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People/September 20, 2023

By Robert Gavin

Albany — Former NXIVM president Nancy Salzman is out of federal prison less than 20 months into her 3½ year sentence for admitted crimes as Keith Raniere’s top deputy in the cult-like personal growth organization.

The 69-year-old Salzman, formerly of Halfmoon, was expected to be relocated Thursday to a halfway house in Albany, according to a letter from the federal Bureau of Prisons sent to NXIVM victims that was obtained by the Times Union.

In September 2021, Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis sentenced Salzman to the prison term and fined her $150,000 based on her earlier guilty plea to racketeering conspiracy. Salzman reported to federal prison in February 2022. As recently as this week, the Bureau of Prison’s website listed Salzman as an inmate in a federal lockup in Hazelton, W.Va. Her release date had been listed as July 2, 2024.

On Thursday, the website updated Salzman’s status to say she was “not in BOP custody.” Salzman’s new release date was listed as June 17, 2024. In mid-July, federal court filings showed Salzman was scheduled to be released to a halfway house under the 2018 First Step Act, which allows federal inmates to request compassionate release after they exhaust administrative requests through the prison system.

On Thursday afternoon, a woman working at the halfway house where Salzman is expected to be living tersely told the Times Union that Salzman was not there, and asked a reporter to leave.

A native of Cranford, N.J., who had worked as a nurse, Salzman co-founded NXIVM and its Executive Success Programs with Raniere in 1998. Over the next two decades, she served as president of the secretive Colonie-based organization as it added locations in Mexico, Canada, Los Angeles, the Pacific Northwest and Europe.

Visitors to NXIVM’s headquarters on New Karner Road in Colonie were greeted by photos of Salzman, known as “Prefect,” and Raniere, known as “Vanguard.” While Salzman held the position of president, Raniere was NXIVM’s unquestioned leader.  She preached the teachings of Raniere, who she had for a period been romantically involved with, to NXIVM students — even passing along his claims that children are “perfectly happy” having sex with adults and that women experience “freedom” during rape.

Salzman instructed NXIVM members that anyone challenging Raniere or NXIVM, including family members and friends, were “suppressives” to be avoided. Former NXIVM insiders have described Salzman as Raniere’s enforcer but also a victim of his cruelty and manipulation. She was not involved in Raniere’s secret “master/slave” group, Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS), which ultimately led federal prosecutors in Brooklyn to charge Raniere.

In 2018, Salzman was among six NXIVM defendants, including Raniere, charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment. All but Raniere pleaded guilty. In June 2019, jurors convicted Raniere on all counts of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and racketeering counts with underling acts of extortion, identity theft and possession of child pornography.

Raniere, 63, is serving a 120-year prison sentence in Tucson, Ariz.

Salzman, the first defendant to plead guilty, admitted she doctored tapes that were evidence in a lawsuit in which NXIVM had sued cult expert Rick Ross and faced counterclaims. Salzman admitted she conspired to commit identity theft when she tried to obtain names and passwords of email accounts of NXIVM’s perceived enemies, information kept in files kept in the basement of her upscale Oregon Trail home.

Salzman’s daughter, Lauren Salzman, a former high-ranking member of NXIVM and DOS, pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges. Lauren Salzman, a star witness for prosecutors, received five years of probation. Also pleading guilty were actress Allison Mack, who pleaded to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy and provided information for prosecutors; Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman, who pleaded to conspiring to conceal and harbor undocumented immigrants for financial gain, and fraudulent use of identification; and NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell, who pleaded to visa fraud.

Salzman is the second defendant to be released from prison. Mack was released in early July. Bronfman, who has remained staunchly loyal to Raniere, is expected to be released in June 2025.

Salzman offered an account of her actions and what she portrayed as her ultimate recognition of Raniere's corruption in a series of interviews in the second season of HBO's NXIVM documentary series "The Vow."

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