Seagram's liquor heir Clare Bronfman, who helped bankroll the NXIVM sex cult, has won her bid to stop the Federal Bureau of Prisons labeling her as a sex offender, making her eligible for release as early as next year, DailyMail.com has learned.
The 43-year-old will also be transferred to a less secure 'Club Fed' prison, where she'll serve out the remainder of her sentence in a minimal security camp in Danbury, Connecticut.
There, she'll have more freedom to walk around, enjoy recreational activities and meet with guests, according to her lawyers.
After Bronfman's conviction in September 2020, the bureau classified her a sex offender based on a pre-sentencing report suggesting she was involved with the Albany, New York-based group's secret sorority called DOS, which brainwashed female 'slaves,' branding them with the initials of the group's leader Keith Raniere and forcing them to have sex with him.
But her lawyers argued that there was never proof that she knew about or participated in DOS.
Bronfman gave millions of dollars to bankroll Raniere and his program of intense self-improvement classes. She also paid for lawyers to defend the group against lawsuits by its critics. But she ended up pleading guilty to non-sex crimes, including credit card fraud and harboring an illegal immigrant.
She was sentenced to six years, nine months in prison. However her lawyers said the Bureau of Prisons relied on an 'inaccurate' report drafted by the government and put a 'public safety factor' designation on her file, labeling her a sex offender.
After exhausting the prison system's administrative appeals process, her attorneys Duncan Levin and Ronald Sullivan petitioned the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, arguing that the designation violated her constitutional rights. The government has now backed down.
'We are very gratified that the federal government has decided to remove the sex offender label from Clare's file, which was unfairly applied to her,' Levin told DailyMail.com. 'It's unfortunate it took us having to sue the federal government to get this result.'
'The fact is Clare Bronfman has never been involved in any way with any alleged sex offenses and the record is extremely clear about that,' Levin continued. 'She was supporting NXIVM, a self-help group that has had thousands and thousands of members, but she never supported any alleged sex offenses in any way with a single dollar of her money.'
Bronfman is the younger daughter of former Seagram's chairman Edgar Bronfman, who died in 2013. She is estimated to be worth around $500million.
Her sister Sara, 46, who introduced her to NEXIVM, was described at Raniere's trial as one of his 'trusted group,' but she was not charged in the criminal case.
Clare Bronfman is currently housed in Danbury in a traditional prison with barbed wire and fences, but will soon be moved to a less secure facility on campus called 'the camp.'
'They're given a lot more freedom to walk around the premises,' Levin told DailyMail.com. 'It's still not a place anyone would want to be, but the conditions are less onerous.'
Raniere, 62, was convicted of turning women into sex slaves. As well as the Bronfman sisters, his adherents included actress Allison Mack of TV's Smallville; and India Oxenberg, the daughter of TV star Catherine Oxenberg of Dynasty fame.
At her sentencing, prosecutors said Bronfman recruited individuals into NXIVM-affiliated organizations and then sought to obtain visas or other immigration status for them based on false promises.
Bronfman submitted documents to secure a work visa that would see one woman paid $3,600 per month. Prosecutors stated, however, that Bronfman only paid her about $4,000 over a year-long period for her work.
Her lawyers had asked the judge to give her three years' probation, but prosecutors argued for at least five years behind bars, but the judge imposed a sentence of six years and nine months.
Bronfman watched on silently as nine women gave victim impact statements before her sentence was handed down and described how their lives had been destroyed by her and NXIVM.
One former member had said she watched Bronfman mentally descend over the years into a 'dangerous megalomaniac'.
Another slammed her as a predator, saying: 'You should feel shame, self loathing... You should understand there are lives you destroyed.
'I pray that you will take the claws of Keith Raniere out of you, and you will learn who Clare Bronfman really is.'
In a letter to the court, Bronfman wrote that she 'never meant to hurt anyone, however I have and for this I am deeply sorry.'
Still, she said that she couldn't disavow Raniere because 'NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better.'
Bronfman denied being a member of the secret sorority but prosecutors argued that Raniere and NXIVM wouldn't have been so powerful without her financial support.
In addition to prison, she was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine and $96,605 in restitution to the Mexican woman she recruited.
Raniere was sentenced in 2020 to 120 years behind bars after a dramatic hearing where he was confronted by 15 of his victims.
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