Seagram heiress arrested as part of case against Nxivm 'sex cult'


She was scheduled to be arraigned later Tuesday in Brooklyn.

Raniere, 57, was arrested in Mexico this year and was brought to the United States to face charges that he, along with an adherent, the TV actress Allison Mack, coerced followers into becoming slaves to senior members. Mack, considered to be Raniere's lieutenant, was originally charged in April and released on house arrest after posting $5 million bond.

Clare Bronfman, a former competitor in worldwide equestrian show jumping competitions, is accused in an indictment of taking a number of steps to help NXIVM's founder and leader, Keith Raniere, exercise control over members of the group, including identity theft, intercepting electronic communications and money laundering.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY, the racketeering conspiracy involves "an array of crimes, including identity theft, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice".

In a statement, US Attorney Richard Donoghue said Bronfman was part of an "inner circle" of loyalists who 'committed a broad range of serious crimes from identity theft and obstruction of justice to sex trafficking, all to promote and protect Nxivm's leader Keith Raniere and NXIVM'. In 2015, Raniere allegedly started his own secret society within the group, supposedly devoted to female empowerment, in which he coerced women into a master-slave relationship.

Nxivm founder Keith Raniere, who is awaiting trial on the same three earlier counts, was also charged with racketeering conspiracy, as were four other members. "We are confident that Clare will be exonerated", she said.

Bronfman's lawyer Susan Necheles argued for a lower bail, saying her client surrendered and had been in constant contact with prosecutors.

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The other women arrested Tuesday also face assorted racketeering charges: Nxivm President Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren-whose charges include labor trafficking, forced labor, extortion, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud-and bookkeeper Kathy Russel.

The document also gave some insight into other rituals and practices of the NXIVM group, which authorities say grew out of a previous enterprise called Executive Success Programs, Inc. "Clare Bronfman did nothing wrong", she wrote in a statement, emailed to Gothamist.

In an indictment, prosecutors said Mack, who played a teenage friend of Superman in the CW network's Smallville, helped Raniere recruit women to a secret sub-society within NXIVM whose members were branded with a surgical tool with a symbol that resembled his initials.

It's not a surprise that Bronfman, who's been affiliated with Nxivm for years, was arrested.

Raniere's influence over Clare led her to sell most of her horses, put her US$7 million New Hope, Pennsylvania, estate on the market, and throw herself into managing Raniere-inspired projects, according to the article.

In a website post past year, Bronfman called the secret society a "sorority" that 'has truly benefited the lives of its members, and does so freely'.

The new charges add a freaky twist to a sensational case that generated headlines with the April arrest of Allison Mack, 35, an actress who allegedly recruited slaves for Raniere. Sign-up now and enjoy one (1) week free access!