Dramatic reenactment: Alex Betancourt is selected as ‘fall guy’

For those who do not like anything less than straight news about Keith Raniere, you might wish to skip the following: 

Dramatic Reenactment:

The pictures that follow are not actually of Vanguard and his followers, but merely used to illustrate excerpts from our script, ‘Vanguard Needs a Fall Guy’.

Narrator: This is going to be the most astounding thing you have ever heard of, and I say that knowing that you must already know some astounding things. What do you know about Keith Raniere of Clifton Park, later known as Vanguard?

He persuaded Emiliano Salinas and Alex Betancourt to partner up in owning an Executive Success Programs Center in Mexico City. He also persuaded them to become gay lovers. He made them to one condition: They were to give him tribute.

Emi and Alex were profoundly grateful to Vanguard for his generosity in teaching them ethics and executive success.  That’s why they are so loyal to him now.



L-r: Emiliano Salinas [holding collateral], Alex Betancourt, Clare Bronfman, Vanguard [seated]



Vanguard: If you leave me, how are you gonna get branded? And if I know you can’t afford to not get branded, how are you gonna not be enslaved by my promise of branding you?

Ludwika: Well, sir, there are other means of getting branded besides getting it from you.

Vanguard: Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ’em any good unless the threat of collateral is behind them – do you see what I mean? If you start something, I’ll make it a matter of my having to release the collateral or call it off.

Ludwika[chuckling] That’s an attitude that calls for the most delicate judgment on both sides. ‘Cause as you know, sir, in the heat of branding, women are likely to forget where their collateral lies and their emotions carry them away.

Vanguard: Then the trick from my angle is to make your collateral strong enough to tie you up, but not make me mad enough to release your collateral against my better judgment.

Ludwika: By gad, sir, you are a Vanguard.


Executive Success Programs Executive Board meeting

Things were going bad with the media outing DOS, and with law enforcement diving into the criminal activities of this bizarre and secretive cult. 

The board convenes

Vanguard: We’ve got to have a fall guy. The FBI need a victim, somebody they can pin the DOS blackmail, pubic branding, human trafficking and financial crimes on.

Emiliano: Come, Vanguard, you can’t expect us to believe that you –  the smartest man in the world – is afraid of the FBI, or that you’re not quite able to handle this situation.

Vanguard: I’ve got to find somebody, a victim when the time comes. If I don’t, I’ll be it.

Clare Bronfman: Let’s give them Alex Betancourt.

L-r; Alex, Clare and Emiliano

Lauren Salzman: He’s made to order for the part. Look at him!

Lauren: Did I please you Vanguard?

Karen: Yes, let’s give Alex to them.

Karen: Let’s give them Alex.

Vanguard: By gad, you are all characters. That you are! There’s never any telling what you’ll say or do next… …but it’s bound to be astonishing.

Clare: Alex is our best bet. With him in their hands…

Vanguard: But, my dear Clare, can’t you see that if I even for a moment… thought of doing such a thing… That’s ridiculous. I feel towards Alex here just exactly as if he were my own son. Really, I do. But if I even for a moment thought of doing what you propose… …what in the world would keep Alex from telling the police… every last detail about the collateral and all…

What would stop Alex from telling the FBI where the collateral is stored?

Clare: Let him talk his head off. I’ll guarantee you nobody in the US Attorney’s office in the Northern District of New York will do anything about it. Nor the FBI – and certainly not the Albany County DA. Having money means you never have to plead guilty to anything.

Vanguard: Well, what do you think of this, Alex? Mighty funny, eh?

Alex: Mighty funny.

Vanguard: If you’re really serious, the least we can do in common politeness is to hear you out. Now, how would you be able to fix it so that Alex couldn’t do us any harm?

Clare: I can show David Soares, our DA, that if he goes around… …tryin’ to collect everybody he’ll have a tangled case… …but if he sticks to Alex and Allison Mack, he can get a conviction… standing on his head.

Alex: Get up on your feet Clare. I’ve taken all the riding from you I’m gonna take.

Vanguard: Now, now, Alex. We can’t have any of that. You shouldn’t attach such importance to these things.

Alex: Tell her to lay off me then.

Vanguard: Now, Alex… Your plan is, not at all satisfactory. Let’s not say anything more about it.

Clare: All right. I’ve got another suggestion. Maybe not as good as the first, but it’s better than nothing. Want to hear it?

Vanguard: Most assuredly.

Clare: Give them Emiliano.

Vanguard: Well, by gad, Clare…

Emiliano: Suppose we give them Clare?

Vanguard: As for Clare …if you think she can be rigged for the part, I’m willing to discuss it with you. But let’s not forget that without her, we’re all broke.

The Executive Board votes 

Vanguard : [To Alex] Six, two and even, they’re selling you out, Alex.


Clare: I hope you’re not letting yourself be influenced by the collateral this trust fund homosexual waves around, because I’ve practiced taking collateral away from gay boys before, so we’ll have no trouble there.

The board votes 4-1 to make Alex the fall guy

Vanguard: Alex, I’m sorry to lose you, but I want you to know… I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. Well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Vanguard. When you’re young and gay, you simply don’t understand these things.

When you’re young, you don’t understand these things.


After the board meeting, Emi and Alex speak alone for the last time:

Emiliano: Vanguard’s gonna send you over. The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means if you’re a good boy, you’ll be out in 20 years. I’ll be waiting for you. If they kill you, I’ll always remember you.

Alex: Don’t, Emiliano. Don’t say it even in fun. Ha, ha, ha. Oh, I was frightened for a minute. I really thought…Vanguard does such wild and unpredictable things.

Emiliano: Don’t be silly. You’re taking the fall.

Alex: Vanguard’s been playing with me. Just pretending he was teaching me ethics to trap me like this.

Emiliano: You branded the women, you took the collateral, your signature is on all the  documents and you’re going over for it.

Alex: How can you do this to me?  … [crying]

Emiliano: Vanguard is in jeopardy. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him; he is Vanguard and it happens we’re in the life coaching business. Well, when Vanguard gets bad press, maybe a criminal indictment, it’s – it’s bad business. Bad all around. Bad for every cult everywhere.

Alex: You don’t expect me to think that these things you’re saying are sufficient reasons for sending me to the…

Emiliano[interrupting]  Wait until I’m through. Then you can talk. Vanguard has no earthly reason to think he can trust you, and, if he lets you get away, you’ll have collateral that you can use whenever you want. Since he’s got collateral on you, I couldn’t be sure that you wouldn’t put a Mexican arrest warrant out on me some day. All those are on one side. Maybe some of them are unimportant – I won’t argue about that – but look at the number of them. And what have we got on the other side? All we’ve got is that maybe I le gusta que le dan candela por el culo. 

Alex: You know whether you le gusta que le dan candela por el culo. 

Emiliano: Maybe I do. Well, I’ll have some rotten nights after Vanguard sent you over, but that will pass. If all I’ve said doesn’t mean anything to you, then forget it and we’ll make it just this: You counted on Vanguard. Don’t be too sure Vanguard is as ethical as he’s supposed to be. That sort of reputation might be good business, bringing high-net worth heiresses and making it easier to deal with empty headed actresses. But if you had had a lot more money, that would have been one more item of collateral on your side of the scale.

Alex: If you’d loved me, you wouldn’t have needed any more collateral on that side.


Alex is arrested and thrown into a Mexican prison. When Vanguard hears the news, he seems unusually happy.

Clare: You despise Alex, don’t you?

Vanguard: If I gave him any thought, I probably would.


Corrupt official Fernando Jose Gomez

A poor, corrupt Mexico City State Attorney, Fernando Jose Gomez, was being used by Alex Betancourt to threaten Americans to stop talking about DOS. 

After Alex was arrested, Fernando found he was under surveillance from Interpol. 

Fernando Jose Gomez: I’m shocked, shocked to find that branding is going on in NXIVM!



Vanguard, Mark Hildreth and Ludwika Paleta.

To escape prosecution, Vanguard retired to Fiji. Emiliano and Clare did not make it. Vanguard needed additional fall guys.

On a visit to Fiji, Mark Hildreth and Ludwika Paleta were reunited.

Mark Hildreth: Vanguard, I’ve often speculated why you stay in Fiji and don’t return to America. Did you abscond with the Bronfman’s funds? Run off with [Name Redacted]’s wife? I like to think you got Kristin Snyder to commit suicide. It’s the Romantic in me.

Vanguard: It was a combination of all three.



About the author

Frank Parlato

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About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

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 to expose and 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 prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com