Joe O’Hara was hired by Raniere-world for business and PR advice in the early 2000s. Although NXIVM claimed that they hired him as an attorney, his contractual agreement specifically excluded the provision of any “legal services.”.
Raniere-world’s big problem at the time was bad press due to the Sutton family hiring Rick Ross to convince a son to leave Raniere-world, which resulted in some of their lesson material getting to Ross. Ross commissioned some psychologists to analyze it and published their analysis (still easily found online).
Raniere-world both sued (and lost all the way up to the Supreme Court) and hired shady detectives to dig up dirt on Ross.
O’Hara did facilitate the lawsuits, but not the detective work, some of which was clearly illegal.
When O’Hara found what NXIVM’s private investigators were doing, he reported to Keith Raniere that his minions were breaking the law, that they needed to stop, and that O’Hara would not participate. He didn’t actually go to the authorities, but he became a threat. So, Mr. Raniere turned his lawyers loose on Mr. O’Hara, with multiple civil lawsuits, criminal charges, etc.
The legal bills essentially bankrupted Mr. O’Hara, and Mr. Raniere’s lawyers then interfered with the bankruptcy case (another Raniere tactic used against many of his “enemies”).
The civil and criminal cases against O’Hara directly involving Raniere-world were all dropped or decided in O’Hara’s favor.
But he did plead guilty in a plea-bargain deal in a completely unrelated case. Multiple people in the El Paso, Texas school district were convicted of taking bribes to grant contracts, and one of Mr. O’Hara’s companies had made one $5,000 contribution to the re-election campaign of one of the bribe takers. The recipient (probably in a plea bargain to reduce his sentence on other, bigger bribes) said it was a bribe from Mr. O’Hara’s local rep. The local rep (probably in a plea bargain) said it was a bribe and that his boss, Mr. O’Hara, was responsible.
Mr. O’Hara has always maintained that the $5,000 was a campaign donation from a Political Action Committee (PAC) his company had in Texas (it had similar PACs in many states). Facing a maximum term of 20 years (a life sentence at his age), and nearly bankrupted by Mr. Raniere, Mr. O’Hara later pled guilty and received a three year sentence.