Judge Orders Defense Attorneys To Turn Over Details Of Legal Defense Trust Fund

Clare Bronfman unleashes her flying monkeys (Painting by MK10ART)

Via a sua sponte Order, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, the presiding U.S.District Court judge in the criminal case of U.S. v. Raniere Et Al, has ordered the defendants to turn over the documents that detail the terms and conditions of the Legal Defense Trust that Clare Bronfman established just before she was indicted earlier this year (A sua sponte Order is one that is issued by the judge without any prior motion orrequest from the parties involved in a case).   

And in what can only be interpreted as an indication of just how interested he is in seeing those documents, the judge warned that if the defendants are unable to comply with his order, “…the court will take such further steps as are necessary to…” procure the documents.

Questions regarding the trust first arose when the prosecution suggested that the defense attorneys for Clare’s co-defendants (i.e., Keith Raniere, Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman, Nancy Salzman, and Kathy Russell) may have a conflict-of-interest in the case because they’re all being paid from the trust – which might cause them to act in accord with Clare’s best interests as opposed to those of their respective clients.

As we reported in an earlier post, one of the attorneys who represents the trustee for the trust refused to turn over a copy of the documents when requested to do so by the prosecution. And as we correctly noted in that post, “Needless to say, if Judge Garaufis decides he needs to look at those documents, he’ll likely get to do just that”.

In the same Order that he issued yesterday, Judge Garaufis also directed the prosecution to submit a letter, on or before December 17th, addressing any issues it has with respect to the fact that the trust has been used to pay the legal fees of potential witnesses – and proposing steps for the court to take to resolve those issues.

This apparently is related to the fact that at least one potential witness was told that her legal fees would be paid by the trust only if she agreed to plead the Fifth Amendment when questioned in front of the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in this case.   

The full text of Judge Garaufis December 13th order is as follows:

The Government is DIRECTED to submit a letter, by no later than December 17, 2018, addressing the issues, if any, raised by the Trust’s payment of witnesses’ legal fees and proposing steps for the court to take to cure these issues. (See Gov’t Nov. 30, 2018 Letter (Dkt. [210]) at 3.) Defendants are DIRECTED, by no later than December 17, 2018, to submit the Trust’s indenture, which may be filed ex parte and under seal. If Defendants are unable to submit the Trust’s indenture, thecourt will take such further steps as are necessary to procure it. Defendantsare also DIRECTED, by no later than December 19, 2018, to respond jointly tothe Government’s letter. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 12/13/2018.


Things are definitely starting to heat up in this case – and readers are advised to ask Santa for more popcorn because it looks like there’s going to be a lot to watch as this little mini-drama continues to unfold over the next few months.

Some of the big questions that we’ll likely get answers to in the near future are as follows:

  1. Is the judge going to let all of Clare’s co-defendants continue being represented by attorneys that are being paid for from the trust – or will he rule that the conflict-of-interest created by that situation is so great that they cannot waive it (If that happens, most – if not all – of Clare’s co-defendants will end up being represented by court-appointed attorneys)?
  • Is the judge going to let potential witnesses continue to be intimidated and manipulated by attorneys being paid by the trust who want them to do things that would be beneficial to Clare and not to themselves?
  • Is the judge going to allow the trust to be used to provide different levels of legal representation for Clare’s co-defendants (Some observers have estimated that the attorneys representing Keith Raniere have thus far accounted for more than 60% of all the legal billings in the case)?
  • Will a superseding indictment add more charges against Raniere, Bronfman, Mack, Russell, and Salzmans  – and/or add new defendants to the case?
  • Will one or more of the co-defendants flip and become star witnesses for the prosecution?

About the author

K.R. Claviger


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  • The current defendants are the low hanging fruit in this case. Easy pickings and all will do jail time. The power elite are pulling the strings on these puppets. A puppet show brought to us from Mexico and the US Politicians from both sides of the aisle; Drugs Guns Sex Slavery and Banking

    Wonder why so many politicians in this country are fabulously wealthy after taking office??

  • Clare will now be the one to cooperate with the prosecution, their star witness. Only move strategically she has now with the trust coming undone and knowing that with this turn of events, all other defendants will be forced to accept representation by public defenders. In this scenario, Raniere et al will all be falling over one another to take a plea. What none of them will know yet is that Clare will have already beat them to the punch.

    • Interesting scenario, Tree. One card Clare could still play would be witness intimidation. Or it might be played for her and to her by the super-wealthy, super-connected Mexican members. Clare is not the biggest or richest fish in the NXIVM pond.

  • The judge shouldn’t go too far with this, or he will introduce another appeal risk. The defendants need to know and accept the risk of their defense being funded from a central source that may or may not have their best interests in mind, but not so far that they are forced to have a court appointed, less capable lawyer to represent them. The concept of “you get what you pay for” is a factor.

    • Federal public defenders are generally not considered “less capable” amongst lawyers. In fact Federal public defenders are among of -only- public defenders in the legal profession who are regarded as highly capable. If Defendants find themselves with Federal Public Defenders, they may not only find a breath of fresh air knowing the self-serving conflicts of Clare and others have been eliminated, but the quality of legal representation for those Defendants may actually -increase- from what they had by virtue of the “trust” payments.

      Federal Public Defenders are generally from white-glove, “big” law firm backgrounds. God Forbid anyone is charged with a crime in federal court, it would be fine to be represented by the FPD’s office, especially in New York.


  • Only goes to show that KAR and Clare Bear are once again failures at their attempts to use their power to control a legal case.
    One would think that KAR would finally get it through this massive mind that he is not in the top three in problem solving and not as smart as his ego tells him he is.

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


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