It sounds like the crazy plot to a television show, and it even includes TV actresses: a professional development, self-help, multi-level marketing scheme morphs into a cult/sex trafficking/racketeering operation for the benefit of people with codenames "Vanguard" and "Prefect," all largely funded by a liquor heiress.
Clare Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram's liquor fortune was arrested, arraigned, and released on $100 million bond for her involvement in the sex slave pyramid scheme, which allegedly involved human trafficking, identity theft, sextortion, and an actress from "Smallville."
The Purpose of the Enterprise
The charges all center around Keith Raniere and his international professional-development group NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"), which offered expensive seminars that one specialist called "expensive brainwashing." Bronfman served on NXIVM's executive board from 2009-2018, and is believed to have funded Raniere's lifestyle and projects. Those projects included a sub-scheme within NXIVM called "DOS" or "The Vow" that recruited women into branding (the literal, with a cauterizing pen kind of branding) and sex slavery.
"The principal purpose of the Enterprise," according to the federal indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York, "was to obtain financial and personal benefits for the members of the Enterprise by promoting the defendant Keith Raniere, also known as "Vanguard," and by recruiting new members into the Pyramid Organizations," including DOS. Bronfman and others are accused of:
Promoting, enhancing and protecting the Enterprise by committing, attempting and conspiring to commit crimes, including but not limited to identity theft, harboring of aliens for financial gain, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice;
Demanding absolute commitment to Raniere, including by exalting Raniere's teachings and ideology, and not tolerating dissent;
Inducing shame and guilt in order to influence and control members and associates of the Enterprise;
Obtaining sensitive information about members and associates of the Enterprise in order to maintain control over them;
Recruiting and grooming sexual partners for Raniere;
Using harassment, coercion and abusive litigation to intimidate and attack perceived enemies and critics of Raniere; and
Encouraging associates and others to take expensive NXIVM courses, and incur debt to do so, as a means of exerting control over them and to obtain financial benefits for the members of the Enterprise.
Next Up for NXIVM
Specifically, Bronfman has been charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit identity theft, racketeering, inducing illegal entry of an alien, and money laundering. Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Bronfman was a flight risk because of $200 million net worth (half of which is tied up in a trust), a private jet, and an island she owns in Fiji.
Oh yeah -- the "Smallville" actress? That's Allison Mack, a regular on the show for ten years, who was arrested in April on charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy for her role in recruiting and forcing women into sex with Raniere.