The former psychiatric nurse won’t serve her sentence until January, to allow her to recover from an unspecified medical procedure.
In addition, US district judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered that the group co-founder pay a $150,000 fine. Salzman will also forfeit properties, $500,000 in cash and a Steinway grand piano.
Nxivm’s leader, Keith Raniere, was given 120 years in prison in 2020 for crimes including sex trafficking, sexually abusing a 15-year-old, child pornography, branding sex slaves with his initials, and racketeering, among other crimes.
Founded in 1998, New York-based group Nxivm described itself as “a community guided by humanitarian principles” and professed to be a marketing company that offered personal development. The company was a front for a society called “DOS”, an acronym for a Latin word loosely translated as “master over the slave woman”.
On Tuesday, before sentencing, defence attorney David Stern wrote a letter to Judge Nicholas Garaufis, claiming Salzman was also a victim: “[Salzman] for the past twenty years has been fooled, controlled, humiliated, and ultimately led to engage in criminal conduct by an egotistical, self-important, sex fiend.”
Judge Garaufis said on Wednesday that Salzman was second-in-command and shared his power: “You enabled and facilitated Mr Raniere’s heinous crimes. In your 20 years at Nxivm, the door was always open but you never left,” reported the New York Daily News.
Salzman said in court that she was “horrified and ashamed” to have enabled Raniere, whom she met when they were working together 20 years ago before forming a misguided loyalty, and rationalising what was happening around her.
“I don’t know that I can ever forgive myself,” she said in court.
“The defendant engaged in a racketeering conspiracy designed to intimidate Nxivm’s detractors and that inflicted harm on Nxivm’s members,” acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said in a statement after Salzman’s sentencing.
Five people have pleaded guilty to various charges associated with Nxivm. Salzman is the fourth to be sentenced in the case. Clare Bronfman was given six years in prison, and former Smallville actress Allison Mack was sentenced to three years in prison.
Lauren Salzman was given five years of probation by the court after pleading guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors praised her “extraordinary assistance”, which was crucial to convicting Raniere. She features in the HBO documentary The Vow about Nxivm.