MK10ART's wonderful painting of Clare Bronfman.

Clare Bronfman’s plea hearing & complete allocution: ‘I endeavored to do good in the world and to help people, however, I have made mistakes’

Clare Bronfman, an heiress of the Seagram’s fortune and the Director of Operations for Nxivm, pleaded guilty on April 19, 2019, on Good Friday, in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis presided. For the government, Assistant US Attorneys, Moira Kim Penza, Tanya Hajjar, and Mark Lesko appeared.

For the heiress, Mark Geragos, and Kate Cassidy appeared, along with Clare Bronfman.

Here are some excerpts from the transcript of the hearing, including Bronfman’s entire allocution.

***
THE COURT: Ms. Bronfman, your attorney advises me that you wish to plead guilty to a superseding information pursuant to a plea agreement, and I have certain information that I have to provide you in advance of taking your plea, and I have to ask you some questions.

Clare was sworn in.

THE COURT: Okay. Please state your full name.

THE DEFENDANT: Clare Webb Bronfman.

THE COURT: Middle name is?

THE WITNESS: Webb, W-E-B-B.

THE COURT: And how old are you?

THE DEFENDANT: I’m 40 years old.

THE COURT: Okay. And how far did you go in school?

THE DEFENDANT: I went to the 11th grade, halfway through 11th grade, high school.

THE COURT: Where did you go to school?

THE DEFENDANT: Predominately in England, and then I went one year and a half in America.

THE COURT: Where?

THE DEFENDANT: One year and a half in America at Taft, and then in Charlottesville, Virginia

THE COURT: I see. And what country are you a citizen?

THE DEFENDANT: Of this country, United States.

THE COURT: Okay. Is English your primary language?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor, it is.

THE COURT: Now, have you recently or are you currently or recently been under the care of a physician or psychiatrist, or been hospitalized or treated for any narcotics addiction?

THE DEFENDANT: No, Your Honor, I haven’t.

THE COURT: Okay. Have you taken any drugs, medicine, or pills or drunk any alcoholic beverages in the last 24 hours?

THE DEFENDANT: No, Your Honor, I haven’t.

***

THE COURT: Now, the superseding information charges you with two counts. The first count is conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain. Have you discussed that charge with your attorneys?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor, I have.

THE COURT: All right. And the second count is fraudulent use of identification. Have you discussed that charge with your attorneys?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay. And, Mr. Geragos, in your view, does your client understand these charges that have been brought against your client in the superseding information?

MR. GERAGOS: Yes, Your Honor, we discussed it. Outside counsel discussed it. Expert counsel discussed it. It’s been a very thorough — and we’ve discussed it with the government. It’s been a very thorough back and forth.

***

THE COURT: Miss Bronfman, are you satisfied with the assistance your attorneys have given you thus far in this matter?

THE DEFENDANT: I am extremely.

***

THE COURT: I’m going to go over the charges with you. Charge One of the superseding information is for conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain, and it reads as follows:

In or about and between October 2015 and January 2018… the defendant, Clare Bronfman, together with others, knowingly and in reckless disregard of the fact that one or more aliens had come to enter and remained in the United States through violation of law, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to conceal, harbor and shield from detection such aliens….

Do you understand the charge in Count One of the superseding information?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: I’m going to ask the government to set forth the elements of the crime that the government would have to prove to a jury unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you of Count One if you decided to go to trial.

MS. PENZA: Thank you, Your Honor.

For Count One …  conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain, which is based on the same core conduct as Racketeering Act Eleven of Count Two in the second superseding indictment, the government would prove that:

In or about and between October 2015 and January 2018, in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere: …  there was an agreement between Clare Bronfman and others to conceal or harbor an illegal alien for financial gain, and that Clare Bronfman knowingly and intentionally became a member of the conspiracy.

…. that Jane Doe 12… was in the United States in violation of law because she was in the United States on a work visa that had been procured through false statements by Clare Bronfman.

…. Bronfman’s housing of Jane Doe 12 substantially facilitated Jane Doe 12’s ability to remain in the United States.

… Bronfman’s harboring of Jane Doe 12 was to obtain Jane Doe 12’s labor and services for Bronfman, and for one of the NXIVM organizations in which Bronfman held a financial interest without paying Jane Doe 12….

***

THE COURT: Miss Bronfman, do you understand the elements of the crime that the government would have to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, and unanimously in order to convict you of the crime charged in Count One of the superseding information?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay. Let’s move on to Count Two. Count Two alleges fraudulent use of identification, and it reads as follows, quote:

In or about and between November 2016 and March 2018…  the defendant, Clare Bronfman, together with others, did knowingly and intentionally transfer, possess and use without lawful authority… one or more means of identification of another person to wit:  Jane Doe 7 [Pamela Cafritz], an individual whose identity is known to the United States Attorney, with the intent to commit and aid and abet and in connection with unlawful activity that constituted one or more violations of federal law, to wit: Attempted tax evasion … resulting in the obtaining of things of value aggregating $1,000 or more during a one-year period, end quote.

So do you understand the charge that has been brought against you in Count Two?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

***
THE COURT: … I’m going to ask the government to set forth the elements of the crime that would be required in order to convict you.

MR. PENZA: For Count Two of the third superseding information, fraudulent use of identification, which is based on the same core conduct as Racketeering Act Fourteen of Count Two in the second superseding indictment, the government would prove … between November 2016 and March 2018, in the Northern District of New York and elsewhere: …

…. Clare Bronfman knowingly caused the use of the name and credit card number belonging to Jane Doe 7, [Cafritz] …  by facilitating Keith Raniere’s use of Jane Doe 7’s credit card after Jane Doe 7 died.

Second, that the defendant did so without lawful authority. Here the government would prove that Jane Doe 7 was deceased, and that no one had lawful authority to use her credit card.

Third, that the defendant aided or abetted tax evasion. Here the government would prove that by facilitating Keith Raniere’s use of Jane Doe 7’s credit card, Bronfman aided and abetted tax evasion by Keith Raniere as part of a scheme to allow him to falsely portray himself as a renunciate and to not pay taxes on his income and assets….

THE COURT: So, Miss Bronfman, do you understand the elements of the crime….?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

***

THE COURT: I have in front of me a plea agreement in United States of America against Clare Bronfman, 18-CR-204-S3. It’s marked as Court’s Exhibit Number 1. It’s dated today, April 19th, 2019, and it consists of 11 pages…  Miss Bronfman, have you read this document?

THE DEFENDANT: I have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: And have you discussed it with your attorneys?

THE DEFENDANT: I have, Your Honor.

***

THE COURT: Now, I’m going to go over the statutory penalties associated with pleading guilty to these crimes. The statutory penalties are set forth in paragraph 1 of the plea agreement.

As to Count One, conspiracy to conceal and harbor aliens for financial gain, the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years…. there is no minimum term of imprisonment. The maximum supervised release term is three years, which would follow any term of imprisonment…. There’s a maximum fine of $250,000.

Restitution. With regard to restitution, the parties agree that restitution in the amount of $96,605.25 payable to … Jane Doe 12… should be ordered by the Court…

Do you understand the statutory penalties associated with pleading guilty to Count One?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

THE COURT: With regard to Count Two, fraudulent use of identification, the maximum term of imprisonment is 15 years. There’s no minimum term of imprisonment. The maximum supervised release term is three years, which would follow any term of imprisonment…. The maximum fine is the greater of $250,000, or twice the gross gain, or twice the gross loss. Restitution is mandatory in the full amount of each victim’s losses as determined by the Court….

Sentence is imposed … on the two counts can run consecutively or concurrently. You understand the statutory penalties associated with pleading guilty to Count Two of the superseding information?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

THE COURT: At this point, I’m going to discuss the sentencing process with you, Miss Bronfman. Mr. Geragos, have you discussed sentencing with your client?

MR. GERAGOS: I have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: And in your view, does Miss Bronfman have a basic understanding about how sentencing would work in her case?

MR. GERAGOS: More than basic.

THE COURT: Okay. Miss Bronfman, have your attorneys answered all your questions about the sentencing process?

MR. GERAGOS: They have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: And do you believe you have a basic understanding, at least a basic understanding about how sentencing would work in your case?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Well, I’m going to discuss it with you as well.

THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.

THE COURT: And if at any point you wish to consult with your attorneys, just let me know, we’ll stop, and you can have a conversation with your attorneys. We’re in no hurry.

THE DEFENDANT: Thank you. I appreciate it.

***
THE COURT: Now, the government has made a prediction as to the calculation of your guideline. Let me understand this, Ms. Penza. Assuming the defendant pleads guilty today and accepts responsibility, the government is predicting that the defendant will have an adjusted offense level of 16, and assuming she is in Criminal History Category I, that her guideline would be 21 to 27 months in the custody of the Attorney General. Is that your current prediction?

MR. PENZA: Yes, it is, Your Honor.

THE COURT: You understand the government’s current prediction?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Now, in this plea agreement letter that’s dated today, April 19th, 2019 …  there is an agreement regarding your right to appeal your sentence.

The agreement letter says, and I want to make sure you understand this, that by signing this agreement, you agree not to appeal, or in any other way challenge the sentence I impose upon you if it is 27 months or less. If I were to sentence to you more than 27 months in jail, and you believe there was a legal or other error in my doing that, you would then have the right to appeal your sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Do you understand that you have the right to appeal only if I sentence you to more than 27 months?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

THE COURT: Do you understand that even if the sentence I give is you more severe than what you may be thinking or hoping you will receive, you are still going to be bound by your guilty pleas and not permitted to withdraw them, and you will not be able to challenge or appeal that sentence as long as it is 27 months or less, as we have discussed?

THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.

***

THE COURT: Do you know of any reason why your client should not enter pleas of guilty to these charges?

MR. GERAGOS: None.

THE COURT: Are you aware of any viable legal defenses to these charges?

MR. GERAGOS: Well, depends on your definition of viability. But, no, I think this is clearly —

THE COURT: Do you want to talk about definitions of viability?

MR. GERAGOS: No, I don’t.

THE COURT: I’ll get my dictionary.

MR. GERAGOS: She falls squarely within the two counts. The activity falls squarely within the two counts.

THE COURT: All right. Very well. Anything else before I proceed to the allocution and taking the plea?

MS. PENZA: Your Honor, if we could just ask to putting on the record the forfeiture judgment, and that it will be paid within 60 days of today, in paragraph 6?

***

THE COURT: … Now, in paragraph 6 of the plea agreement, Miss Bronfman consents to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $6 million. And this is in lieu … of the forfeiture of actual property?

MS. PENZA: Yes, that’s correct.

THE COURT: I’m sorry, real property? [real estate]

MS. PENZA: That’s correct, Your Honor.

THE COURT: I see. So the $6 million is in lieu of the forfeiture of items of real property.

MS. PENZA: Correct.

***

THE COURT: …. Are you ready to plead at this time?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay. How do you plead to the charge contained in Count One of the superseding information charging you with conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain?

THE DEFENDANT: I plead guilty, Your Honor.

THE COURT: How do you plead to the charge contained as Count Two of the superseding information charging you with fraudulent use of identification, guilty or not guilty?

THE DEFENDANT: Guilty, Your Honor.

***

THE COURT: All right. So at this point I’d like you to tell the Court, briefly in your own words, what you did to commit — Are we going to do them separately or together?

MR. GERAGOS: Together.

THE COURT: Together. — these two crimes. So what I’d like you to do, you have a prepared allocution, which I take it you have discussed with your attorneys?

THE DEFENDANT: I have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay. So what I’d like you to do is slowly read your allocution. All right. And you’ve gone over these with your attorneys?

THE DEFENDANT: I have, yes.

THE COURT: But it is your statement.

THE DEFENDANT: Correct.

THE COURT: Okay. Please go ahead.

THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.

Your Honor, I was afforded a great gift by my grandfather and my father. With the gift comes immense privilege, and more importantly, tremendous responsibility. It does not come with the ability to break the law, it comes with a great responsibility to uphold the law. I failed to uphold the following laws set forth by this country, and for that I’m truly remorseful.

Between approximately October 2015 and January 2018, along with others, I did harbor an individual who I knew had remained in the United States in violation of the law. I substantially facilitated her to live and work in our country in a way that would be undetected, and I was wrong. She did work for me and businesses I was affiliated with, so her work was a financial benefit to me.

Additionally, I was wrong to facilitate the use of someone’s credit card who had passed away. Between approximately November 2016 and March 2018, I knowingly facilitated the use by another person of a deceased person’s credit card, and the use of that person’s bank account to the pay the bills for the credit card which were more than a thousand dollars.

My office and I handled the logistics of payment of the credit card bill from the bank account, and the person using the credit card did not intend to pay taxes on the income received in the form of payment for goods purchased on the credit card.

I meant no harm in either case, however, that does not justify my actions nor their affects, and for this I am truly sorry. I endeavored to do good in the world and to help people, however, I have made mistakes. This experience has taught me the gravity of my responsibility, and I will take these lessons forward in every future decision. Thank you.

***

THE COURT: Very well. Based on the information that you’ve given me, Miss Bronfman, I find that you were acting voluntarily, that you fully understand the charges, your rights, and the consequences of your pleas; there is, moreover, a factual basis for each of your pleas, I, therefore, accept your pleas of guilty to Counts One and Two of the superseding information. I’m going to set a sentencing date of Wednesday, July 31st, 2019.

MR. GERAGOS: I have that case in Utah which starts on the 29th of July. Is there any way to do it either the week before?

THE COURT: Sure. Is the Government available the week before?

MR. PENZA: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Wednesday, July 24th.

MR. GERAGOS: Thank you.

THE COURT: How long is that trial going to take you?

MR. GERAGOS: Eight to ten weeks.

THE COURT: Let’s make it Thursday, July 25th, at 2:30 p.m.

***

THE COURT: And is there anything else from the government?

MR. PENZA: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Bail remains in place.

MR. PENZA: Yes, Your Honor.

MR. GERAGOS: Thank you very much.

THE COURT: All right. Thank you very much. Have a nice day.

***

Editor’s Note: In reviewing the transcript of Clare’s plea hearing, we noted what appears to be a garble in Judge Garaufis’ explanation regarding the purpose of the hearing. At one point, he says: “Okay. Miss Bronfman, your attorney advises me that you wish to plead guilty to Counts One and Two of the superseding indictment in which you are charged. This is a serious decision and I must be certain that you make it with a full understanding of your rights and the consequences of your plea. I’m going to explain certain rights to you, and I’m going to ask you questions”.

Later, he makes it clear that Clare pleaded guilty to the two counts in the “superseding information”, not Count One and Count Two of the second superseding indictment. In this regard, a “superseding information” is another way to bring criminal charges against an individual – and, as Clare did in this case, requires the defendant to waive indictment on the charges by a grand jury.

As far as we can tell at this point, the charges in the “superseding information” replaced the second superseding indictment in Clare’s case. But we’re working to clarify that point – and will post an “update” when we have one. 

 

About the author

Frank Parlato

Frank Report’s founder and lead writer Frank Parlato is one of the internet’s most decorated investigative journalists. His writing and investigations have helped expose major criminal organizations and scandals.

Frank’s work has been cited in major publications all over the world, including The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Rolling Stone, and more.

He is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Artvoice, The Niagara Falls Reporter, Front Page and the South Buffalo News.

24 Comments

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  • It’s a good thing for Clare that she wasn’t throwing her riches around during the French Revolution, she would have lost her head. Instead, she gets to go live in Martha Stewart comfort with like-minded rich criminals for a few months, who will treat her great hoping a few bucks will fall from her coattail. That 6 mil cash means she doesn’t lose her home. Thank goodness, Muffy, that would be so-o-o embarrassing..

  • Well, she said Raniere intended to commit tax evasion, so there’s that. She just admitted to aiding him in his tax evasion. I hope Heidi is right, and this is far from over.

  • I believe this article is the first article written by Frank Parlato that I am unable to read.

    It’s so incredible disgusting that the DOJ did not bother to obtain restitution for many of the victims of NXIVM.

    Just as Krclaviger pointed out the victims have been left to fend for the selves. Restitution of less than $100,000 for 1 individual is not just.

    The DOJ will have to treat the other defendants with the sam leniency Clare had been treated with as not to give the look of impropriety or inequality.

    ***********
    Please note::

    Throughout the history of civilization no matter what form of government or economic system a society has in place there has always been 2 classes of people.

    I will always choose our system of capitalist democracy, the imperfections, over all other forms of government.

    • Can they treat the other defendants with the same leniency? The other two already plead guilty to two counts of racketeering which are way more serious charges. I can only imagine how livid they are.

  • If she spent so much time in England in a school during term time and with an English mother surely she holds duel citizenship? The schooling bit is a bit foggy. Would this sort of thing matter?

  • If she spent so much time in England in a school during term time and with an English mother surely she holds dual citizenship? The schooling bit is a bit foggy. Would this sort of thing matter?

  • Even rich girls get manipulated. Half way through 11. She’d probably feel vulnerable about her education. Being treated like an equal by the worlds smartest problem solver would be a terrific draw.

  • Hot tip for Clare: one does not endeavor to do good by harassing and trying to destroy people with lawsuits. Just sayin…

  • I am completely amazed that Clare, who only went to school as far as “half” of the eleventh grade, was so brilliant to beat most of the very serious charges. Those NXIVM courses must produce geniuses. Who needs college?

  • 27 months. Basically nothing. She is an elitist and will receive the punishment of an elitist. Perhaps even have her sentence reduced because she has been at home for a bit and that is considered punishment.

  • “I failed to uphold the following laws set forth by this country, and for that I’m truly remorseful.” I’m hung up on this sentence – really, the “set forth by this country” part. Silly USA laws mucking up your flow. Should have stayed in Mexico or fled to France like Sissy Sara or best yet, to Fiji. Prediction: as soon as Clare is able, she’s outta the US for good.

      • it is true how they dare to tread the land of the country that created and launched the first atomic bomb, where cults and serial killers flourish everywhere, where people remember Watergate but forget Wikileaks, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden and that is the home of the most macabre and sinister intelligence and espionage agency in the history of modern civilization, is basically the shield of the real world, but not because of technology and logistics but because it is more infiltrated by other groups with their own agendas and nefarious as they are the hydra of marvel, since they are more the skeletons in the closet and the grime under the alfonbra than the good things to tell about it.

        • …and where people like this are free to announce their woo-woo view of the world without fear of the Gulag or poison or getting their head chopped off, and where women can go to school and send criminals to prison for rape instead of themselves being stoned for “adultery”. And I suppose you wouldn’t mind your father killed invading Japan, before you were even conceived? Imagine a country that failed to capitulate after their cities were burned horribly even before the A-bomb, whose people were suffering for lack of supplies especially of oil and food because US subs sank all their shipping, whose army was cut off and dying in a hundred isolated outposts reduced to trying to grow food, or resigning themselves to disease and starvation, whose navy and air forces were being sent on suicide missions, who still did not surrender after the first A-bomb, whose soldiers and medical “researchers” continued to the very end to commit atrocities on prisoners and so-called comfort women who were just sex slaves, and worst of all allowed their people to suffer again a second A-bomb.

          I think you have no idea of the evil that Japan inflicted on the world. They deserved ten times the number of A-bombs they were sent, and the only reason they could not be hit with national nuclear storm was there were only those two bombs available.

        • I think you have no idea of the evil that the Japs did in WW II, nor of the history of Japan’s deadly aggression even before Pearl. A couple of A-bombs were child’s play compared to the bloodbath created by the Japanese, from Manchuria to Guadalcanal and all points in between. Only Stalin and Hitler were in the same league. Germany suffered as much as those two A-bombs. Japan was torturing and killing their prisoners and sex slaves up to and after they formally surrendered. It was not a time to worry about niceties, and those A-bombs were barely more powerful than the incendiary raids which Japan ignored, letting their people die rather than ending a war that really ended the moment they bombed Pearl, and certainly at Midway and Guadalcanal.

          As for the rest of your woo-woo idiocy, remember in this country it is your right to speak even this nonsense. Spout that crap in a few other countries and you lose your freedom, or your head, or get stoned, or poisoned, or shot, or worse.

          • old, to say that two atomic bombs was just a children’s game and deserved 100 bombs, only refines my argument, if you realize you speak of a country committing the right to eliminate another country, I do not know about you but that seems to me to be what Hitler accuses and certainly the level of destructive power of the bombs is not only because today more powerful bombs are made, an atomic exploit is always terrible at more than one level, I assure you that if the history were around the Americans would not remember it as a thing scarcely more powerful than an incendiary raid, oh and another thing I referred to in my original argument to the fact that it is the custom of the USA to see only the pretty part of the image I ignore the ugly part of the story and throw it under the carpet.

    • Yes, ‘set forth by this country..’ totally agree Le’gal!! to people as rich as the Bronfman’s, it’s as if Nation States are just corny eccentric resorts. Nothing is the same for them as it is for those of us working, paying tax, obeying laws, its like we’re just staff, even the upper echelons of the justice system – mere staff, though like good Maitre D’s, and upper management: greasing their palms can make life so much more effortless..

  • $6 million is probably about the cost to the government, and the public, of prosecuting the case, so that’s a fair starting point. Needless to say, it should have gone much farther than the additional $96K, but that will now be up for other courts, or civil actions, to take up.

    The admission of tax evasion is a reminder that, presumably, the IRS is eventually going to come along and pursue taxes and fines if not even criminal charges against Bronfman, Raniere, and perhaps others, as well as various NXIVM companies.

    • We definitely didn’t read the same allocutions then…

      You still need to get a hobby, Old man
      I really advise you to go for gardening, your envy to cut head will be fulfilled and you won’t hurt anyone (except the flowers).

      • excusez-moi, je ne veux pas être impoli, mais au lieu de ‘envy’ qui signifie autre chose en anglais, je pense que vous pouvez utiliser ‘wish’ ou ‘desire’

      • Anonymous, you stilll have not figured out that Clare paid for and coordinated the whole defense.

        Only Raniere’s mulish stubbornness guarantees that he will get ten years or more.

About Frank Parlato

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in major publications all over the world, including The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Fox News, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, and more.

Frank Report is dedicated to Frank's investigative journalism and the pursuit of truth.

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