Clare Bronfman quietly pays legal expenses for fellow cult members, prosecutors reveal
The multi-millionaire heiress to the Seagrams fortune, Clare Bronfman, has been secretly paying the legal fees of her fellow NXIVM sex cult members, including leaders Keith Raniere and Alison Mack, prosecutors have revealed.
The vast legal expenses for cult leader Raniere and his underlings are being paid using a trust funded by 39-year-old Bronfman, federal prosecutors reported in new court filings.
Clare Bronfman is the youngest daughter of the billionaire philanthropist and former chairman of his family distilled beverage firm, Seagram, Edgar Bronfman Sr.
Bronfman was arrested by federal agents on July 24, 2018, in New York City and charged with money laundering and identity theft in connection with NXIVM activities, to which she pleaded not guilty in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
She was released on $100 million bond and placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Also charged were Bronfman’s long-time mentor and NXIVM President Nancy Salzman, her daughter, NXIVM executive board member Lauren Salzman, and former NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell.
Bronfman and her sister Sara are committed followers and financial backers of NXIVM and Raniere and relocated to upstate New York to work as NXIVM trainers.
According to the New York Post, Bronfman, Raniere, and others – including onetime “Smallville” TV actress Allison Mack – are facing racketeering and other charges for running the Albany-area group, which allegedly cultivated sex slaves for Raniere.
Bronfman’s financial contributions to all of their cases raise questions because “it may subject an attorney to undesirable outside influence; and raises an ethical question ‘as to whether the attorney’s loyalties are with the client or the payor,’” reads the Brooklyn federal court filing.
“The government has learned that the legal fees of multiple witnesses and potential witnesses are also being paid by Bronfman or the Trust and that there have been efforts to pay the legal fees of other witnesses.”
One unnamed lawyer paid by Bronfman even went so far as to instruct a witness called to testify before the grand jury to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
The attorney said he wouldn’t be “comfortable” representing the witness if she didn’t do so.
The lawyer “explained to Witness #1 that his fees were being paid for by Clare Bronfman,” the filings say.
“The attorney told Witness #1 that he recommended that she invoke the Fifth Amendment in response to the government’s questions in the grand jury.”
Prosecutors have asked Judge Nicholas Garaufis for a hearing on the matter.
He has yet to rule.