By K. R. Claviger
In an earlier post, we reported that the Trust Fund that was set up by Clare Bronfman to pay for attorneys to represent her co-defendants in the NXIVM slave cult criminal case – and for attorneys to represent witnesses who are willing to plead the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions posed by prosecutors in front of a Grand Jury – was rapidly running out of funds.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, the U.S. District Court judge who is presiding over the case, revealed in a January 28th court hearing that more than 75% of the funds in the Trust Fund had already been depleted since it was established in July 2018 – and asked all the attorneys who are being paid from it to tell him, in writing, what they planned to do with the funds are completely gone.
Those responses, which were due to be submitted by Friday, February 1st, were all filed “under seal” or “ex parte” – which means that they’re not available to the general public.
But, while we don’t know exactly what the defense attorneys for Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, and Kathy Russell said in their responses to Judge Garaufis, we do know that Raniere’s lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo, told the judge in court that he – and all the other attorneys – would continue to represent their clients even after the money ran out.
Agnifilo’s confidence that all the defense attorneys representing Raniere, the Salzmans, Mack, and Russell would continue to work without pay raises an interesting question: Who selected all these attorneys in the first place?
Normally, anyone who has been arrested or indicted will hire a criminal defense attorney to defend themselves – or, if they cannot afford to pay for one, ask the court to appoint one for them.
But in this case, it appears that none of Bronfman’s co-defendants were involved in the selection process of who would represent them.
Seriously, does anyone believe that Lauren Salzman spent time researching all the available criminal defense attorneys in the U.S. – and decided that James L. Burke and Hector J. Diaz from the Quarles & Brady law firm in Arizona were the ones she should retain?
Or that Kathy Russell did similar research – and decided that Justine Harris and Amanda Ravich from the New York City-based Sher Tremonte law firm were the ones she should hire?
Or that Nancy Salzman selected David Stern and Robert Soloway from the New York City-based Franklin, Rothman, Schneider, Soloway, and Stern law firm to represent her?
Or that Allison Mack somehow deduced that her best chance to stay out of federal prison was to hire Sean S. Buckley, Steven Kobre, and William F. McGovern from the Washington, DC-based Kobre & Kim law firm?
Of course, none of those things ever happened.
So, just who did select the attorneys for each of the NXIVM Numbskull defendants?
Was it Keith Raniere, the “smartest man in the world” – and the Vanguard of the NXIVM slave cult?
Or was it Clare Bronfman, the woman who financed all of the cult’s illegal operations – and who is the one actually paying for the horde of defense attorneys who are getting rich off this case?
Or was it Marc Agnifilo – who claims that he can speak on behalf of all the defense attorneys — and who quickly assured Judge Garaufis that they would all continue to represent their respective clients even after the Trust Fund was depleted without consulting with any of them?
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Judge Garaufis will be conducting Curcio hearings to ensure that each of Clare Bronfman’s co-defendants is fully aware of the fact that their attorneys may have a gigantic conflict-of-interest since they are all being paid from the Trust Fund that she established to pay their legal fees: i.e., Is their legal advice being tainted by the fact that they’re being paid for from that Trust Fund?
But maybe the Trust Fund is not the only conflict-of-interest here.
Isn’t the fact that Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney, can seemingly commit all the defense attorneys to work for free an indication that they are under his control?
Isn’t the fact that Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney, the one who now speaks on behalf of all of Bronfman’s co-defendants at every hearing, a clear indication that the rest of the defense attorneys are merely his puppets?
Maybe Judge Garaufis also needs to conduct Curcio hearings for all the attorneys who are being controlled by Marc Agnifilo before the judge decides whether to appoint independent attorneys to represent each of Clare’s co-defendants.
Marc Agnifilo: The Puppetmaster?