The author’s reminiscences on Raniere, Keeffe and the treatment of lawyers
January 8, 2016
Recently I was asked a series of questions by a reader.
Q: How did the NXIVM lawyers get treated?
A: The lawyers were treated disrespectfully. One lawyer, I discovered double billed. Another lawyer was getting paid by the hour and secretly taking a ‘kick-back’ from a larger law firm he recommended. I brought these to the attention of NXIVM and saved them substantial money in legal fees.
At all times, bloodlust was the goal. Getting indictments superseded any civil victories. Keith Raniere made it clear that in order for NXIVM to get credibility its enemies must be destroyed.
Q: Were they at least sympathetic to the great “ethical” program of NXIVM?
No, secretly the lawyers despised NXIVM and they let it be known to me and to the other lawyers, even the opposing lawyers, and sometimes the judges. They loved the pay but disliked the injustices Raniere was trying to accomplish.
Did they seem to be under Keith’s control?
Not in the least. Raniere never or rarely spoke with the lawyers. Several of them admitted to me that they had earned hundreds of thousands and had never met or even spoken to Raniere.
Did that degree of closeness happen immediately, or do you think you were “on probation” for a while, while they decided how much you could be trusted?
I seemed to have been trusted almost from the start. I mentioned earlier that most of Raniere disciples – through long NXIVM training – were not competent to do much. Since I was, I was welcomed eagerly.
The exception was Karen Underriener. She seemed to have the most administrative ability.
They were constantly scrambling for money, stiffing lawyers and vendors, picking fights with lawyers so they could dump them and always leaning on Clare and Sara Bronfman to put more money in. Meantime evidently they were secreting cash at Nancy Salzman’s house for Raniere’s use.
Clare seemed almost completely incompetent to do any work whatsoever – she could barely spell – except she had the ability to try to buy people.
Most of the people secretly did not like her.
I found her congenial sometimes and for the most part willing to listen to what she was told to do.
However she could never make any serious decision without consulting with Raniere and in his presence she would sit at his feet on the floor, not unlike a dog does with its master.
Sara had better manners and might almost be called gracious.
Many times I was told that the hold on Sara was far less than Clare and there were fears she might slip away one day taking her money with her.
I expect that they would have tried to get you to take the Ethos course, so they could get your list of emotional weaknesses, tear you down with them, and tell you that they (and only they) can teach you how to overcome them.
I made it clear from the start that taking courses was not an option for me so that never came up. I was once invited to write a module for a new NXIVM class, I forgot now what the topic was. But I never got to it.
If you wouldn’t take the course, they would have to use other means to decide if they could trust you.
I was completely loyal when I worked there. I liked Keith and Nancy. I dined with them. Spoke with them frequently and worked about 18 hours a day seven days a week on all manner of projects and addressed problems that cropped up.
At the time, as I have said before, I had no idea the extent of Keith’s brutality to women and other enemies.
I saw him as an amusing, friendly equal, who I could do business with and could possibly be friends with.
Perhaps had he not been spoiled by the Bronfman devotion/millions, and had I not uncovered the massive fraud being perpetrated against the Bronfmans in Los Angeles, Raniere might have been a successful businessman and we might have worked together as friends accomplishing a wide array of tasks.
I also had a good relationship with Kristin Keeffe, the mother of Raniere’s son. At the time I was there, she was the number #3 person in NXIM and was feared by many in the group as the smartest and most ruthless next to Keith.
The lie was being told then that Raniere and Keeffe’s son was an orphan and the child’s father was unknown and that Keeffe had adopted the boy. I believed it at the time. Later I came to see the striking resemblance between the boy and his father.
I spent considerable time with the child and Keeffe. We would often take long drives around Saratoga Lake and dine out – at places that served vegetarian food.
Keeffe I found to be remarkably intelligent, with a fine sense of humor. Although she had been loyal to Keith for decades, she confided to me on many occasions her concerns about Keith’s conduct.
At times she blamed herself for some of the bad press that came from losing lawsuits which she handled.
I told her the lawsuits were all ill-advised and that this was the cause of the bad press.
Later she came to agree.
And she fled from the cult taking her son with her.
His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.
His work helping take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg; “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson; “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La secta que sedujo al poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.
Parlato has been featured prominently on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.
Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Gretchen Carlson Show, Dr. Oz and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato scored the first ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest, which many credit Parlato with engineering. He will be featured in an upcoming episode of American Greed.