Blast from the past: Role of Joe O’Hara in exposing Rick Ross Sting Operation

Joe O'Hara was spied on by NXIVM, but the spies they hired were so incompetent that they provided phony bank statements.

If anyone wants some insight into how Keith Raniere conducts litigation, they should review the memorandum and order off Judge Treece in NXIVM v O’Hara.

Read the complete memo and order here: 2009, 02 09 Judge Treece: Memo and order on NXIVM v Ohara: Aviv plot

Here is the timeline:


Stephanie Franco attended an Executive Success Programs intensive and was provided material for which she signed a confidentiality agreement not to disclose to the public. Franco later shared this information with cult intervention specialist, Rick Ross.

Ross distributed the group’s copyrighted material to mental-health experts for analysis and then posted their findings on his website,


NXIVM filed a lawsuit in US District Court against Ross seeking damages of nearly $10 million, and asked the courts to force Ross to remove the critical material alleging violations of trademark and copyright laws.


NXIVM contacted Joseph O’Hara, a consultant, to assist them because NXIVM’s business was affected by negative publicity generated by its litigation against Ross.

O’Hara met with Nancy Salzman and the parties agreed to enter into a Professional Service Agreement and  were operating under this Agreement even though it was not signed by Salzman.


NXIVM hired the investigative firm of Interfor Inc. to investigate Rick Ross. Interfor began surveillance of him at his residence.


Despite knowing Ross was represented by attorneys, NXIVM and Interfor devised a plan to trick Ross into talking about his legal defense in the NXIVM v. Ross case. Ross was contacted by Interfor President, Juval Aviv, and a meeting was set up. Ross was unaware that Interfor was working for NXIVM case.

Unaware of the scheme, Ross met, at Interfor’s Office, with Aviv, Anna Moody, Aviv’s assistant, and an actress hired by NXIVM to deceive Ross. The actress, Susan L. Zuckerman, portrayed a distraught mother who said her daughter ‘Judy’ was locked in the nefarious clutches of NXIVM and in need of an intervention specialist like Ross.

Ross  was told that Zuckerman was an old friend of Aviv’s.

The investigative team’s sole purpose was to discover Ross’ investigative techniques, whether he had other NXIVM/ESP clients, and ascertain what he knew about NXIVM.

Ross recalls being asked questions that included:
(a) Everything I knew about NXIVM;
(b) What was my experience with the organization;
(c) Why I considered NXIVM destructive;
(d) The number of complaints I had received about NXIVM;
(e) How does NXIVM brainwash people;
(f) My work history with NXIVM clients; and
(g) How I would handle Zuckerman’s case.

Also: What did I really think of Keith Raniere? Did I think he was a cult leader? What did I think of their process of Intensives and seminars? How many complaints have I received [about NXIVM]?”

November 23

Interfor accidentally faxed a nine page confidential report on Ross to O’Hara. (All such reports were supposed to be sent by Interfor directly to NXIVM’s Legal Liaison, Kristin Keeffe).  The report bears the title “Status Report,” under which Rick Ross’ name is printed. It contains sections such as “Criminal Record” and “Communications.” The section titled Financial Information lists 14 of Ross’ recent financial transactions, debits and credits.

This report includes banking activity of Ross, private telephone conversations and medical records.

November 24

O’Hara hand-delivered a memorandum to Raniere and Salzman noting, that: “my initial review of this document indicates that at least some of the information that is contained therein could not have been obtained legally… [e.g. information from Rick Ross’ medical records; detailed information concerning recent activity in his checking account; detailed information concerning his recent telephone calls.). . . Although I was aware that (INTERFOR) was going to be undertaking a “Confidential Investigation” of Mr. Ross – … I was not aware that this review would involve any illegal (and potentially criminal activities … it is imperative that you – … immediately direct INTERFOR to cease and desist any such activities….. (Note: This specifically includes, but is not limited to, the “Sting Operation” that Keith has proposed having INTERFOR undertake with respect to Mr. Ross.(”


January 2:

After realizing NXIVM planned to continue illegal activities, O’Hara sent an email to Raniere informing him that their professional relationship was severed.

April 7:

Interfor contacted Ross to set up another meeting.

April 20 :

They met and Interfor asked Ross to intervene with Zuckerman’s daughter on a cruise ship outside NXIVM’s influence. Susan Zuckerman, the actress hired for these meetings, said her daughter was going to be on the ship and Ross was to be on that ship to deprogram her.

They continued this connivance by retaining Ross to intervene on behalf of this phony Zuckerman family and extended a $2,500 retainer to him. Zuckerman, through her agent, Interfor, entered into an agreement with Ross and gave him the $2,500 retainer.

The plan to get Ross to conduct this intervention on a cruise ship ultimately collapsed from its own design.  Ross made it clear to Interfor that he would not be alone with the “Judy,” that someone would have to be in the room with them, he says. That’s his policy. Shortly after that, he was told that Susan Zuckerman had changed her mind. He was given no further explanation.  Ross was advised that the intervention would not go forward, and that his services were no longer necessary.

August 18:

NXIVM commenced a lawsuit against O’Hara in US District Court. NXIVM alleged legal malpractice, racketeering, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment.


O’Hara mailed the Interfor Report to Ross.


O’Hara sent Albany Metroland reporter Chet Hardin a copy of the Interfor Report on Ross.

July 4

Chet Hardin contacted Ross to discuss NXIVM ‘s efforts to investigate him and lure him onto a cruise ship.

July 12:

O’Hara called Ross and explained the Sting Plot against him, and discussed some of the intimate machinations of NXIVM’s staff and consultants.

August 10:

A story ‘Stress in the Family‘ was published in Metroland and the plot was revealed to the public.

According to a NXIVM insider, the plan to get Ross on a cruise ship was a sting; the concerned-mother scenario was invented. And the role of daughter “Judy” was going to be performed by one of Raniere’s  associates.
“What their goal was, ultimately, in the deception, I don’t know,” Ross says. But the scenarios are chilling. What could they have had in mind in going to such lengths to get him alone on a cruise ship with a member of NXIVM’s inner circle?


NXIVM sued Metroland for $65 million. The suit also sought to have one or more articles pulled from Metroland’s website.


The lawsuit against Rick Ross was dismissed.

The lawsuit against Metroland was dismissed.

The lawsuit against Joe O’Hara was dismissed.

The indictment against O’Hara for computer trespassing was dismissed.


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


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