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Seagram Heiress Clare Bronfman Pleads Guilty to Involvement in Sex Cult

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Clare Bronfman, the heiress to the Seagram fortune, pled guilty in court yesterday to involvement in a self-help organization that many have said is really a so-called sex cult.

By: David Dennison

Bronfman, 40, “admitted Friday in a federal court in Brooklyn to harboring an undocumented immigrant for financial gain and committing credit card fraud on behalf of Keith Raniere, the leader of the Nxivm group. Prosecutors say some members of the group were forced to have sex with Raniere and were branded with his initials,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

The high-profile case has had a little something for everyone, including court room histrionics, as the defendant fainted earlier today when the judge “asked if she was being secretly represented by embattled celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti in a case where she is charged with money laundering and identity theft involving the alleged sex-cult NXIVM,” noted CNBC.

Bronfman will not be forced to go on trial alongside the reputed cult leader in May, since she has accepted a plea deal. The heiress is looking at two-plus years behind bars and having to give up approximately $6 million – pocket change, considering that the Bronfman fortune has been estimated by some at being ine excess of $200 million. She is due for sentencing on July 25.

“Your honor, I was afforded a great gift by my grandfather and father,” Bronfman said as part of her testimony. “With the gift comes immense privilege and, more importantly, tremendous responsibility. It does not come with an ability to break the law.”

As part of the plea deal, Bronfman admitted under oath that she had, indeed, hidden someone who was living in the United States illegally for unpaid “labor and services.” She also admitted to committing credit card fraud while working for Keith Raniere, who led the Nxivm cult based in upstate New York.

Bronfman, the daughter of the late philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr., “told the judge she was trying to help people. Nxivm described itself as a “self-help” organization, but according to officials, it was actually a cult that branded members and forced them into having sex with Raniere,” according to The Forward.

Bronfman’s late father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., was “a scion and longtime head of the Seagram’s Company, at one point the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. Bronfman was president of the World Jewish Congress for many years and was a major supporter of an array of Jewish causes, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, where he was a board member, and JTA’s partner site MyJewishLearning, which he founded in 2003,” JTA reported.

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