Halfmoon — The FBI raided the Saratoga County residence of NXIVM Corp. co-founder Nancy Salzman on Tuesday.
The hours-long search of Salzman's single-family residence on Oregon Trail in Halfmoon was taking place a day after Keith Raniere, the leader and a co-founder of the secretive Colonie-based organization, was arrested in Mexico on charges of sex trafficking and forced labor. He was sought by the FBI based on a federal criminal complaint filed the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which opened an investigation of Raniere's organization last fall.
Salzman has been a powerful figure in the organization since it was set up more than two decades ago.
The complaint, filed recently in connection with an ongoing federal grand jury investigation the Eastern District of New York, alleges that Raniere, known as "The Vanguard," took part in forming a secretive group within NXIVM that coerced women into joining a slave-master club. The women were also branded on their lower abdomens with a design that included the initials of Raniere and Allison Mack, an actress and NXIVM associate who is referred to in the complaint as an unnamed co-conspirator.
A warrant for Raniere's arrest was issued more than a month ago and he was taken into custody after Mexican immigration officials helped U.S. authorities track him to a luxury, $10,000-a-week villa near Puerto Vallarta, where he was staying with several women, federal officials said.
An expert has called NXIVM an "extreme cult."
On Sunday, the Times Union reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office is investigating a nonprofit foundation associated with NXIVM that allegedly sponsored brain-activity and other human behavioral studies without any apparent oversight, according to court records.
The nonprofit Ethical Science Foundation was formed in 2007 by Clare E. Bronfman, who owns a horse farm in Delanson and is listed in public records as the trustee and donor of the foundation.
At the request of the attorney general's office, a state Supreme Court justice recently signed an order directing Bronfman and Dr. Brandon B. Porter, who is involved with NXIVM and conducted the human studies, to turn over all documentation associated with the research, including any written communications, videos, conclusions, consent forms and the names and addresses of "individuals associated with Ethical Science Foundation who participated in any manner with the studies."
A Vancouver woman, Jennifer Kobelt, said in a complaint filed with the state that the experiment she was subjected to took place in a small commercial building in Halfmoon that has been used for years by NXIVM for training and seminars.
Kobelt said she was recruited for the study by an assistant of Salzman, who is NXIVM's president, and that she knew of at least four other women who took part.
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