Prosecution told Kathy Russell’s law firm has partner who once clerked for Judge Giraufis and has ‘close personal relationship’ with judge

Michael Tremonte is the founder of Sher Tremonte and a close personal friend of Judge Nicholas Giraufis. His law firm represents Kathy Russell.

Kathy Russell’s attorney, Justine Harris, of the NYC law firm of Sher Tremonte, has written to DOJ prosecutors Moira Kim Penza, Tanya Hajjar and Karin K. Orenstein, to inform them that her senior law partner, Michael Tremonte, once clerked for Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in 2000-2001 and “has a close personal relationship with the judge.”

Harris wrote. “To address any potential concerns as to bias, we are screening Mr. Tremonte from any involvement in the above-referenced case, including taking steps to ensure that he does not have access to any files or confidential information relating to this matter and does not participate in any substantive discussions relating to our representation of Kathy Russell.

See letter:

It is not uncommon in the legal community for lawyers to be friends with judges. Harris’ proposal is standard: Tremonte is not be involved in any official capacity in the Russell case.

Whether there is any unofficial communications is always hard to say, for lawyer and judges talk. But, typically, the fact that a lawyer and a judge are very good friends is usually not grounds for a defendant not to be able to retain the law firm.

In fact, many defendants seek such lawyers who have such friendships and hope to use them to their advantage.

Similarly many lawyers without directly mentioning it flaunt their relationships with judges. In fairness – many prosecutors are close to judge’s also. This is because many judges were former prosecutors and their former colleagues and friends are prosecuting cases before them all the time.

This has given rise to the adage, “It is good to know the law. But it is better to know the judge.”

Since Kathy Russell is the lowest level NXIVM member charged to date, it strikes me as not a calculating or sinister move that someone [likely Bronfman] selected Sher Tremonte and is paying for her lawyers – or that one of the senior partners of the firm is close to the judge trying the case.

If Sher Tremonte were Raniere’s or Clare Bronfman’s lawyers, I would have some cause for concern. That is not to cast an adverse reflection on Sher Tremonte, but only to suggest that with Bronfman millions and the current state of the American money-driven prison industry-friendly legal system – that [like in most countries] anything [but justice] could happen.

It is naive to believe otherwise and shows a colossal ignorance of human nature.

As it stands, however, Kathy Russell is a mere pawn in this case – a woman that Bronfman-Raniere would willingly sacrifice as a  “fall girl.” For the prosecution, she is known to be low level – and was charged perhaps because she knows a lot and might flip and also because she was low hanging fruit. She was the stupid one who signed all kinds of document [part of Keith’s plan].

The woman who ordered her to do the signing – her manager – was Karen Unterreiner who has not yet been charged. If Kathy is guilty, Karen is a thousand times more so.


Judge Nicholas Garaufis

It is interesting that Kathy’s bail is being posted by two NXIVM members – Karen Abney and [Name redacted] – both of whom were  known [like all NXIVM members] to not have any money. Abney came up with $25,000 cash and [Name redacted] is set to come up with $150,000 in collateral.

The hands of Sara Bronfman-Igtet and Clare Bronfman are seemingly behind the bail and paying for Russell’s attorneys.

That is a conflict that might be more serious than a judge’s friendship with the top partner in the law firm representing Russell.





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Frank Parlato

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5 years ago

Let’s tell the brutal truth about New York State and American politics.

Bill Clinton is a fixer who was able to fix the case against his wife for mishandling classified information.
A submarine sailor who did a lot less than Hillary received a year in military prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Bill Clinton controls New York State politics behind the scenes and runs the Empire State the same way he ran Arkansas.

And this judge is a political hack appointed by the Arkansas Grifter himself.

Too many powerful families are threatened by this case.
The Bronfmans and their empire based in Canada and the Salinas gang based in Mexico.

There will be fall guys who will be paid off to stay silent.

Raniere is personally toast but expect Mack and the Salzmans to get Silence Money.
Indeed after they are released from prison they will probably go right back to NXIVM or its affiliates.
You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.
And NXIVM will be renamed and no doubt crazy American Gringas will serve as front people for the cult/criminal gang.
But the real controllers will be wealthy Mexicans pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

Shlomo Finkelstein
Shlomo Finkelstein
5 years ago

“It is naive to believe otherwise and shows a colossal ignorance of human nature.”

Frank, the same “colossal ignorance of human nature” applies to your continuous defense of Scott Johnson.

In this case, if Tremonte removes himself from the case, no harm, no foul.

A Nony Mouse
A Nony Mouse
5 years ago

Looks like Clare will be traveling as much as she wants, wherever she wants. Also, I’m sure she’ll be allowed to contact all the NXIVM members she wants after tomorrow!

5 years ago
Reply to  A Nony Mouse

yes. And she will. I cannot believe she will be allowed to threaten and manipulate and tamper with witnesses to her heart’s content after tomorrow. Clare’s word has about as much worth and meaning as a monkey’s. In fact, less than that.

5 years ago

The fix is in.

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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