Seagram's Heiress Clare Bronfman Sentenced to 81 Months in Prison in NXIVM Case
Clare Bronfman is the daughter of late billionaire businessman and former Seagram's liquor chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr.
Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, has been ordered to spend more than six years behind bars on charges related to a sex-trafficking conspiracy in the cult-like self-help group NXIVM.
The 41-year-old was sentenced to 81 months in prison by United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on Wednesday for conspiracy to conceal and harbor aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of personal identification information.
In addition, the court imposed a fine of $500,000 and restitution to be paid to victim "Jane Doe 12" in the amount of $96,605.
An attorney for Bronfman did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Bronfman, who is the daughter of late billionaire businessman Edgar Bronfman Sr., pleaded guilty to the charges in 2019 after she was accused of recruiting individuals into NXIVM-affiliated organizations and seeking visas for them based on false representations.
Prosecutors said that Bronfman recruited "Jane Doe 12" from Mexico to work for a NXIVM-affiliated company, submitting documents purporting to hire the woman with a salary of $3,600 per month in order to secure a work visa for her.
However, according to prosecutors, Bronfman only paid "Jane Doe 12" approximately $4,000 over the course of more than a year and told her that she would have to "earn" her visa by doing additional uncompensated work when the victim asked to be paid a living wage.
Bronfman had also used the credit card of a dead woman who used to be partners with NXIVM leader Keith Raniere in order to keep money and assets out of his name to evade paying income tax, according to prosecutors.
"Defendant Bronfman twisted our immigration system to serve a reprehensible agenda, and engaged in flagrant fraud to the detriment of her victims and in the service of a corrupt endeavor," Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. "With today’s sentence, she has been held accountable for her crimes."
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Bronfman is the first defendant sentenced in the investigation into NXIVM and its subgroup, DOS, described as an all-female secret society in which women allegedly were forced to be sexually subservient to Raniere, 60.
Other prominent NXIVM members who previously pleaded guilty to federal charges and are currently awaiting sentencing include former NXIVM president Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren Salzman, NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell and Smallville actress Allison Mack.
"Today, Clare Bronfman is the first of many to be sentenced for the crimes she committed in furtherance of NXIVM’s objectives. While her fate in no way removes the trauma NXIVM’s victims will likely continue to suffer, it does highlight the government’s efforts to bring to justice all of those involved in a series of illegal acts carried out for the benefit of this organization," William F. Sweeney Jr., FBI assistant director-in-charge, said in a statement.
"She recently wrote to the judge telling him that NXIVM and Keith Raniere had changed her life for the better. She will now have more than six years behind bars to contemplate that sentiment, and decide once and for all if it’s as easy to accept as she once believed it to be," Sweeney added.
Following a jury trial, Raniere was convicted of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy on June 19, 2019. He is also awaiting sentencing.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.