." Raniere, Bronfman and Salzman compiled information on their critics that included banking records, which were found by investigators at Salzman's house in 2018 when they served her with a search warrant.

In addition, Salzman, who co-founded the group, admitted that she deliberately edited videotapes that were produced in a federal lawsuit that NXIVM filed against a former adherent, Stephanie Franco, her parents and cult deprogrammer Rick Ross. In order to disprove counterclaims by Franco that NXIVM and Salzman had made false claims about what their educational programs could accomplish, Salzman had videos sought by Franco in discovery altered to remove the claims and provided them to Franco's attorneys with representations that they were unedited.

Prosecutors note in their sentencing memo, however, that Salzman's role in NXIVM went far beyond the two underlying conspiracy to commit racketeering counts to which she pleaded guilty — as did the damage she did.

Salzman, they remind the judge, "was a loyal and integral member of the criminal enterprise led by her co-defendant Keith Raniere. She was the President of NXIVM and second-in-command to Raniere until her arrest."

"In that role, the defendant exalted Raniere’s teachings and ideology and demanded absolute commitment and deference to Raniere," they added.

They noted that she personally ordered some victims of NXIVM to remedy their "ethical breaches" in ways that benefitted her or Raniere, "disparaged or humiliated women and blamed victims of abuse" and that she allegedly personally promoted Raniere's ideology that girls were ready for sex at the onset of menstruation and women enjoy being raped.

NXIVM, which touted itself as a self help organization committed to unlocking members' potential, contained a clandestine sex cult centered around so-called "master/slave" relationships with Raniere at the head, prosecutors say. Women in the group were branded with Raniere's initials and virtually ever part of their daily lives, including when and how much they ate, were rigidly monitored. Some were coerced into sexual relationships with Raniere and they were forced to turn over collateral in order to ensure their silence.

Raniere was convicted on sex trafficking and racketeering charges in 2019 and was sentenced to 120 years in prison in 2020. Bronfman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal and harbor aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of personal identification information in 2019 and was sentenced to 81 months in prison. Salzman's daughter, Lauren Salzman, pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges in 2019, testified against Raniere and was sentenced to five years of probation in July. The actor Allison Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges in 2019 and was sentenced to three years in June.