The 40-year-old billionaire heir to the Seagram Company fortune was convicted of enabling a sex ring for Keith Raniere, the self-proclaimed leader of NXIVM, a cult-like group in upstate New York.
UPDATE: Clare Bronfman was sentenced to six years and nine months of prison on Wednesday. She pleaded guilty to her role in the cult-like NXIVM before pleading guilty, according to the New York Times. In April 2019 Bronfman – who spent at least $116 million of her Seagram-Browse to cover NXIVM – pleaded guilty to charges in April 2019 in connection with the alleged self-help group’s federal racketeering case. NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, convicted of all the charges, faces death sentence.
In a statement, Seth DuCharme, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said: “Defendant Bronfman twisted our immigration system to serve a reprehensible agenda and engaged in flagrant fraud to the detriment of her victims and for a corrupt endeavor. With the sentence of today she has been held responsible for her crimes.”
Clare Bronfman, the 40-year-old billionaire heir to the Seagram Company fortune, was convicted of enabling a sex ring for Keith Raniere, the self-appointed leader of NXIVM, a cult-like group in upstate New York. On Friday, Bronfman said that she harboured a person who had to reside in the U.S. illegally for unpaid “work and services”, according to the Associated Press. Bronfman also admitted to committing credit card fraud on Raniere’s behalf.
Bronfman is the daughter of billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr. Her apology to the judge touched on the wealth and privilege of her family that allowed her grievous acts to be permitted. Bronfman said in court that he had received a great gift from my grandfather and father. “With the gift comes immense privilege and, more important, enormous responsibility. It does not come with a capacity to break the law… For that I am truly sorry,”
Bronfman agreed to forfeit $6 million of her $200,000 fortune, according to AP.
NXIVM’s accountant, Kathy Russell, also admitted to a fraud charge on Friday. Russell and Bronfman resuscitate three other NXIVM defendants who have pleaded guilty, including the former Smallville actress Allison Mack. According to the original 2017 New York Times report that exposed the group, Mack was the chief recruiter in the NXIVM all-female sect called DOS. This sect provided “slaves” who were robbed into engaging in sexual activity with Raniere and pushed to self-brand themselves with Mack’s and Raniere’s initials.
NXIVM operated under the pretense of offering self-improvement courses which Bronfman funded with tens of millions of dollars. AP adduced that she also paid for NXIVM’s legal counsel when the group was served.
Although Bronfman faces more than two years in prison, her plea extends her sentence on 25 July – nearly two months after Raniere’s sentence in early May. Raniere faces conspiracy charges claiming that people such as Bronfman created a ring of women forced to have sexual relationships with him. Because Russell and Bronfman plead guilty, Raniere will face one alone in a jury trial.