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September 30, 2020

Heiress involved in NXIVM group gets way-above-guideline sentence

I have not really been following the NXIVM saga at all, but today brought a first federal sentencing case that caught my attention. This local article, headlined "Clare Bronfman receives more than six years for NXIVM crimes Federal judge exceeds sentence prosecutors had been seeking," provides these details:

Heiress Clare Bronfman was sentenced Wednesday to six years and nine months in federal prison for crimes related to her leadership role in NXIVM. She was taken directly into federal custody at the end of the court proceeding.

The sentence was handed down to the 41-year-old daughter of late Seagram's tycoon Edgar Bronfman in a Brooklyn courtroom after several victims related their painful experiences dealing with the well-heeled backer of Keith Raniere’s cult-like organization.

A number of former NXIVM members delivered victim impact statements to Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis. One of those women was Barbara Bouchey, a former girlfriend of Raniere's who faced years of retaliation by NXIVM after she left the group more than a decade ago. She called Garaufis' sentence justice served: “When I heard him say 81 months, I was speechless,” Bouchey said.

Bronfman, who has homes in Clifton Park and Manhattan, was anticipating a sentence of just 21 to 27 months in prison under sentencing guidelines for her guilty plea to conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain, and fraudulent use of identification.

Garaufis had made it clear he was considering an "above guidelines" punishment. Her recently hired attorneys, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Duncan Levin, have asked for three years of probation. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn’s Eastern District have asked for a five-year prison sentence. Garuafis went beyond both requests. He also levied a $500,000 fine on Bronfman.

Prosecutors said Bronfman, who was in NXIVM alongside her older sister, Sara Bronfman-Igtet, used her wealth to recruit immigrants – usually women – into NXIVM-related groups under the idea that they would get a scholarship or work. But Bronfman instead got a work-force of recruits desperate to earn a living and who were dependent on her and NXIVM to stay in the country.  Prosecutors have said Bronfman helped Raniere target the company’s perceived enemies, which included members of the organization who defected....

Raniere, 60, a longtime Halfmoon resident known in NXIVM as “Vanguard,” was convicted at trial last year of all charges, which included sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering charges that included underlying acts that included child exploitation, possession of child pornography, identity theft, extortion, fraud and other crimes.  He faces the possibility of life in prison at his sentencing on Oct. 27.

This New York Times article reporting on the sentencing notes why this case may end up in the Second Circuit: "Ronald Sullivan, a lawyer for Ms. Bronfman, said he would appeal the sentence, calling it an 'abomination'."

September 30, 2020 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

Comments

I think it would be wise to also note that Bronfman was convicted of Conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification. This is a classic case of the Judge using 18 USC 3661 and 1B1.4 information to give the defendant a higher sentence. This is legal, as evidenced by Witte and Watts Supreme Court cases. I can understand the outrage from defense counsel, but in my experience, this appeal will not be successful. The Judge, in my opinion, did a pretty good job explaining why he imposed the sentence he did (from what I have read from various news sources although I would like to read the sentencing transcript) and I find it hard to believe the defendant will prevail on her appeal. Regardless, I will continue to follow this case.

US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his hour-long reading of her sentence, that while she was not convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking and other charges as Raniere was, her case was "not about an isolated incident of credit card fraud or a run-of-the-mill case of harboring illegal aliens for financial gain."

"Ms. Bronfman's crimes were not committed in a vacuum," Garaufis said. "They were committed in connection with her role in Nxivm and her close relationship with Raniere, and I believe that it would be inappropriate for me to consider them divorced from that context."

Posted by: atomicfrog | Oct 1, 2020 7:54:30 AM

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