Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman pleads guilty in Nxivm sex cult case
Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman on Friday pleaded guilty for her role in the suspected upstate sex-slave cult Nxivm.
Bronfman wept softly in Brooklyn Federal Court as she copped to charges of conspiracy to conceal and harbor an illegal alien for financial gain, and fraudulent use of identification.
“Your honor, I was afforded a great gift from my grandfather and father,” Bronfman said, but that “privilege … does not come with the ability to break the law … It comes with a greater responsibility to uphold the law”
Dressed in a cream-colored shirt, billowy blue pants and a gray scarf printed with elephants, the 40-year-old whiskey scion admitted that she “did harbor an individual” who she helped “live and work in our country in a way that would be undetectable.”
She faces up to 25 years behind bars on both charges, and will also have to forfeit $6 million and pay additional restitution to unnamed victims. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 25.
Prosecutors had accused Bronfman — who used her family fortune to help bankroll the group and its leader, Keith Raniere — of aiding Raniere to help a non-citizen to enter the US and pay off debts that he racked up on the credit card of his dead girlfriend.
Nxivm’s former accountant, Kathy Russell, is also scheduled to plead guilty for her role in the group later Friday, according to court documents.
Bronfman, Raniere, Russell, “Smallville” TV actress Allison Mack, Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren Salzman were all arrested last year on various charges related to the Albany-area organization.
Among other things, prosecutors alleged that Raniere created a secret master-slave group within Nxivm, where women were duped into handing over damaging collateral about themselves, then variously made to keep near-starvation diets, get Raniere’s initials burned into their pubic regions and have sex with him.
Mack, Raniere’s purported right-hand woman in the group, last week pleaded guilty to being one of the group’s masters, tearfully confessing that she forced slaves “to perform services for me.”
Nancy and Lauren Salzman pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in March.
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