The longtime bookkeeper for upstate sex-slave cult Nxivm was ordered Friday to find a new gig while she is out on bail awaiting trial for her role in the group.
A lawyer for Kathy Russell, 60, complained that her client only has $2,000 in her bank account and counting beans for the self-help sect is her sole source of income — but the judge said too bad.
“She’s gotta branch out,” said Judge Nicholas Garaufis as Russell was arraigned on racketeering charges in Brooklyn federal court.
Russell — who is accused of helping Nxivm leader Keith Raniere commit identity theft in a scheme to smuggle a non-citizen into the US through Canada — entered a not guilty plea and was allowed to stay out of jail on a $25,000 bond, put up by a pal in Alaska.
Russell was arrested Tuesday along with Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman — Nxivm’s financial backer — its co-founder Nancy Salzman, and her daughter Lauren Salzman.
Asked as she left court what she’ll do for work now, Russell hid behind a reusable shopping bag and a polka-dot hat, but her lawyer William Fanciullo responded: “Good question.”
The arrests are part of an ongoing federal investigation into Raniere and his right-hand woman, former ”Smallville” star Allison Mack.
They’re facing sex trafficking charges for allegedly coercing women into becoming part of a master-slave group within Nxivm called DOS, where “slaves” were forced to sleep with Raniere and have his initials branded into their skin.
Lauren Salzman, 42, was also arraigned in Brooklyn Friday and allowed to stay out of the slammer on a $5 million bond, signed by her grandparents and secured by $50,000 in cash and property.
Prosecutors allege that she was a “first-line master” in DOS, and committed human trafficking and extortion.
One of Lauren Salzman’s alleged slaves told the New York Times last year that she presided over a bizarre ritual where her charges were held down as they had Raniere’s initials branded into them with a cauterizing pen.
“Master, please brand me, it would be an honor,” she allegedly instructed them to say, according to the report.
Prosecutors say she and Raniere also confined one of his sexual partners to a room at a Clifton Park property for two years because the woman had romantic feelings for another man.
Over the prosecutors’ objections, Garaufis said Lauren Salzman could keep working in her job as a family counselor, so long as she doesn’t work with other members of Nxivm.
“Ms. Salzman is not a licensed counselor,” protested Assistant US Attorney Moira Penza.
“We’re not comfortable with her practicing this type of activity, some of which strikes at the heart of these allegations. Some of the DOS slaves were engaged in these pseudo-therapeutic sessions with Ms. Salzman.”
Both women will be back in court on Sept. 13.
Source: New York Post