O’Hara: Clare Bronfman Faces a Bleak Future of Fear & Isolation

Clare Bronfman by MK10ART --with the nun she could have been on her right shoulder and the devil Keith Alan Raniere on her left shoulder
Joe O’Hara

By Joe O’Hara

Going to prison is hard for everyone.

I know because I’ve been there.

But it’s harder for some than others – and a lot of the difference has to do with where you were in life just before you were incarcerated.

Long before I reported to the Metropolitan Detention Center in December 2013, I had already lost much of what I had attained in life.

Up until the time that I became a consultant to NMXIVM in October 2003, I had what many would call a charmed life.

The sign in front of NXIVM’s former headquarters in Colonie, NY

Although I came from a very modest background, hard work and a lot of lucky breaks allowed me to have a great career.

All that changed once I quit working for NXIVM in January 2005 – and refused to return despite the alternating entreaties and threats that I received from Keith Raniere’s various representatives (I had started working as a Consultant to NXIVM in October 2003 – and quit when I determined that the organization’s co-founders, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman, were engaged in a variety of illegal activities).

As NXIVM waged legal – and illegal – war on me for the next 8 years, I lost more and more of things that I once held near and dear.

By the time I reported to MDC, I was living a very modest life, taking whatever gig jobs I could find to get by, and trying to figure out how I was going to survive once I got out.

Thus, while being in prison for 28-months was certainly not a fun experience, I did not lie awake at night fretting over what I had left behind when I reported to MDC.

That won’t be the case for Clare Bronfman.


Unprepared & Ill-Advised

When Clare went to her sentencing hearing on September 30th, she obviously thought she would be allowed to return home – and to get her life in order before she would have to report to whatever prison the BOP eventually assigns her to.

Clare Bronfman heads into her sentencing hearing with her attorneys.

Otherwise, she wouldn’t have worn her favorite necklace to the proceedings (Despite what some pundits have claimed, Clare was definitely not “dressed for prison” when she entered the EDNY courthouse on September 30th).

Clare Bronfman with her favorite necklace

Even when the judge said that she was being remanded, she obviously didn’t understand what the word meant (Apparently it wasn’t on the list of words she had to learn for her GED test).

It was only when four U.S. Marshals came to escort her from the courtroom that she grasped what was happening (At that point, her lead attorney, Ronald Sullivan, Jr., whispered something to her).

I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that gripped her as she was led out of the courtroom by the four Marshals.

Given her history, I’m surprised she didn’t faint…

She did, however, according to courtroom observers begin to cry.

It won’t be the last time.


From Holding Cell to Van to Prison

Unless she pissed or shit herself – which is not an uncommon outcome when someone is remanded during a sentencing hearing – Clare was initially taken to a holding cell within the EDNY courthouse.

She would have stayed there all by herself – probably for a couple of hours – until she was driven over to MDC.

Metropolitan Detention Center – Brooklyn, NY

Upon arriving at MDC, Clare was escorted to the Intake Unit – and required to fill out several forms.

Next, she was taken over to an enclosed area and subjected to her first strip search. “Turn around, squat and cough” will become a phrase that she absolutely abhors.

After that, she was given her first set of prison garb: panties, bra, a pair of pants and a shirt, a tee-shirt, a pair of socks, and a pair of prison shoes (The specific clothing varies from prison to prison but they’re all equally bland and unattractive).

Image result for female federal prisons
Typical garb for female inmates in federal prison

She would also have been asked (actually encouraged) if she would like to donate the clothing she was wearing when she arrived – and when she declined, she would have been given a cardboard box to put things in and asked to address it to her selected recipient (The odds of her favorite necklace being in that box when it arrives at her intended destination are about 1,000-to-1).

She then went through a couple of interviews where she was asked about her mental health and physical health so that it could be determined if she needed to be put on Suicide Watch.

Assuming she didn’t raise any alarms during those interviews, she was then taken to whatever unit they’re using at MDC  to isolate newly-admitted female inmates for 10-14 days.

Along the way, she would have been instructed to pick up a “bedroll” that included a blanket, a sheet and a pillowcase, a facecloth, and a towel (If she was lucky, she also was able to pick up a pillow but that doesn’t always happen).

Nothing in her bedroll has the thread-count and softness that she’s grown used to in her 41 years of living a life of luxury. And all of it has a smell that Clare will eventually not even notice.

Finally, she was deposited in her temporary cell – and the door to it was closed and locked.

If there were inmates in nearby cells in the isolation unit, one or more of them might have called out to her (I could be wrong but I’m guessing she didn’t answer – which will be her first mistake in prison).

If not, she was then surrounded by silence.


Facilities for Federal Female Prisoners

Although their numbers have been growing in recent years, women still only account for about 7% of the federal prison population. That translates out to about 11,000 prisoners.

The Bureau of Prisons operates twenty-none (29) sites that house female prisoners. Here are links to all of them:


FCC = Federal Correctional Complex

FCI = Federal Correctional Institution

FDC = Federal Detention Center

FMC = Federal Medical Center

FPC = Federal Prison Camp

FTC = Federal Transfer Center

MCC = Metropolitan Correctional Center

MDC = Metropolitan Detention Center


Where Will Clare Be Assigned?

Since the BOP generally tries to house prisoners within 500 miles of their former residence, Clare will most likely end up somewhere in the Northeast.

In a rather baffling move, her attorneys submitted a request to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on October 1, 2020 – just one day after Clare was sentenced – asking him to “recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Ms. Bronfman be assigned, if appropriate, to the minimum-security camp at Danbury, or other similar facility close to New York City.” They also asked the judge to release the $100-million bond she had posted back in July 2018.

Normally, this type of placement arrangement is part of a plea deal – or it’s included in the “Sentencing Memorandum” that defense attorneys submit on behalf of their clients before sentencing takes place. Neither of those things happened in Clare’s case.

But despite the lateness of the request, Judge Garaufis has issued an Order granting both requests. The wording of that Order is as follows:

ORDER: Defendant’s request to exonerate bail is GRANTED. The court recommends to the Bureau of Prisons that Defendant be designated to the minimum security camp at Danbury, CT. So-Ordered. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 10/5/2020.

In any event, where Clare will serve her time in prison will ultimately be decided by the BOP’s Designation and Sentence Compilation Center in Grand Prairie, TX. The judge’s recommendation will carry little, if any, weight in terms of where Clare is assigned.

Normally, the assignment process takes a few weeks but with the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, it’s possible that Clare may languish at MDC until the end of the year.


Danbury FCI

If Clare does end up at Danbury FCI, then she’ll be joining 844 other female inmates serving time there.

The Danbury facility actually has three separate units: a low-security prison that houses 659 inmates, an adjacent low-security satellite prison that houses another 131 inmates, and a low-security satellite camp that houses 55 inmates in a dormitory-like setting.

Image result for pictures of danbury, ct women's prison
The Danbury, CT prison complex

Although many people think that Martha Stewart served her five-month prison term at the Danbury camp, that is not the case. Martha was actually incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp near Alderson, WV.

The Danbury prison is, however, where Piper Kerman, the author of “Orange Is the New Black,” served 13 months in prison.

One thing that Clare might want to do while she’s at MDC is read up on the rules and regulations at Danbury.

Image result for pictures of danbury, ct women's prison
Some former inmates at the Danbury, CT facility

Those are spelled out quite clearly in the “Inmate Admission & Orientation Handbook” for the facility.

She might also want to peruse the list of items that are available from the Commissary at Danbury FCI.

There are lots and lots of options – and, unfortunately for her, she’ll be there long enough to try everything on the list.


Special Conditions

Unlike most federal prisoners, Clare will be subject to several “special conditions” that were read into the record at her sentencing hearing.

While we won’t have a complete list of those “special conditions” until we receive a transcript of the September 30th sentencing hearing, courtroom observers have provided us with a partial list of them.


No Contact With NXIVM Members

Thus, we know that Clare will not be allowed to have any contact with anyone who has ever been associated with NXIVM.

Given that Clare has already claimed not to have any friends outside of the NXIVM cult, this alone will ensure that her prison time will be extremely lonely.

Presumably, her attorneys will request that Judge Garaufis allow Clare to have contact with her sister, Sarah Bronfman-Igtet, who was another major funder of the NXIVM  criminal enterprise – but there is no way of knowing how the judge will rule on such a request.

No Depositing Funds Into Other Prisoner’s Commissary Accounts

We also know that Clare will not be allowed to transfer money into the commissary account of any other federal prisoner.

While this was probably intended to prevent Clare from providing any more assistance to her mentor, Keith Alan Raniere, it will also mean that she will not be able to buy favors for – or protection from – her fellow prisoners.

That could turn out to be a real problem once those fellow prisoners learn just how wealthy Clare is (She reportedly earns $25-$30 million per year of income on her assets).


No Transfer of Assets Without Court Approval

Clare reportedly has been ordered not to transfer any of her assets without the court’s approval – which, once again, is going to make it hard for her to siphon off financial assistance for Raniere.

We won’t know the full extent of this restriction until we see the transcript but it sounds like the court intends to monitor Clare’s spending through the time she’s imprisoned.


A Very Bleak Future

Assuming that she doesn’t do anything to lose any of the “good time” that she will otherwise accrue while she’s in prison, Clare will be released from prison sometime around July 1, 2026.

That means that she will spend 2,135 days incarcerated in federal prison – which is almost three times the number of days I was at MDC.

The only “good news” is that after today, she’ll have worked that number down to 2,129.

Viva Executive Success!


[Editor’s Note: If Clare ends up being assigned to serve her time at the MCC in Manhattan or the MDC in Brooklyn, then there’s a strong possibility that the Feds aren’t done with her yet. Having her assigned to one of those locations would make it much easier to bring additional charges against her – either in the EDNY or the NDNY.]

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J.J. O'Hara


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  • Joe O’Hara,

    Great write up!

    The guards and the inmates must be fantasizing about how much protection money they will extort from Clare.


  • Clare has been charged and found guilty in a court of law. She now will be held accountable for her actions, and even though the damage she facilitated against so many may never be fully repaid, she now gets to suffer a similar fate as she inflicted on others. I believe we should not feel sorry for her as she is legally considered to be an adult (although I do not believe she is mature in any way), and she performed these things willingly. She may be naive, but she should (and does) does know right from wrong, and what she did for years is clearly wrong no matter if the guise of ‘helping others’ or being ‘ethical’ was used to justify her actions.

    Whatever may happen to her in prison is a direct result of her own actions and, therefore, I will not feel sorry for her. I do not wish her direct harm but she ‘made the bed’ she is currently sleeping in, and this bed (in prison) certainly carries a high degree of potential physical and emotional harm. I do hope she may eventually break free from the brainwashing done by NXIVM and KR, and make attempts to both rehabilitate herself and make things right to those she affected for years as she has both the means and ability to do so when she becomes a free woman again. However, based on her recent comments and actions, I am very skeptical about her future, and with her obvious health concerns (she looks much older and sickly than she should), she may have already shortened her lifespan considerably.

  • I fear for Clare. When I went to prison, I had social skills that adapted to prison life. I was outgoing and helpful to others and I was receptive to them helping me. Furthermore, I was genuinely ashamed of my crimes and freely admitted that to all. This prompted others to trust me and bond with me. I didn’t need to fight for my manhood because I respected others and sought to learn from them, not challenge them.

    I don’t like to see anyone suffer, even a miserable bitch that has hurt others and caused suffering on a large scale. I believe in the possibility for redemption for everyone, if they are willing and open to learn and change.

    If Ronald Sullivan is reading this, please get Clare a good prison coach/consultant. Prison coaches are people like me that have been to prison and lived the experience. The good ones understand what it takes to survive prison and can communicate how to handle the harsh treatment and continual frustrations, denials of basic rights, tense and confusing situations that happen in everyday prison life from being around other angry criminals, fucked up COs, and a punishing system that doesn’t care about you.

      • Prison rape is an offense that seems to be tolerated by the majority of society who seem to think it is actually humorous. Or that since they’re prisoners it is good that they are raped.

        • Sorry, Frank

          It isn’t humorous for anyone in prison (or out) to be raped. I didn’t tolerate it and no one should. If you think most people feel it’s tolerable, maybe you should look at your own values. Honestly, I don’t know anyone that thinks rape is good thing, no matter when and where it happens.

          Prison conditions need to change. And, when people believe that rape needs to stop, it will stop. Pain is not fun. Safer and rehabilitative prisons could be a reality if people changed their priorities away from harsh, punitive, draconian measures focused on delivering pain to a behavioral, educational model focusing on developing appropriate personal, social, life and occupational skills. A model similar to AA where prisoners are active in the teaching and mentoring of the model.

          • I do not think rape in any setting is tolerable or acceptable. It is condemned out of prison but in prison it seems to be tolerated. I don’t condone it. I wonder if something could be done to prevent it.

        • Who cares if a criminal gets raped? Fuck them. If George Floyd took one by force up the hoop, would you cry?

          Innocent people being raped is not humorous. If the rapists get raped in prison by other rapists, so what?

          • –Who cares if a criminal gets raped?–

            Men who get molested or raped often become molesters and rapists. So you don’t care if more rapists are created and then get out of prison?

  • Sylvie and all her other victims must be relieved. Now “Dear Clare” will get to meet real mean girls, who deliver revenge without attorneys and a more instant response system. Her world is now going to give her a lesson on humanity. Clare’s Karma a life of appropriate privilege for her kindness and intellect.

  • @Joe O’Hara, I would just like to add that females upon entering the system will get a body cavity search performed by a physician. This is much like a female going to a GYN exam. I know this to be true as a former Law Enforcement Officer. They don’t take any chances!

    • Clare Bronfman, knowing she’d most likely do some prison time, would have benefited by bringing in an ex-Navy Seal, putting on some muscle, and learning some self-defense.

      Instead, she gets her GED, takes some online college classes and looks at some bar exam education.

      Wow, that is all going to help her a hell of a lot in prison when someone is approaching her about belonging to a sex cult that held collateral over women’s heads, held them down and branded her Master’s initials close to their private parts.

      Clare is going to whip out the fact that she has a GED!

      REALLY, what was she thinking?

      Look, I’ve never been in prison but I was one of the first women aircraft mechanics in the Navy. My first duty station, I was the only woman in a shop of 80 men. They dished it out, I dished it right back. In about two months, no problems. They knew I was there to do my job and not bat my eyebrows to get away with doing less.

      Clare couldn’t bust her way out of a wet paper sack. She has taken the DOS diet way too far and is no longer the “on the road to being an Olympic champion” she once was.

      I fear for her safety and she was either too smug or too stupid to think ahead to prepare herself for how unsafe prison can be for her.

      The amount of money she can spend a month out of her own commissary account isn’t going to buy her much protection. She’s going to have to cheat on Keith Raniere and find her one tough-ass girlfriend.

          • To act manly. Lesbians are kinda butch. Look at Ally Wack. That chick brands women like fucking cattle. That’s butch right there.

          • Frank, I think above ( I can’t copy it and don’t see a reply tab) you mean to say you don’t think rape is tolerated. You left the not out. Don’t want you to be misquoted. No need to publish this.

          • Didn’t Ally Wack eat pussy at Raniere’s demand? Who was it who was blindfolded while getting their ham sandwich feasted on?

        • I’ve served. For me it was a job, but also a means to an education and a trade. But I’m a straight guy. My sexual preference had zero impact on my decision to enlist.

          • I joined the Navy because I wasn’t a scared individual, like those who are too scared to come on my podcast. LOL

      • —The amount of money she can spend a month out of her own commissary account isn’t going to buy her much protection.

        Clare will pay protection money. She will be okay.

        The inmates will approach Clare and explain how to pay for protection…

        …By having 3rd parties make payments, on the outside, to the appropriate individuals. The inmates are not going to hurt the goose that lays the golden eggs.

        Even in minimum security prisons, there are protection rackets in male and female prisons.

        Just ask Joe.

        • For sure, Nice Guy, this also provides a means of continuing the racket via inmates, friends and relatives, provides avenues of communication, etc., I wonder how much of a curb has been placed on her finances?

  • Thanks for the article. I hope she faces more charges. Did you hear her in “The Vow” Episode 7 trying to explain KR’s role in NXIVM. “Well…like I said….he’s the Vanguard.” LOL.

    The only thing missing, I think, is key info about the author? You did 28 months for something related to NXIVM? Can you explain? It seems like essential information for a story like this.

  • Thank you muchly, Joe, for these salacious details.

    I was just rewatching “Shawshank Redemption” yesterday musing on how Clare or Keith might be able to, say, start a library or orchestrate a prison break by crawling through 3 miles of sewage shit to freedom like Andy did in the movie.

    Funny, she’s getting 3 times the sentence you served starting in the very spot where they had you unjustly held.

    In paganism, the Karma rule is whatever you put out comes back atcha 3 times. This is solid proof Clare’s a witch in my books. And while that settles it on your account, especially if she’s held at MDC or worse, she’s got a few more triple karma tabs to cover starting with JT’s unjust imprisonment.

    I’m just not sure if there’s any offset for accomplices who assisted her or if the “thrice rule” applies equally to all of them.

  • Thanks for introducing readers to prison life. I’m hopeful Clare will make a friend in prison, someone who will take an interest in her without needing to get something financial in return. I was very lucky to have that experience; it helped get me through each day and I left being a more humble and compassionate person.

    For someone like Clare, I would recommend her lawyers hire her a prison consultant. Prison consultants can help white-collar criminals adjust to prison life, handle the stresses and difficulties, and potentially benefit from the experience.

    • Clare is not a “white collar” criminal. Fuck that. Is it too late to warn Judge Garaufis there’s a loophole he didn’t cover? He was pretty, blessedly thorough.

  • Danbury has lawns and large buildings. There is no need to worry whether the gardeners show up or even if they get paid. Clare has been in prison for many, many years already, in her prison of belief. She ought to be charged room and board from now on, according to whatever her finances can afford. So $25 to $30 million per year for being taken care of by the American people could be the least she could do.

  • Anyone notice that Clare looked pretty awful, like a walking corpse, as she was headed in?

    Skin more yellow than usual, gaunt, thinner, dishelved.

    Could Keith’s Rat Poison special seasoning be kicking in?

    Karma is rough.

        • I had to approve this Nice Guy because it was funny. But can’t you stop fighting with Scott and try to be friends? Maybe you should go on his show – it is actually a professional show and well done.

          • The comedy act of NG, Scott and Frank. The light-hearted part of the Frank Report. It’s like a Christmas dinner table kinda scene with the two brothers throwing insults and the father stepping in.

          • We should try not publishing them in the first place, which is YOUR stated policy. Thanks.

          • Frank,

            Okay, I’ll stop. I completely understand.

            I will think about going on Scott’s show…

            …But it has to be with his “okay” that all topics including his past are fair game.

          • In the past, he would not agree to answer my stipulation.

            I will not be an asshole and bring up things that are private to him.

            I actually am a nice guy.

            I never outed Sultan.

  • Have there been any credible rumors about more charges? Will she be able to write to other people and receive mail?

    Are others waiting to speak up until all current defendants are sentenced?

    Can we access your writing on the subject, JJ O’Hara? Is your blog archived?

    Clare needed a time out, the one she’s been avoiding for decades.

    There must be recordings of Keith saying horrible things about her.

    • No credible rumors that I’m aware of, and she can write and receive letters but they will be carefully inspected. LOL

      I’m sure others are waiting to talk until everyone has been sentenced, there are lots of cowards floating around. LOL

        • That would be YOU, NiceGuy 666, because you’re (or is it “your”?) too (or is it “to”?) scared to come on Scott’s show. LOL

  • One thing that might help Clare is that NXIVM has made her accustomed to self-denial. Reportedly Clare was the only one of Raniere’s women who never cheated on the mandated extreme low-calorie diet.

  • Do explain…..
    ” (I could be wrong but I’m guessing she won’t answer – which will be her first mistake in prison).”

    • Being silent infers that the person is either weak, elitist or thinks they are better than their new peers. All of which apply to our Clare, and none of which serve the transition to prison life well.

    • Not answering a query like that will be interpreted as her being haughty or her being afraid. Neither of those are labels that you want to have in prison – and both will speed up the time when she will get “tested” by one or more of her sister inmates.

      Within 24 hours after Clare is placed in general population, the contents of her BOP file will be known by just about everyone in her assigned unit (Guards are usually the ones who share that information). Thereafter, she’ll be questioned by one or more inmates about various aspects of her case and her life – and, hopefully, for her sake, she’ll provide truthful responses.

        • If you have ever worked in any blue-collar male-dominated environment like construction, trucking, warehouse, military etc., picture your first day on the job. Likely someone gave you grief about something. They are testing you to probe for weakness. What will the new guy put up with? Now, picture multiplying several times and with ramifications that will follow you through your sentence. That is being tested.

  • I know Clare was really awful, but I do think she was kind of clueless about it. I’m glad she is being made to pay for her transgressions, but I still feel compassion for her plight. I’m still shocked that she was sentenced for so long over what was even asked. And I’m curious about Clare’s apology to Jane Doe 12. I’ve read here and elsewhere that Judge Garaufis stopped Clare and really let her have it. Is there any way to get a transcript of what she said? I’m just wondering what made him say that she’s “still doing it.”

  • I try as a rule to not wish harm on another individual, but Clare is a definite and rare exception. Hopefully, she has already met the business end of a plunger or broom handle by now, and will continue to so meet until eventual hemorrhage.

    • She’s likely still in isolation because all newly-admitted prisoners have to be quarantined for 10-14 days.

        • Only if they put her on Suicide Watch to start out (That would normally only happen if she performed badly in the interview sessions). Most likely, she will be housed in whatever isolation unit they’ve set up for new inmates.

    • Think of the broom handle or the plunger, please. These objects have done nothing to warrant such suffering.

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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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com