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Prominent NXIVM cult leader Lauren Salzman avoids jail time after 'extraordinary' cooperation

She was a key aide to guru Keith Raniere and had been looking at a possible prison term.
Image: Lauren Salzman
Lauren Salzman leaves Brooklyn federal court in New York, on Jan. 28, 2019.Seth Wenig / AP file

A federal judge sentenced Lauren Salzman, a high-ranking leader of an upstate New York sex cult, to five years of probation on Wednesday, following her "extraordinary" assistance to prosecutors.

The loyal follower and inner-circle confidante of NXIVM (pronounced "nexium") founder Keith Raniere had been looking at a prison term of seven to nine years.

But prosecutors had urged Brooklyn-based U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis to consider a lesser sentence due to her help in bringing down Raniere, who was convicted on charges that included sex trafficking for forcing women in the group into having sex with him.

In addition to probation, Salzman was also ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.

In a memo to Judge Garaufis two weeks ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Hajjar wrote: "The extent of Lauren Salzman's cooperation and the significance of her assistance to the government were extraordinary."

Some victims were even branded with his initials, which symbolized their status as sex slaves for the self-help guru.

Salzman in 2019 pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges, testified against Raniere and assisted prosecutors, who advocated for a lesser sentence.

Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison nine months ago.

He ran the cult with the help of several woman, including Salzman's mother, NXIVM president Nancy Salzman, bookkeeper Kathy Russell, Seagram liquor heiress Clare Bronfman and "Smallville" actress Allison Mack.

They've all pleaded guilty to various charges.

Last month, Mack was sentenced to three years in prison. She had faced 14 to 17 1/2 years behind bars, but prosecutors said the actress deserved less time because of her cooperation with investigators.

CORRECTION (Sept. 8, 2021, 1:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of an heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune. She is Clare Bronfman, not Claire.

Bianca Britton contributed.