Search The Archives

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Claire Bronfman: Charged With Racketeering Conspiracy Associated with NXIVM (Criminal Complaint Linked)

Founder Of “Nxivm,” a Purported Self-Help Organization, and Five Others Charged in Superseding Indictment with Racketeering Conspiracy

New Defendants Include the President of Nxivm and Members of its Executive Board

A superseding indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Kathy Russell, Lauren Salzman and Nancy Salzman with racketeering conspiracy involving an array of crimes, including identity theft, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.  Bronfman, Russell, Lauren Salzman and Nancy Salzman were arrested this morning.  Bronfman will be arraigned this afternoon before United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn.  Russell and the Salzmans will be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge David J. Stewart in Albany, New York.  Raniere and Mack were previously arrested on the original indictment and will be arraigned on the superseding indictment tomorrow before Judge Garaufis in Brooklyn. 
Raniere, who founded several pyramid-structured organizations including Nxivm, a purported self-help organization for women, and various related entities, and Mack, a high-ranking member of Nxivm, were previously charged with sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy in an indictment filed April 20, 2018.  Bronfman, a member of Nxivm’s executive board; Russell, Nxivm’s former bookkeeper; Lauren Salzman, a member of Nxivm’s executive board; and Nancy Salzman, the president of Nxivm, were charged for the first time in the superseding indictment.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the superseding indictment.
“As alleged in the superseding indictment, for over a decade, Keith Raniere was the leader of a racketeering conspiracy in which he and members of his inner circle 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,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This Office and the FBI will continue to investigate and prosecute those who prey on others to such destructive effect.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the FBI for leading the investigation, and thanked the New York State Police, the FBI Albany Field Office, the New York State Office of the Attorney General, the New York State Department of Health, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York for their assistance with the investigation.
“As alleged, this long-running conspiracy crossed multiple avenues of criminal activity, which included, among other things, electronic monitoring; identity theft; extortion; victim smuggling; and illegal trafficking of a victim after a period of unlawful confinement. The details of these alleged crimes become more and more grim as we continue to dig deeper into the conduct of this organization and its intended mission,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “Today’s superseding indictment highlights our commitment to bringing justice to Nxivm’s many victims.”
The superseding indictment alleges that from at least 2003 through the present, Raniere and his inner circle of co-defendants comprised an organized racketeering enterprise engaged in criminal activities with the aim of promoting, enhancing and protecting Raniere and members of the enterprise by recruiting others into Nxivm and DOS for financial and personal benefits.  Those criminal activities included the following:
  • Raniere and Bronfman conspired to commit identity theft arising out of a scheme to obtain the e-mail usernames and passwords of perceived enemies and critics of Raniere in order to monitor their electronic communications. 
  • Raniere and Bronfman participated in an identity theft conspiracy involving the use of credit card and banking information belonging to one of Raniere’s sexual partners after her death in November 2016.  Bronfman sent Raniere regular emails documenting expenses charged to the woman’s credit card for Raniere’s “review and approval.”  Those expenses included payments to a chiropractor for Raniere’s benefit, as well as thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing and shoe purchases for the mother of Raniere’s child.
  • Bronfman encouraged and induced the illegal entry into the United States of an alien for Bronfman’s financial gain, engaging in international wire transfers to make it fraudulently appear that the victim had the financial resources to obtain an investor visa.
  • Raniere and Lauren Salzman trafficked a victim, who was once a sexual partner of Raniere’s, for labor and services.  The victim was confined to a room in Clifton Park, New York, for nearly two years as punishment for having romantic feelings for a man who was not Raniere.  The victim was told that if she left the room she would be sent to Mexico without any identification documents.  As threatened, she was driven to Mexico and her family was instructed by co-conspirators, including Lauren Salzman, not to send the victim her identification documents.   
  • Raniere and Lauren Salzman obtained property and services from their slaves through fraud and extortion.  After DOS was exposed, Salzman was one of the leaders of a disinformation campaign designed to spread lies about DOS and Nxivm members in order to discredit victims.
  • Nancy Salzman, in her role as second-in-command to Raniere within Nxivm, conspired with Raniere and others to obstruct justice by altering records in connection with a civil lawsuit initiated by Nxivm against a former Nxivm student.  As part of the discovery in the former student’s countersuit, Nancy Salzman was ordered to turn over videos of courses the student had taken.  Nancy Salzman engaged in a scheme to edit videos of courses she had taught to remove materials that she and her co-conspirators believed would have supported the former student’s claims.
  • Raniere and Russell conspired to commit identity theft as part of a scheme to smuggle an alien into the United States through Canada after the alien was denied entry.  Russell provided the alien with an identification card bearing the last name and birthday of a dead woman. 
The charges in the superseding indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for racketeering conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, as well as a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment for the identity theft conspiracy charge.  In addition, Raniere and Mack each face mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment, on related charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. 
The government’s investigation is ongoing. 
The government’s case is being handled by the office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Moira Kim Penza and Tanya Hajjar are in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Karin Orenstein is in charge of forfeiture proceedings in connection with the case. 
The Defendants:
KEITH RANIERE (also known as “Vanguard”)
Age:  57
Waterford, New York
CLARE BRONFMAN
Age:  39
Clifton Park, New York
ALLISON MACK
Age:  35
Brooklyn, New York
KATHY RUSSELL
Age:  60
Clifton Park, New York
LAUREN SALZMAN
Age:  42
Clifton Park, New York
NANCY SALZMAN (also known as “Prefect”)
Age:  64
Clifton Park, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-204 (NGG) (S-1)

_______________________________________________________________________

Founder of “NXIVM,” a Purported Self-Help Organization, and Actor Indicted for Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor Conspiracy

Defendants Allegedly Branded Their Victims and Forced Them to Participate in Sex Acts

Actor Allison Mack was arrested this morning on an indictment unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging her and Keith Raniere, also known as “Vanguard,” with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy.  Mack will be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak.  Raniere was previously arrested on a complaint and ordered detained.  Raniere will be arraigned on a date to be determined.     
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the charges.
“As alleged in the indictment, Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants’ benefit.  This Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting  predators who victimize others through sex trafficking and forced labor.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the FBI for leading the investigation, and thanked the New York State Police, the FBI Albany Field Office, the New York State Office of the Attorney General, the New York State Department of Health and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York for their assistance.
“Today we announce an additional arrest, and an indictment, in a case that brought to light an inconceivable crime,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “As this pyramid scheme continues to unravel, we ask anyone who might have been a victim to reach out to us with information that may further our investigation.”
Nxivm and The Source
According to court filings, during the past 20 years, Raniere established a series of purported self-help programs within his umbrella organization “Nxivm” (pronounced NEX-i-um).  Nxivm is based in Albany, New York and has operated centers in the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America.  Nxivm maintains features of a pyramid scheme, as its courses cost thousands of dollars each and participants (“Nxians”) are encouraged to pay for additional classes and to recruit others to take classes in order to rise within the ranks of Nxivm.  A number of Nxians were residents of the Eastern District of New York when they were recruited, and Nxivm has held promotional recruiting events in Brooklyn.  Mack is credited in publicly available materials with co-creating a Nxivm program, called The Source, which recruited actors.   
As detailed in court filings, in 2015, Raniere created a secret society within Nxivm called “DOS,” an acronym that stands for a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions,” or “The Vow.”  DOS operated with levels of women “slaves” headed by “masters.”  Slaves were expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in turn owed service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid.  Raniere stood alone at the top of the pyramid.  Other than Raniere, all members of DOS were women.  Mack is one of the women in the first level of the pyramid immediately below Raniere. 
Mack and other DOS masters recruited DOS slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses that the Nxivm curriculum taught were common in women.  Mack and other DOS masters concealed Raniere’s status at the top of the pyramid from new recruits. 
As a pre-condition to joining DOS, women were required to provide “collateral,” which included highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit’s assets.  DOS slaves were told that their collateral could be released for any number of reasons, including telling anyone about DOS’s existence or leaving DOS.  Many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas using a cauterizing pen with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, incorporated Raniere’s initials.  During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and a master would order one slave to film the branding while the others restrained the slave being branded. 
According to court filings, Mack directly or implicitly required her slaves, including Jane Does 1 and 2, as identified in the Indictment, to engage in sexual activity with Raniere.  In exchange for this, Mack received financial and other benefits from Raniere.  Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 believed that if they did not participate in those activities with Raniere, their collateral would be released. 
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted of the crimes charged, Raniere and Mack each face mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment.      
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Moira Kim Penza and Tanya Hajjar are in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Karin Orenstein is in charge of the forfeiture portion of the case.
The Defendants:
KEITH RANIERE (also known as “Vanguard”)
Age:  57
Residence: Waterford, New York
ALLISON MACK
Age: 35
Residence: Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-204 (NGG)
If you have information regarding this case, or you believe you or a family member may have been a victim, please contact the FBI at 212-384-1000.