Prosecutors want a federal judge to throw the book at Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman for her role as a high-ranking member of the Nxivm sex-slave cult — by sentencing her to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Although Bronfman’s non-binding plea deal calls for 21 to 27 months behind bars, in court papers filed Monday in Brooklyn, prosecutors say she deserves a “significant upward variance” that would double the maximum 30 months she faces under federal guidelines at her scheduled Sept. 30 sentencing.
“For years, Bronfman leveraged her colossal wealth to recruit individuals, often women with no legal status in the United States, into Nxivm-affiliated organizations,” prosecutors Tanya Hajjar and Mark Lesko wrote.
“Although she claimed to award ‘scholarships’ or present employment letters with the prevailing wage of a professional position, Bronfman had no intention of providing her victims with a living wage. Instead, she secured a work-force of individuals desperate to earn a living and dependent on her and on Nxivm and [cult leader] Keith Raniere for their continued legal status in the United States.”
The 127-page filing also says that Bronfman’s “unwavering support” of Raniere — who last year was found guilty as charged on seven counts, including racketeering and sex trafficking — “enabled him to perpetrate his crimes.”
“She paid for scores of lawyers and private investigators to pursue individuals she perceived to be critics of Raniere and to attempt to intimidate Raniere’s victims into silence,” prosecutors wrote.
Those targets included reporters, ex-girlfriends of Rainiere’s, former Nxivm members and lawyers, and “even federal judges,” they said.
Prosecutors also noted that following Raniere’s March 2018 arrest in Mexico, “Bronfman funded a criminal defense fund that paid for his legal fees and the fees of individuals subpoenaed by the government to appear before the grand jury” and “remains loyal to and supports Raniere to this day.”
Raniere is set for sentencing on Oct. 27, when prosecutors want him locked up for life due in part to “his total denial of culpability for the crimes of which he was convicted.”
Also awaiting sentencing in the case is former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, who tearfully pleaded guilty last year to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy for serving as a “first-line master” over slaves in a Nxivm sub-cult called DOS.
A sentencing date for Mack hasn’t been set.
In addition to getting slapped with extra prison time, prosecutors said Bronfman — who’s already forfeited $6 million and agreed to pay more than $96,000 in restitution — should be made to pay a fine far in excess of the recommended maximum of $95,000.
With a net worth of more than $210 million, prosecutors said there’s no question she can pay the “statutory maximum” of $500,000, and added the hefty amount was justified “in light of the seriousness of Bronfman’s crimes and the need for deterrence.”
“Bronfman did not commit these crimes out of need,” they wrote. “She is likely one of the most privileged and wealthy defendants to ever appear before this Court for sentencing.”
Prosecutors also ridiculed Bronfman’s request for a sentence of just three years’ probation on the grounds that being released to home confinement following her arrest amounted to “banishment from her home and entire community in Albany.”
“Many defendants are not able to post security sufficient to warrant pretrial release at all, and few are able to live in luxurious accommodations like Bronfman’s,” they wrote.
Court papers note that she spent her time in “a two-bedroom apartment in a full-service luxury building with concierge, fitness center and rooftop.”
The defense reply is due Sept. 22.
In response to the prosecution filing, Bronfman defense lawyer Duncan Levin said, “We have every confidence in the court to reach a just result.”
Phoenix man killed wife in alleged murder-suicide moments after she called cops
A Phoenix man appears to have fatally shot his wife and then taken his own life — just minutes after she called the cops for help getting him out of their home, police said.
Syeda Sohaly Akter, 43, and her husband, Abul Ahsan Habib, 52, were found dead with gunshot wounds early Sunday by cops in Phoenix after officers responded to their home for a second time that morning, police told the Arizona Republic.
Cops initially responded to a report of an argument at about 9:26 a.m. at the couple’s home, where officers met with Akter and her adult son for about 15 minutes, police spokesperson Sgt. Tommy Thompson told the newspaper.
Akter told cops she wanted Habib — who had already left the home — to move out, Thompson said. Officers also provided her information on how to obtain an order of protection against her husband before leaving, KNXV reports.
The son then left the home to run some errands, and at some point Habib returned. Akter called cops a second time at 9:51 a.m. — when a police dispatcher heard gunshots ring out. Officers later found Akter and Habib dead with fatal gunshot wounds, the station reports.
Habib, Akter and her son, who was not identified, all lived at the home together. Detectives are investigating the shooting as a murder-suicide and recovered a gun from the home, Thompson told the Arizona Republic.
Akter had called police just five minutes after officers left the home, telling her to call back if Habib returned. She was telling a dispatcher that he had returned when the police dispatcher heard gunshots, Thompson said.
“Obviously this is a tragedy,” Thompson told KSAZ. “When you have a man who kills his wife and then kills himself, that’s a tragedy and I don’t know how to describe it other than that. So our hearts go out to the family members that have to live through this.”
Myriah Mhoon, CEO of New Life Center, which serves as Arizona’s largest domestic violence shelter, told KPHO the apparent murder-suicide “speaks to how horrific domestic violence and family violence can really be.”
About a quarter of nearly 100 homicides in Phoenix during the first half of 2020 were domestic violence-related, up 140 percent compared to same span a year ago, KSAZ reports.
Separate hit-and-runs in Elmhurst, Harlem leave two dead
Two men were fatally struck by hit-and-run drivers in different boroughs early Monday, cops said.
An unidentified man was killed when a driver slammed into him in the westbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway, near Exit 19 in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, around 5:15 a.m. cops said.
He was found unconscious and unresponsive in the right travel lane with severe body trauma. EMS pronounced him dead on the scene.
Cops had no details on what type of vehicle struck him, but confirmed that the driver took off and remained at large later in the morning.
Hours earlier, another man — who cops also say is unidentified — was fatally struck on Malcolm X Boulevard near West 125th Street in Harlem just before 3 a.m.
The man, who was found in the street with severe head trauma, was pronounced dead on scene.
The driver took off — heading north on Malcolm X Boulevard — and cops also did not have details on the vehicle involved in that accident.
Judge Andrew Napolitano ‘forced’ NJ man into ‘BDSM games’: lawsuit
A second man has accused Fox News personality and former judge Andrew Napolitano of sexual abuse, claiming the judge forced him to engage in strange BDSM sex games over the course of a number of years.
Napolitano, who faces another sexual abuse lawsuit filed earlier this month, categorically denied the new allegations, calling it a smear campaign.
The alleged victim, James Kruzelnick, claims in the suit filed in New Jersey state court that he met Napolitano while working as a waiter at the Mohawk House restaurant in 2014.
During one of his visits, Napolitano allegedly followed Kruzelnick into the bathroom at the restaurant and groped him, the suit states.
“Defendant Napolitano grabbed plaintiff’s buttocks, and told him that ‘you are just so hot’,” according to the suit.
Kruzelnick rebuffed him, but continued to speak with Napolitano and serve as his waiter because he believed he was a “brilliant” man, the suit states.
In September 2015, he agreed to meet Napolitano at his house — where the former judge allegedly coerced him into BDSM sex games.
As Kruzelnick was sitting in Napolitano’s living room, the judge walked over to him with his pants down and said, “I am really into certain things,” then sat on his lap.
“I want you to start slapping me really hard,” Napolitano allegedly told Kruzelnick, demanding that he “just f—king do it!” when he was skeptical, the suit states.
The judge also allegedly agreed to help Kruzelnick’s brother with his legal troubles if he continued to give him sexual favors.
During this time, the judge allegedly came to the Mohawk House with a young man he identified as an intern from Fox News, where Napolitano works as a senior judicial analyst.
Kruzelnick, the intern and Napolitano went back to his house, where he was offered a drink, according to the complaint.
“He woke up hours later in Napolitano’s bed, with blurred memories of engaging in a sexual threesome with Napolitano and the Fox News intern,” the suit states.
During a final alleged encounter, Napolitano attempted to rape and force Kruzelnick to perform oral sex on him while the two were at his farm in 2017.
Kruzelnick is seeking at least $15,000,000 in damages and a jury trial, according to the suit.
A lawyer for Napolitano said Monday’s suit is “nothing more than a pile-on attempt to smear Judge Napolitano for their own financial gain. We will defeat these false allegations in court and look forward to exposing this continuing attempt to abuse our court system to smear a highly-respected former public servant.”
Fox News did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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