Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman collapsed in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, shortly after the judge in her racketeering conspiracy case asked if she’d secretly maintained embattled lawyer Michael Avenatti in a quote to negotiate a deal with district attorneys.
Bronfman was charged in July in connection with the activities of NXIVM, a self-proclaimed self-help company that authorities say ran as an violent cult where selected female “slaves” were required to have sex with leader Keith Raniere and were branded with his initials.
Bronfman is represented by attorney Mark Geragos, who was recognized by The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press this week as an unindicted co-conspirator in what federal district attorneys say was a plan by Avenatti to obtain millions from sportswear giant Nike.
Under questioning by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Geragos admitted that he and Avenatti had fulfilled with district attorneys on Bronfman’s behalf. New York Post reporter Emily Saul tweeted that Avenatti has not went into a notice that he will appear in court on Bronfman’s behalf, however Geragos has. She tweeted that Geragos informed Judge Garaufis that he did not know if Avenatti intended to appear prior to the court in the Bronfman matter “because of the other case.”
It was not clear whether Geragos was referring to the Nike extortion case or a different case in which Avenatti was charged by federal prosecutors in California with wire scams and bank scams.
A few minutes later on, Bronfman collapsed and was examined by medics. She left the courtroom with support from Geragos.
The drama played out as part of a so-called Curcio hearing to assess whether Geragos can effectively represent Bronfman in the face of a potential dispute of interest. The hearing is set up to resume Thursday.
Avenatti was not in the courtroom Wednesday and did not respond to Fox News queries about the matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.