While government seeks jail time, NXIVM bookkeeper’s lawyers ask for probation

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Lawyers for Kathy Russell, the lead bookkeeper of the Capital Region sex cult NXIVM, are asking the judge for leniency ahead of her sentencing Wednesday. U.S. sentencing guidelines point to a sentence of potentially six to 12 months in prison.

Lawyers are pushing that 63-year-old Russell has made a psychological transformation, and that unlike her co-defendants, Russell “had neither money nor fame, and simply lacked the economic means to escape.”

In a letter to Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Russell wrote in part: “My delusion on who Keith is has come at a very high price, not only to myself, more importantly to everyone who in some way were also pulled in and were hurt. Your Honor, I ask that you, and all those who have been hurt by NXIVM, accept my remorse.”

Russell pleaded guilty in April 2019 to one count of superseding information, which charged that between February 2014 and March 2015, she committed visa fraud. She admitted that she presented phony documents to the Mexican consulate to bring a NXIVM member into the U.S. under false pretenses.

The prosecution is asking the court to sentence Russell within the six to 12 months in prison suggested by the guidelines. They say her conduct reflects that she facilitated NXIVM mastermind Keith Raniere’s criminal conduct and furthered his schemes for years.

In its sentencing memorandum, the government wrote: “The defendant was not the most culpable member of the criminal enterprise charged in this case, but her willingness to obey Raniere’s directives without question caused real and significant harm to others.”

Russell is the last co-conspirator in the NXIVM case to be sentenced. She will appear before the judge in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, October 6 at 11:00 A.M.

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