The weepy co-founder of a bizarre upstate sex cult where women were branded with the leader’s initials pleaded guilty Wednesday to racketeering conspiracy for her part in the NXIVM operation.
Nancy Salzman, known to her followers as the “Prefect,” entered her plea to a single count at a Brooklyn Federal Court hearing and will face 33 to 41 months in prison at her July 10 sentencing.
“I want you to know I am pleading guilty because I am in fact guilty,” said Salzman, breaking into tears. “It has taken me some time and some soul searching to realize that what I did was wrong.”
The Newark, N.J., native admitted to committing identity theft by changing the user names and passwords of people identified as adversaries of NXVIM, and to editing video recordings before surrendering them to authorities.
Salzman, 63, left the courthouse without comment — although she offered a smile of relief at the hearing’s end.
“She has nothing to say,” said defense attorney David Stern.
A trial is slated to begin next month for her alleged accomplice, accused cult leader Keith Raniere — charged last July in a superseding indictment along with Salzman’s daughter Lauren, Seagram liquor fortune heiress Clare Bronfman and TV actress Allison Mack. A second superseding indictment against Raniere filed Wednesday includes child pornography charges stemming from images of one of the alleged underage victims with whom prosecutors say Raniere had a sexual relationship.
Salzman, who served as second-in-command to Raniere, entered plea discussions with prosecutors seven months ago. Charges against her include racketeering and conspiracy to commit identity theft. She will be sentenced July 10.
Some of Rainier’s brainwashed female followers were actually branded, with the cult head’s initials burned into their flesh, authorities charged.
The cult operated like an extortion plot, with the women forced to follow his directions — including engaging in sexual acts — after revealing “highly damaging information about themselves or family members,” authorities charged.