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Liquor heiress pleads guilty in New York sex cult, racketeering case

An heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune pleaded guilty on Friday in an alleged scheme involving sex trafficking and racketeering. 

Clare Bronfman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal and harbor people who were not in the United States legally for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification, according to CNN. Another woman, Kathy Russell, pleaded guilty to a visa fraud charge. 

The charges stemmed from their involvement in a purported self-help group for women with a pyramid-structure called Nxivm that was founded by Keith Raniere, according to the Justice Department. Nxivm has been described as cult-like. 

Bronfman is scheduled to be sentenced July 25 and Russell is scheduled to be sentenced July 31. 

"Your honor, I was afforded a great gift by my grandfather and father. With the gift comes immense privilege, and more importantly, tremendous responsibility," Bronfman said tearfully in court, according to CNN. "It does not come with an ability to break the law, it comes with a greater responsibility to uphold it. I failed to uphold the following laws set forth by this country, and for that I am truly remorseful."

"I know what I did was wrong and I am very sorry for the trouble that I've caused," Russell said, according to the news network. 

Prosecutors said that members of a Nxivm sub-group were labeled "slaves" until they recruited other members, according to CNN. Their pelvic areas were allegedly branded with an image that incorporated Raniere's initials. 

Raniere is incarcerated and faces faces sex trafficking and forced labor charges. Charges were also brought against "Smallville" actress Allison Mack for her alleged involvement in the scheme. 

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