This article originally appeared in the Niagara Falls Reporter, which is owned by Frank Parlato.
By Darryl McPherson, Esq.
On October 17, 2017, the New York Times published a story highlighting some of the brutal activities connected to the self-help organization known as NXIVM, which included branding women with the initials of its leader, Keith Raniere. NXIVM, and its affiliated entities, have been abusing women and exploiting its membership for years, apparently with unbridled impunity.
The release of the New York Times story serves somewhat to vindicate the efforts of Niagara Falls Reporter publisher Frank Parlato, who broke the story of the branding in his newspaper and on his blog, the Frank Report, in June 2017. Mr. Parlato has been in the forefront of reporting on the abuses of Mr. Raniere and NXIVM for years, since he personally became ensnared in the organization’s vicious web of litigious vindictiveness.
NXIVM has used the legal system against its enemies from the beginning, financed by the contributions of Clare and Sara Bronfman, heiresses to the Seagram liquor fortune, and willing thralls of Mr. Raniere. They primarily go after journalists who have written negative things about the group or its founder. They also will not hesitate to go after people who leave the organization, and reveal some of the unsavory aspects of the operation.
Mr. Parlato was never a member of NXIVM. He was initially brought on as a consultant to promote NXIVM and later on to help rescue a failing real estate deal in California. The Bronfmans later sued Mr. Parlato, claiming he had defrauded them of $1 million. That suit would generate a criminal prosecution, which is currently winding its way through federal and state courts. Mr. Parlato vehemently denies the charges.
In 2008, Mr. Parlato signed a Letter of Intent (LOI), which detailed that he would receive 33.33% of net profits generated from his management of a real property development venture. That would serve as his compensation. He would also receive a one million dollar advance, which would be deducted from the net profits he was projected to receive. That sum would also constitute a lien against his interest in a Niagara Falls property. Though Mr. Parlato signed the LOI, the Bronfmans apparently did not.
Subsequently, in March 2011, during a trial in California, Clare Bronfman was shown the LOI, identified Frank Parlato’s signature, but was unsure about the agreement as it related to the million dollars. She felt there was an agreement to loan Mr. Parlato a million dollars in a separate agreement (that has never been produced) and that there was never any agreement to pay 33.33% of the net profits, which is why the LOI was not signed.
However, in June of 2011, before a grand jury, she testified that the LOI was the “initial agreement” that she recalled “actually being entered into.”
When Clare Bronfman sued Mr. Parlato in New York, in April 2012, she stated in her verified complaint that the Bronfmans loaned Mr. Parlato one million dollars as a demand loan without a written agreement.
Yet when the federal government indicted Mr. Parlato, based on representations made by the Bronfmans, it was alleged that there was a written 2008 agreement to pay Mr. Parlato one million dollars for his services to the Bronfmans.
Consistently, Clare Bronfman has twisted the circumstances to suit her own goals under oath, obfuscating the truth and allowing the government to prosecute Mr. Parlato under the guise that she was defrauded.
She conveniently displayed certainty that the Letter of Intent was not entered into because of the 33.33% compensation deal in March 2011, but then relies on the terms of that same agreement to explain paying one million dollars to Mr. Parlato. Who’s defrauding whom?
In other cases pursued by Mr. Raniere and Clare Bronfman, the judges often caught on to the vindictive nature of their litigation.
This is the guile and ingenuity that operates at the top of NXIVM. Mr. Raniere has used the Bronfmans’ money to perpetuate this scheme on hundreds of people. Now the national spotlight has finally fallen upon the self-proclaimed “Vanguard”. Almost certainly, there will be other crimes uncovered. While it may be too late for the branded victims, hopefully the authorities will take heed and act in the interests of true justice.