Heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune and NXIVM funder Clare Bronfman was sentenced Wednesday to over six years in prison for her involvement in fraud and forced labor, according to several reports. The leading-member of the cult-like group is the first defendant to be sentenced in the NXIVM investigation, the New York Times reported.
Bronfman, 41, who was a member for 15 years of the Upstate New York-based group, was sentenced to six years and nine months for her role in holding women captive and coercing them into sexual slavery, the Times wrote.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said in the nearly four-hour hearing that Bronfman, who worked her way into the group's executive board, “used her incredible wealth and attempted to use her social status and connections not only to support NXIVM’s work, but also as a means of intimidating, threatening, and exacting revenge upon individuals who dared to challenge its dogma,” according to reports.
“I have made mistakes, I’m sorry for the time and resources I have taken from the court," the Daily News reported Bronfman said moments before her sentencing. “I’m immensely grateful and privileged because all over the world, people are praying for me because they know my goodness. It doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes."
During the hearing, Bronfman addressed a woman in the audience known only as Jane Doe 12.
“I am truly sorry for all your hardship and any pain I’ve caused you,” Bronfman said, calling Jane Doe 12 her “friend," the News reported.
Bronfman also pleaded guilty last year to credit card fraud on behalf of Raniere. She also admitted to illegally harboring a woman who was living in the U.S. on an expired visa for unpaid "labor and services," the outlet reported.
Raniere was convicted in June 2019 on charges of sex trafficking, forced labor, conspiracy, human trafficking, and multiple counts of racketeering including the exploitation of a child, according to NPR.
Bronfman provided NXIVM with over $100 million of her fortune to fund its projects plus an additional $67 million to leader Keith Raniere for investments, the News reported.
In addition to her sentencing, Judge Garaufis also imposed a $500,000 fine and was ordered to pay $96,605 to the victim, “Jane Doe 12," according to reports.
Ronald Sullivan, a lawyer for Bronfman, said he would appeal the sentence, calling it an “abomination," the Times reported. The heiress was taken into custody after the appearance to immediately begin her sentence.