Bronfman Attorneys Say Clare Should Be Sentenced Only for Crimes She Plead Guilty to and no Victims Other Than Sylvie Should Be Allowed to Speak at Her Sentencing

Clare Webb Bronfman will be the star of a TNY special - but if she had her druthers she might avoid this honor.

BROOKLYN — Attorneys for Clare Bronfman, 41, filed a memorandum yesterday in response to federal prosecutors’ memorandum wherein prosecutors advised the judge to sentence the heiress to five years in prison.

Bronfman’s lawyers, Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. and Duncan Levin, expressed outrage at the length of the sentence prosecutors seek. They seek probation for Bronfman.

Bronfman is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30 before Judge Nicholas Garaufis for two admitted felony crimes of concealing and harboring an illegal alien for financial gain, and fraudulent using the identification of another.

She pleaded guilty in April 2019, a month prior to when she and Keith Alan Raniere were scheduled to go to trial.

At the time of her plea, the government estimated Bronfman was to face 21 to 27 months in prison.

In December, as the Pre-Sentencing Report was being prepared, the judge announced he was considering an “above guidelines” sentence for Bronfman.

Bronfman is currently subject to home arrest in her Manhattan apartment on $100 million bond.

Here are some excerpts from Bronfman’s lawyers’ latest memorandum. [My comments in brackets and bold.]

Read the entire memorandum

…. The government seeks to imprison Clare Bronfman for five years based on a number of assertions that are unproven and false and that Clare has never had the meaningful opportunity to contest. And they are seeking to do so in the midst of a global health pandemic….

Clare Bronfman pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement and took full responsibility for what she did. Now, more than two years after she was charged, the government is attempting to convict her through a sentencing memorandum of a wide swath of criminal activity based on assertions that are simply wrong and that Clare has never had the opportunity to address in any meaningful way.

This approach is without precedent and a violation of Clare’s right to fundamental due process…

[The Feds want Clare to have a longer sentence based on crimes she was not convicted of, based on a Pre-Sentencing Report that alleges more crimes.]

Since the government’s submission specifically attempts to rely on the PSR, which we believe is fundamentally flawed and incorrect, we renew our request for a Fatico hearing [A Fatico hearing is designed to allow the judge to determine whether allegations in a Government sentencing memorandum that are disputed by the defense should be considered in deciding punishment.]…

Clare is not seeking to delay sentencing [a Fatico hearing would delay sentencing]; on the contrary, she is ready to be sentenced for the crimes to which she pleaded guilty to as expeditiously as possible, since she has been under home confinement for the past 26 months, which has taken a heavy toll on her…..

The last two years have been the hardest in her life, and she has not been able to speak to or be with most of her closest friends and support network [Nxivm members] the entire time. Additionally, her family lives in Europe and, given the current state of the world, she has not seen them for nine months…..

An unfortunate number of the government’s allegations [of other crimes for which she was not convicted] are flatly and demonstrably wrong as a matter of fact. To rely on them [to sentence Clare] violates Clare’s due process rights.

What Clare did, we respectfully submit, should be punished with three years of probation…

The core of her conduct was violations of harboring an illegal alien and facilitating the use of someone’s credit card…

Nothing she was ever accused of, or convicted of, relates to the so-called “NXIVM case.”

[She probably did most of the crimes the government is alleging she did. However, she was not charged with them, nor convicted of them.  The argument is that she should not be sentenced for crimes she was not convicted of, but only for those crimes she actually plead guilty to.]

To be very clear, what the government is attempting to do, through its sentencing memorandum and its PSR [Pre-Sentencing Report] is to convict Clare of “fund[ing] and promot[ing] a criminal enterprise led by her co-defendant Keith Raniere.” … That is not what the plea agreement provided; that is not what in fact happened; and it is unfair and a violation of Clare’s fundamental rights under the Due Process clause….


…. Clare … is truly contrite and remorseful … for what she pleaded guilty to: namely, one count of conspiracy to conceal and harbor an alien [Sylvie] for financial gain …. and one count of fraudulent use of identification [Pam Cafritz’s credit card]

The government is seeking to further punish Clare for not being contrite about crimes she has never been charged with or been offered the due process to contest. We trust that the Court will reject the government’s clear attempt to falsely state that she has not acknowledged guilt…  She pleaded guilty and took full responsibility for what she did. She still does. She fully accepts this Court’s judgment of punishment, as she made plainly clear in her letter to Your Honor…

We hope to be clear in this assertion: Clare stands ready to be sentenced by this Court and is deeply sorry for her violations of law. That being said, Clare’s fervent hope is that the Court will see through the government’s blatant efforts to use unproven and incorrect assertions of fact – mostly elicited as uncontested “facts” in the trial of Keith Raniere (to which Clare was not a party) – as a basis for an upward enhancement…


What the government is trying to do in its sentencing submission is to pervert the process of ascertaining a fair and just punishment by casting a pall of innuendo over these proceedings in violation of Clare’s constitutional rights.

The government far oversteps by making claims like:

“Through her unwavering support of Raniere, financial and otherwise, Bronfman enabled him to perpetrate his crimes.” … The government’s filing seeks an upward variance to address “the extraordinary harm caused to the victims by her conduct,” … or because of her “obstructive conduct,”…

Let it be very clear: Clare Bronfman did not know about DOS, had nothing to do with DOS, and did not fund DOS. And when the government references “victims,” we fully acknowledge that the government will seek to bring crime victims to address the court in Mr. Raniere’s case; however, as to Clare Bronfman, there is only one victim of the conduct to which she pleaded guilty [Sylvie]: Clare’s conduct simply did not involve any additional victims, and we object to the government’s characterization otherwise. Clare Bronfman renounces sex trafficking and human trafficking in their entirety: full stop…

The United States is seeking to lay the blame for DOS at Clare Bronfman’s feet because she has a large checkbook… the government never charged Clare with anything related to human or sex trafficking and permitted her (and only one other defendant) to plead guilty to non-RICO charges…

Thus, the government’s sentencing submission relies on alleged conduct that: (1) is not what Clare was charged with; (2) is not what Clare pleaded guilty to; and  (3) is factually incorrect with respect to her role at NXIVM. It is a violation of due process to ask the Court to rely upon facts that we have never had a meaningful opportunity to explore and contest.

Clare should be sentenced based on the conduct she pleaded guilty to or facts that have been established through due process of law. The government should not be permitted to, in effect, bring new charges against Clare Bronfman in its sentencing memorandum…

The government and Probation largely rely on demonstrably false assertions of “fact” from Keith Raniere’s trial…

NXIVM and Mr. Raniere changed Clare’s life and she stands by both the organization and Mr. Raniere for the tremendous good they did for thousands of people. Clare stands by her friends, but she does not stand by sex trafficking, forced labor, or any other criminal conduct, period…

The entire [prosecution] filing is replete with issues and errors…

For example, the government writes that “[e]ven after Raniere’s conviction, Bronfman has continued to wire funds to the ‘KAR 2018 Trust,’ the trust she created for the benefit of Raniere and son…..  That is not true. … The truth is that Clare made two payments, both of $250,000, on June 4, 2018 and June 13, 2018, both prior to Clare’s arrest.

Keith Raniere was convicted on June 19, 2019. Furthermore, what is wrong with funding this trust anyway? The trust is for the sole benefit of a young child, whose father is in jail. Clare cares about the child and his mother and has known them for years. Nothing inures to Mr. Raniere’s benefit. Clare selflessly set up a trust to ensure that an innocent to all of this – a young child – would continue to have a roof over his head, food, education, and medical care. He is three years old.

“For many years,” the government writes, “Clare Bronfman used her extraordinary wealth and social status to fund and promote a criminal enterprise led by her co-defendant Keith Raniere.”…

Why is the government saying this now? It did not charge her with this behavior, and she did not plead to it. The government also says that that “[f]or years, Bronfman leveraged her colossal wealth to recruit individuals, often women with no legal status in the United States, into Nxivm-affiliated organizations.”… [She certainly did – as many illegal aliens know and have probably told the feds – but she wasn’t charged for this]…

As to how Clare allegedly used her wealth to further the aims the government alleges, its papers are silent on details….  The government is trying… to inflate Clare’s role [in Nxivm] so that the Court will see her as responsible.

The government seems somewhat unable to separate Clare’s support for NXIVM, an institution that she loved and continues to believe in, from her lack of knowledge of DOS. NXIVM is not DOS. DOS was a secret society that she knew nothing about…

The court noted… at a recent hearing that Clare Bronfman “wrote a lot of checks.” Clare does not deny this. But that does not mean that she had any idea of the activity that was revealed at Keith Raniere’s trial… While the government’s papers spill a lot of ink on rebutting a straw-man argument that Clare is asking for a special privilege at sentencing, the truth is that, because of Clare’s money, the Department of Justice is treating Clare differently from the other members of NXIVM’s leadership [because of her wealth]

The government’s memo is dripping with innuendo that Clare is somehow asking for “special treatment,”… because of her wealth, which she assuredly is not. In fact, quite to the contrary, she is being treated differently by the government than some of the less wealthy board members of NXIVM, since there is truly no difference between her involvement and theirs. If anyone is getting “special treatment,” it raises the question of why Clare Bronfman is singled out at every turn…  Along those lines, the government does seem quite interested in bringing up Clare’s wealth in irrelevant ways that appear to be done for the sole benefit of harming the Court’s opinion of her. For example, the government mentions that she showed “an astonishing lack of empathy for the financial struggles of others,”…  and that “[s]he is likely one of the most privileged and wealthy defendants to ever appear before this Court for sentencing.”…

The government conflates, at every turn, Clare’s generosity toward an organization whose mission was to help people better their lives, and that changed her life….

The United States writes that: “[w]hat is especially significant about Bronfman’s financial support of Raniere is that it was without any apparent limitation. When Raniere wished to invest in the commodities market, Bronfman simply gave him $67 million to do so—with no expectation that he would ever be in a position to pay her back (he didn’t). For this reason, Bronfman’s claim that she did not provide financial support for DOS or otherwise for Raniere’s “personal life,” … makes little sense. Bronfman funded Raniere in all of his endeavors, without question or limitation. The government respectfully submits that Bronfman’s continued loyalty to Raniere and her substantial financial resources suggest that specific deterrence is of unique concern in this case and counsels in favor of a substantial sentence.”…

Clare did not “simply g[i]ve” $67 million to Keith Raniere to invest in the commodities market…. In fact, this investment was made to cover calls in the commodities market that were going to financially harm a number of people that Clare cared about, so she made the investment to help them, and it certainly was not an easy or flippant decision. In the end, she lost money, but there was a good and caring reason that she made this investment. Not just “simply giving” Keith Raniere money. Furthermore, Mr. Raniere was very helpful to her in discussing investments, some of which she made money on, such as purchasing certain stocks….

[She certainly did not make money overall on Raniere’s advice. She inherited about $500 million and she has $200 million left. The loss was mostly from funding Raniere and Nxivm.]

As Clare’s letters attest, she is an incredibly generous person and giving person, and she loaned millions of dollars to an organization she deeply believed in….. It is further quite remarkable that the government seeks to undermine NXIVM’s legitimate work, and Clare’s charitable contributions, on behalf of individuals with Tourette’s Syndrome…

NXIVM is not a criminal organization. NXIVM has (appropriately) never faced criminal charges, and if NXIVM were truly a criminal organization, far more people associated with its leadership would have been prosecuted….

There are very many good and decent people who loved NXIVM and who benefitted immensely from its teachings…

Many alumni of ESP, including Clare Bronfman, never intended to hurt anyone, never intended to traffic people for sex, or to break the law in any way. That the government would enter into a plea with Clare Bronfman for two violations of unrelated law and then seek to bootstrap those charges into something significantly larger and more nefarious (i.e., that she funded a sex cult) is unfair and unjust…

The government has not produced – and cannot produce – one check or wire transfer that links Clare to DOS. The government has not produced – and cannot produce – one witness who says Clare recruited her to DOS. The government has not produced – and cannot produce – one witness who says that they told Clare about DOS in defiance of their “master’s” strict orders of secrecy… There is no evidence – anywhere – that anyone invited Clare to join DOS…

Accordingly, it is appropriate to pull every DOS reference from the PSR and cull it from the government’s sentencing submissions. The Court should not rely on any DOS reference. The only meaningful fact about DOS relevant to Clare is that it was purposefully kept secret from her….

The government continues to take issue with the fact that Clare set up a legal defense fund…. [to pay for Raniere and the other defendants’ attorneys] even though these were some of her best friends in the world and she could afford it, and went to great lengths to ensure it was properly administered and that she had absolutely no control of it…

The government also notes that Clare sought criminal charges against Sarah Edmondson, even though these were charges made in good faith. [She wanted to put her friend in prison because she blew the whistle on DOS]


A. The government is attempting to enlarge the criminal activity by alleging more than one victim and more than six aliens

The government is attempting to bootstrap far more serious charges against Clare with a disingenuous argument that her conduct involved six or more illegal aliens. Clare was never, in fact, charged with any offense that would involve more than one alien. Originally, as the Court is aware, she was charged with visa fraud…  for a false representation about payment to [Sylvie], which was the basis for the visa. Clare is sincerely sorry to for this. The government asked Clare to plead guilty instead to harboring an illegal alien… which she did in order to satisfy the government’s request that she forfeit $6 million. Now, they seek to enhance that criminal charge by arguing that Clare harbored six or more aliens, which is absolutely not the case…. [or at least not proven yet in a court of law.]

C. The government incorrectly asserts that Clare attempted to keep money out of Keith Raniere’s name

As to the identity theft charges, the government wrongfully and recklessly asserts that “Bronfman ignores that the fraudulent use of Pamela Cafritz’s identity was part of a long-running scheme to intentionally keep money out of Raniere’s name, thereby evading income tax requirements and making it difficult or impossible for creditors or the government to levy on those funds.” ….

That is not what Clare allocuted to, and that is not what happened.

To the contrary, at the time of the payments, Clare believed the money to belong to Mr. Raniere and never intended to keep it out of his name…


A. There is no basis to order restitution for or hear from multiple purported victims

The government is seeking to bring multiple crime victims in front of this Court and is asking the Court to order Clare to pay restitution to them. There is absolutely no basis for this.

Of course, crime victims should be heard, and we respectfully submit that the appropriate time for these individuals to address the Court will be at Keith Raniere’s sentencing and/or the civil case (for which most of them are plaintiffs) – not Clare’s sentencing. Here there is only one victim of the crimes to which Clare pleaded guilty or otherwise had any dealings at all: [Sylvie].

We object to the government’s request to have these individuals at Clare’s sentencing or to ask her to pay them any restitution for crimes that she did not commit…

Clare’s plea and the resulting offense of conviction was related to only one alien… Furthermore, these alleged victims were not named in the original indictment nor were they mentioned in Clare’s plea agreement in which she pled guilty to a criminal violation concerning the sole victim.

The government’s attempt to introduce previously unmentioned individuals and their statements in the sentencing hearing is inadmissible as it would violate Ms. Bronfman’s Fifth Amendment Due Process right.

Furthermore, many of the purported victims of Clare’s criminal activity are plaintiffs in ongoing civil litigation against her, and we believe that there are factual inaccuracies, as they relate to Clare’s conduct, in the letters that were submitted with the government’s memorandum. Thus, we believe the Court should not hear from these purported victims in Clare’s sentencing and should not order restitution for any victims other than [Sylvie]…


The government is seeking to put a non-violent, first-time offender in prison during a public health emergency and claims that the “September 2020” numbers are under control (even though the federal courthouse just shut down).

It is important to address the quite callous arguments by the United States with respect to COVID-19, in which they argue that the pandemic does not “supply[] a basis for leniency.”…

We disagree strongly that prison is appropriate in this case, not only because Clare is a first time, non-violent offender but also because sending her to prison right now is manifestly unjust. Furthermore, even if Clare is not in an at-risk health population, others in the prisons are, and given the prisons’ efforts to socially distance at-risk populations, there is no reason to add more bodies to the population now unless it is absolutely necessary.

[Bronfman’s lawyers then go on at length about COVID in prison and examples of prisoners being let out of prison because of COVID.]


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • What is the Federal law regarding what can be considered for sentencing? For example, in Massachusetts a person on probation is required to obey all the laws of Massachusetts and the United States. Failure to observe those laws could result in a violation of probation. It is well established in Mass case law that a conviction is not required to prove that a person violated the law. The Commonwealth need only present evidence acceptable to the presiding judge that such a violation took place.

    • Just found this:

      “Neither the Federal Rules of Evidence nor constitutional provisions related to evidentiary matters (e.g., the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment) apply at sentencing. Therefore, the court may consider hearsay and other types of information that would not be admissible during a trial.”

      From “Federal Sentencing: The Basics” at

  • Makes me mad that others (real first offenders) were charged with much worse crimes than her. And other main leaders were not charged at all. I don’t understand this at all! But it’s true it would be unjust to punish her for something that was not proven in court.

  • Sullivan is correct. Clare was not charged with funding a criminal enterprise but the prosecution wants to sentence her as if she was charged and convicted.

    Why was she not charged with funding Nxivm as a litigation machine that hurt the lives of many including Bouchey, Joe O’Hara, etc.? We’ve heard the argument that NDNY was incompetent or bought off but EDNY could have brought these charges. Why didn’t someone bring criminal charges?

    • Because the criminal activity regarding these other charges took place in the NDNY, they could not be prosecuted in the EDNY. Indeed, three of the original charges that were brought in the EDNY were dismissed because of a lack of jurisdiction – and referred to the NDNY.

      The NDNY has done nothing with the referrals it received from the EDNY. Just like it did nothing for almost 20 years regarding the various complaints and referrals it received from people who had been ripped off – or otherwise harmed – by NXIVM in that district.

      If nothing else, Raniere and his henchmen were very good at blackmailing, bribing and/or intimidating the NDNY attorneys.

  • The DOJ made a huge error by charging her with Immigration and fraud charges. They clearly should slam Clare with RICO. The optics of trying to backtrack at sentencing really don’t look good.

    • My guess is because Clare is a Bronfman, and she got the benefit of the rich Jewish family heritage, the name, and all that comes with it, to get a more lenient sentence, not explicitly of course because that wouldn’t be fair 😉 ;).

      The practical implementation of the principle justice is often bullshit in every country in the world. It’s just a matter of degree. Like almost everything now, it is tied to money which is king. If it was blind (as its symbol represents) then no matter how rich or how poor a person was, what their skin color is, whether they are male or female, etc., they would get the same time for the same crime.

  • The government only cares about the public perception of justice. Since this is a somewhat high profile case having been in the NY Times, they can’t permit the perception of leniency especially toward someone with money.

    Clare will get 24 months, possibly a bit more but it will be an easy prison and she will likely be able to get a quiet probational release after 4 months. She really should have expressed remorse for her involvement with NXIVM though instead of sounding like she plans on spending all of her time and money trying to get Keith out and resurrect the group. Her attorneys should be spanked and put in the dunce corner for letting that perception prevail.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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