Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman has been quietly paying the legal fees of her accused fellow sex cult members, prosecutors claim.
The legal fees for Nxivm leader Keith Raniere and his underlings are being paid from a trust funded mainly by the 39-year-old heiress, federal prosecutors revealed in new court filings.
Bronfman, Raniere and others – including onetime “Smallville” TV actress Allison Mack – are facing racketeering and other charges for running the Albany-area group, which allegedly cultivated sex slaves for Raniere.
Bronfman’s financial contributions to all of their cases raise questions because “it may subject an attorney to undesirable outside influence; and raises an ethical question ‘as to whether the attorney’s loyalties are with the client or the payor,’” reads the Brooklyn federal court filing.
“The government has learned that the legal fees of multiple witnesses and potential witnesses are also being paid by Bronfman or the Trust, and that there have been efforts to pay the legal fees of other witnesses.”
One unnamed lawyer paid by Bronfman even went so far as to instruct a witness called to testify before the grand jury to invoke the Fifth Amendment – and said he wouldn’t be “comfortable” representing the witness if she didn’t do so.
The lawyer “explained to Witness #1 that his fees were being paid for by Clare Bronfman,” the filings say. “The attorney told Witness #1 that he recommended that she invoke the Fifth Amendment in response to the government’s questions in the grand jury.”
Prosecutors have asked Judge Nicholas Garaufis for a hearing on the matter. He has yet to rule.
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