Seagram heiress gets bail in alleged NY sex cult probe

Nxivm: Seagram liquor heiress arrested in alleged sex cult case

Nxivm: Seagram liquor heiress arrested in alleged sex cult case

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. She was released from federal custody on $5 million dollars bail.

Clare Bronfman, daughter of the late former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr., was charged with three others in a superseding indictment related to the activities of Nxivm, an Albany-based self-help organization that has attracted a following among the wealthy and famous.

Bronfman was scheduled to be arraigned later on Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn. The sisters lost the money in failed investment... They had previously pleaded not guilty to sex-trafficking charges.

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.

US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis set the high amount after prosecutors said Bronfman was a flight risk and hearing she has a net worth of roughly $US200 million, including a stake in an island resort in Fiji.

The founder and leader of the group, Keith Raniere, was arrested in Mexico earlier this year and brought to the USA to face charges that he, along with a Nxivm adherent, TV actor Allison Mack, coerced followers into becoming "slaves" to senior members of the group.

They have denied the allegations.

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The group garnered headlines for an initiation ritual that reportedly included branding founder Keith Raniere's initials on women, attempts to recruit celebrities, and accusations by prosecutors that members were turned into sex slaves for Mr Raniere.

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". They are accused of trafficking a former sexual partner of Raniere's for "labor and services". Her lawyer said she did nothing wrong. She faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Recruits were expected to provide "collateral" before joining - including damaging information about friends and family, nude photographs and rights to assets - that could be used against them if they revealed the existence of the organization or tried to leave, prosecutors said.

The other two arrestees - her daughter Lauren Salzman and the organization's bookkeeper Kathy Russell - stayed back in jail in Albany because they didn't meet their bail conditions. "We are confident that Clare will be exonerated", she said.

Sara and Clare Bronfman declined to comment for the Vanity Fair story. The company said on its website that it has suspended events until further notice.

The case is U.S. v. Raniere, 18-cr-204, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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