The NXIVM Lawyers – Part I: Michael P. McDermott

Michael P. McDermott {Photo courtesy Albany Times Union]

During its 20-year run, the NXIVM crime syndicate employed lots of attorneys as it harassed and tortured individuals who were considered to be “enemies” of the cult.

Some of these attorneys were involved in one or more of the numerous civil lawsuits that NXIVM and/or members of NXIVM initiated in various state courts and federal courts against those “enemies” (This included interventions in the bankruptcy cases of several of the people that NXIVM brought to financial ruin).

Others were involved in convincing local and/or federal prosecutors to bring criminal charges against one or more of those same “enemies”.

Some were – and some still are – involved in both types of nefarious activities.

This is the first in a series of posts that will take a look at some of these attorneys – and what role they played in helping the NXIVM crime syndicate (These posts are being done in random order rather than in order of importance).

Michael P. McDermott
Michael P. McDermott is currently a “shareholder” in the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm (A “shareholder” is the modern equivalent of what used to be referred to as a “partner” in a law firm).

Just prior to joining O&A, McDermott was the Chief Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the Albany County District Attorney.

His boss was none other than the ethics-challenged P. David Soares – who, of course, has his own close ties to the NXIVM cult.

McDermott, a graduate of Albany Law School, had also worked for the Rensselaer County District Attorney and was a partner in the former Albany law firm of Bouck, Holloway, Kiernan, and Casey.

Along with two of the other shareholders at O&A – Stephen R. Coffey and Pamela A. Nichols – McDermott played a key role in getting bogus criminal computer trespass charges brought against three of NXIVM’s biggest enemies: Toni Natalie, Joe O’Hara, and John Tighe.

Indeed, it was McDermott who reached out to David Rossi, his former underling at the Albany County DA’s Office – and convinced him that Albany County should undertake an investigation of Natalie, O’Hara, and Tighe.

Whether McDermott informed Rossi that the Saratoga County District Attorney and the Office of the New York State Attorney General had already decided not to bring such charges is a question that only the two of them can answer.

Whether McDermott also informed Rossi that there was absolutely no jurisdictional basis for Albany County to bring any charges against Natalie, O’Hara and Tighe is another question that only the two of them can answer.

Whether McDermott and Rossi will ever be asked those question is probably up to Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Trowel, the latest addition to the prosecution’s team in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al (Trowel is a member of the EDNY’s Public Integrity Section – which, as its name suggests, focuses on cases involving the corruption of public officials like Soares and Rossi).

Throughout the time that New York State Police Senior Investigator Rodger Kirsopp was conducting his multi-year investigation of Natalie, O’Hara, and Tighe, he met on numerous occasions with, had many phone calls with, and exchanged numerous emails with McDermott (The same is true with respect to Coffey and Nichols).

Were McDermott to become a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation of the NXIVM crime syndicate, it would not be the first time that he was facing serious scrutiny over his involvement in questionable activities.

As was reported by the Times Union back on August 19, 2010, an investigation by New York State’s Inspector General found that McDermott received “preferential treatment” from staff at the Higher Education Service Corporation (HESC) – which is the agency that oversees student loans in New York State.

More specifically, the Inspector General found that HESC staff “…unlawfully arranged special treatment for former Albany County prosecutor Michael P. McDermott by reducing his student loan payments 60 percent, purging his collection debts and blocking the garnishment of his wages, at a cost of more than $24,670 to state and federal taxpayers.”

The report by the Inspector General also noted that “…from 2007 to the present, HESC reduced McDermott’s monthly payments from $1,030 to $400, in direct violation of federal requirements. Later, when McDermott repeatedly failed to pay the $400, HESC canceled his $2,111 in collection fees and continually protected him from having his wages garnished.”

So, let me just summarize what happened here:
• McDermott quit his job at the Albany County DA’s Office – and went to work for a much higher salary at the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm;
• After he started working in his new job with the much higher salary, HESC reduced the monthly payment obligation on his student loans from $1,030/month to $400/month;
• Despite the 60% reduction, McDermott repeatedly failed to meet his monthly payment obligations; and
• HESC canceled the $2,111 of collection fees that McDermott had racked up – and intervened to be sure that his wages from O&A were never garnished.

Yep…It’s easy to see why Raniere felt so good about adding Mike McDermott to his legal team.

The years have been good to Michael McDermott – as he’s lived off the fat of NXIVM land. Clearly, he has grown into his role as a member of Oconnell & Aronowitz’s “NXIVM Team” [Photo courtesy Albany Times Union.]

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K.R. Claviger

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Pitbull Robert Crockett
Pitbull Robert Crockett
4 years ago

Let’s not forget NXIVM L.A. attorney Robert Crockett formerly a partner at Latham & Watkins. After he left Latham & Watkin, he founded Crockett & Associates in 2015.

Crockett was NXIVM’s Pitbull in many of their cases outside of NY. Waiting to hear what you have to say about this very evil man.

4 years ago

From the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Professional Conduct.

Model Rules of Professional Conduct:
A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.

From the New York State Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct

RULE 1.16:
(a) A lawyer shall not accept employment on behalf of a person if the lawyer
knows or reasonably should know that such person wishes to:
(1) bring a legal action, conduct a defense, or assert a position in a
matter, or otherwise have steps taken for such person, merely for the purpose of
harassing or maliciously injuring any person;

Mike McDermott should be investigated by the New York State Bar for unprofessional conduct.

Double Anonymous
Double Anonymous
4 years ago

This gets to the heart of the matter that allowed Nx to continue its operations and harassment unabated: the infiltration and corruption of Albany, Saratoga District Attorney’s offices along with the Northern District of NY by Nxivm’s law firm which employed former Albany County prosecutors that had an inside line into those offices. Thus, the legal system became a private arm of Nxivm to humiliate and impoverish its critics.

O’Connell and Aronowitz, the prosecutor’s offices, and NDNY all need to be held legally accountable.for their misdeeds.

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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