The heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune who pleaded guilty to two charges in connection with the alleged NXIVM sex-trafficking cult case will receive her sentence on Wednesday.
Clare Bronfman, the 39-year-old daughter of late philanthropist and Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman, last year admitted to using a dead woman’s identity and credit card to help NXIVM avoid paying taxes. She also admitted she housed and concealed a woman she brought into the country illegally to use as unpaid labor for NXIVM.
Prosecutors have asked Bronfman to serve five years in prison, according to the New York Times. She will be the first defendant to be sentenced in the cases surrounding NXIVM’s founder Keith Raniere.
NXIVM garnered headlines for an initiation ritual that includes branding, its attempts to recruit celebrities and accusations by prosecutors that members were turned into sex slaves for Raniere.
In a letter she wrote last month to the judge, Bronfman didn’t disavow Raniere and said she believed him and NXIVM changed her life for the better, the Times reported.
Bronfman told the judge during her plea April 2019 hearing that she had wanted to help people through NXIVM but ended up dishonoring her family.
“Your honor, I was afforded a great gift by my grandfather and father,” Bronfman said. “With the gift, comes immense privilege and more importantly, tremendous responsibility. It does not come with an ability to break the law.”
She added: “For this, I am truly sorry.”
A former competitor in international equestrian show jumping competitions, Bronfman is accused of taking a number of steps to help NXIVM’s founder exercise control over members of the upstate New York group, including identity theft, interception of electronic communications and money laundering.
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 Raniere and NXIVM,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue previously said in a statement.