What to Expect on Day #1 of the Trial – Mark Vicente to be First Prosecution Witness

Mark Vicente

Tomorrow, the curtain will rise on what is expected to be the 6-8 week trial of Keith Raniere, the man behind the curtain of the NXIVM criminal enterprise.

Shortly after 9:30 AM, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis will enter the courtroom, welcome the attendees, and explain the procedures and rules that will be followed throughout the trial.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis

When he’s done with that perfunctory business, Judge Garaufis will call upon the prosecution to make its opening statement.

AUSA Moira Kim Penza is expected to speak on behalf of the prosecution – and to outline for the jury the evidence and witnesses that it will put forth to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Keith Raniere is guilty of all the crimes he’s charged with in this case.

Moira Kim Penza

Just to remind everyone, those crimes are as follows (Four other charges were previously dropped – and referred to the Northern District of New York for prosecution there):
– Racketeering Conspiracy
– Racketeering
– Forced Labor Conspiracy
– Wire Fraud Conspiracy
– Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
– Sex Trafficking
– Attempted Sex Trafficking

When Penza is done with her opening statement, the judge will call upon the defense to make its opening statement.

Even though he has the option of waiting until after the prosecution has finished presenting its case against Raniere, it is expected that Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney, will also give his opening statement tomorrow morning.

Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhanessian, two of Raniere’s defense attorneys

After Agnifilo has finished his opening statement, the judge will instruct Penza to call her first witness.


There has been a good deal of speculation as to who that first prosecution witness will be.

Some have conjectured that it will be Karen Unterreiner, Raniere’s partner-in-crime for more than 30 years.

Karen Unterreiner has been with Keith Raniere since he was in his 20s. She brought him scores of women, some of whom were underage at the time.

Others have suggested it will be Sarah Edmondson, the Canadian actress who was featured in a front-page photo in the New York Times that showed the brand of Raniere’s initials on her pubic area.

Sarah Edmondson

But Frank Report has now confirmed that the first witness will be Mark Vicente, a Cinematographer and Director and a long-time member of the NXIVM cult.

Mark Vicente

At one time, Vicente was a top recruiter for the cult – bringing in, among others, Sarah Edmondson.

He was also responsible for filming many videos that featured Raniere expounding on the principles of his Rational Inquiry “technology”.

Before becoming involved with NXIVM/ESP, Vicente had gained a fair amount of fame and success in the movie industry from his “What the #$*! Do We Know?” documentary that was released in 2004.

He first got involved with NXIVM/ESP in 2005 – and eventually rose through the ranks to become a member of its Executive Board.

But Vicente became suspicious of what was going on behind the scenes when he noticed that many of the new NXIVM members – especially the ones recruited by Allison Mack – were all slender, good looking young women.

At about this same time, Vicente’s wife, Bonnie Piesse, had started reading Frank Report.

Bonnie Piesse

It was Bonnie who first knew about the members of DOS being branded with Raniere’s initials – and who encouraged Mark to find out if the story was true.

His worst fears were realized when Edmondson, his friend and Co-Director of the NXIVM Center in Vancouver, confirmed that she was one of the branded women.

Mark immediately confronted Raniere who responded by saying “I have no idea what you’re talking about”.

But Mark was unconvinced – and immediately quit.

Since then, Mark and his wife have been on a mission to rescue as many people as possible from the clutches of the cult.

In fact, it was Bonnie who tipped off Catherine Oxenberg that her daughter, India, was a branded member of DOS. Catherine then tipped off Frank Report.

Catherine & India Oxenberg

Given his long-term involvement in NXIVM – and his membership on its Executive Board – Mark will undoubtedly have a lot to say about the cult and its operations.

That’s why he may be the only witness during the first day of the trial – and why he may even be back for Day #2.


The wheels of the American justice system often grind slowly but, when things go right – which, unfortunately, is not always the case – they do produce good results.

Let’s hope that’s what happens in this case.

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K.R. Claviger

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  • And others said she left in 2012, a year earlier, does not make it true. Another said 2009. Another said in the comments the top Vancouver people said she was just away on a tv show between 2012-14.

    BTW, you are obviously SultanOfSpank.

  • It makes sense to have the first witness be a male, to make the later female witnesses appear to be more legitimate and less whiny. He also appears to be the first chapter in what would eventually bring down Raniere. So much for female empowerment.

  • So, Mark Vicente was not a part of DOS but will be giving EVIDENCE at the trial about the NXIVM cult-

    Will he talk about the many crimes that he must have known about and even participated in- What about what John Tighe said about his mother helping with the money laundering through the PO Box addresses- For Vicente to do this, it means he knew what was going on and agreed with it.

    He was named in Joe O’Hara’s lawsuit way back in Feb 2012. As was his mother. And he was named in the Times Union pedophile expose.

    • None of the higher-ups in NXIVM have clean hands.

      That said, there is a huge difference between money laundering and operating a sex slave cult.

      Once the dust settles on this trial, NXIVM will be reconstituted as a self-help group that covertly does money laundering, immigration fraud and illegal campaign contributions on the side.

      And it will be run by the Mexican elite, not by Raniere and his coterie of spoiled brat heiresses and self-absorbed actresses.

    • I know it will be impossible for many of you to understand this, but most involved with NXIVM thought they were in a self-help organization.

      They wanted to improve themselves and improve the world.

      I type this (once again) – not to convince the dense shadow – but to remind others that Keith ran the show and took advantage of many people with started taking classes with the best of intentions.

      • That’s how it is with all MLM scams, most paricipants are decent people who are trying to improve their position in life, unaware of crimes that are happening behind the scenes involving the high-level participants.

      • Many people took classes to “better” themselves because they are empty inside. Many, including Mark Vicente, eventually learned NXIVM was seedy, regarding financial crimes, money laundering, tax evasion, lawsuit terrorism, the sexual behaviours, etc. They and he stayed on. Now, he is talking to the investigators/trial, probably in exchange for immunity, like he is clean.

      • ‘most involved with NXIVM thought they were in a self-help organization. far.

        FYI the NXIVM insiders who lived in Clifton Park knew damned well that NXIVM always had a sex trafficking component.
        When it veered into branding and blackmailing women, it went too far.

      • Shadowstate is like a modern Moses…. not the Moses that led the Jews from Egypt…..

        ………but the Moses that came back to find his flock practicing idolatry and put most to death…..

        • Niceguy,
          The Bible is full of stories of people being put to death for various transgressions.

          As for the female leaders of NXIVM they engaged in self-immolation themselves.

          Had they been truly empowered females, they would have walked out on Raniere long ago like Kristen Kreuk did.

  • India looks like a smartassed kid; considering that she’s dumb as a box of cat turds, if she was my kid, I’d knock that smarmy look off her face.

  • Mark Vicente is no HERO.

    For years, he was the Enforcer in NXSCUM and even bragged about it. He derived a substantial portion of his income from filming ridiculous documentaries for Keith (all paid for by the Bronfman sisters).

    He also used his position of authority as head of the Vancouver and LA centers to sleep with the young women who took the courses. That is how he met his wife and was able to get his Green Card.

    South African National Mark Vicente is not the best witness. Maybe he was able to get an immunity deal from the prosecution. Mark Vicente is basically Keith Raniere’s Sammy the Bull. Neck deep and guilty as sin. Tax evasion, taking advantage of students, producing films talking about Keith as a Scientist and a Philosopher. Gimme a break.

    • “He also used his position of authority as head of the Vancouver and LA centers to sleep with the young women who took the courses. That is how he met his wife and was able to get his Green Card.”

      Where is your proof of this-

    • Agreed.

      Looking at his sad blog and social media posts, he presents himself as a naive victim.

      I bet sex was going on all over the place with this cult. BDSM shit, with Society of Proctors and Jness hoes. “Jane” the DOS slave said Kristin Kook was a “sub” and had a “master” – presumably Mark Hildreth. John Tighe mentioned sex on Necker Island.

      • I’d take that bet. There was no sex in the pathetic SOP champagne room. The sex was in Keith’s lair. He is a jealous little sprinting champion, and he doesn’t share his women.

          • Let’s all come clean and admit it. What we really care about here is dirt on who was fucking whom, especially Kristin Kreuk- When, where, how many times and in which orifices-

  • That linked review aptly describes What the #$*! Do We Know!- as not exactly a documentary – and perhaps presaging why its producer would fall for something like NXIVM:

    “Filmed to promote a vague new age philosophy based on a very, very broad interpretation of quantum physics, the movie was funded by J. Z. Knight and heavily features commentary from ‘Ramtha’, an ancient Atlantian general who is apparently speaking through Knight. The movie features other proclaimed scientists who either have unrelated degrees or claim to have been taken out of context.
    It follows a vague documentary format, switching between commentators talking about: the implications of Quantum physics and consciousness altering reality [seemingly in radical and pretty much straight up magical ways]; a deaf photographer with anxiety issues named Amanda, who starts to experience reality through other perspectives while living with her rather out-there sister; as well as some experts in the field going over their experiments and findings.

    It emphasizes different perceptions of reality and how our perception of reality can alter it, claiming that bad things happen to us because we choose to play the victim and Amanda’s anxiety disorder seems magically cured after she finished destroying an image of herself in the mirror and starts thinking positive.”

    Knight’s Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment has set itself up in the rural Pacific Northwest and, like the Rajneeshis as documented recently in “Wild Wild Country,” has been called a cult.

      • Thanks for that.

        The story has shades of NXIVM, and many similar groups and cults with their supposed seers and gurus – and Vicente was probably one of those who once paid large sums to sit credulously before his earlier master:

        “Although she has readily summoned Ramtha on thousands of occasions, before audiences that have paid up to $1,000 per individual, Ms. Knight has vowed that she will not let her spiritual tenant take the witness stand.”

        Channelling is basically an aspect of the same mental phenomenon that at the really psychotic end of the spectrum, causes people to think they are hearing voices, which may even tell them to do things. Mediums may even believe in what they’re doing, but all it really involves is entering a sort of hypnotic state in which all that is being “channeled” are the imagative processes of the mind and the subconscious – the phenomenon has been well studied, and particularly as regards the related phenomenon of supposed past lives, completely debunked.

        The group’s presence is grandiose – come to think of it, I’m surprised Raniere didn’t move into one of the Bronfman’s big places – but it also sounds somewhat similar to the more informal NXIVM community in Clifton Park, including true believer followers who end up living virtually impoverished, and seem to have alternative notions about truth:

        “Many followers, who call themselves “Ramsters,” have moved to Yelm, acting on prophecies from Ms. Knight that the Pacific Northwest is a safe haven from natural disasters, or from space invaders.

        In interviews, they say they are nonplussed by recent revelations.

        “Everything Jeffrey Knight is saying could be true,” said Suzanne Nichols, age 31, who moved to Yelm from Manhattan. A 1983 graduate of Brown University, Ms. Nichols said her desire for spiritual growth led her to J.Z. Knight in 1987. She has since given up any career ambitions to follow Ramtha and lives in a house without electricity or telephone.
        Beyond the nasty personal squabble, the case of Knight vs. Knight has been a window into the practices behind the eight-foot-high walls of the 50-acre ranch where Ms. Knight runs her New Age school, in the town of Yelm, 55 miles south of Seattle. With more than a dozen staff members, a fleet of jeeps and a house that has been compared to a palace, Ms. Knight has built a considerable industry from the guttural voice that emerges from within her. Breathing and Jargon-“

      • Also, I’ve been picking up some disturbing things about Knight and Ramtha in recent years.

        It’s interesting that some of these groups, like NXIVM, attract a demographic that might be thought of as relatively progressive or even liberal, and then take them in directions more associated with right-wing ideology – including, of course, the requisite blaming of outsiders, and conspiracy theorizing.

        Something like the following probably gets explained away by adherents and true believers under the “crazy wisdom” and profane vessel guru rationalizations, the justifications that a leader or teacher needn’t necessarily really be an exceptional human being, or even seem to follow their own supposed transmitted wisdom:

        Ramtha, New Age Cult Leader, Unleashes Drunken, Racist, Homophobic Rants to Large Following

        “here’s no Kool-Aid served, just red wine, bottles and bottles of it. Wine ceremonies, which have been going on at RSE since 1996, are significant because students believe wine grapes were brought to Earth by extraterrestrials 450,000 years ago.

        The blonde on stage is J.Z. (for Judith Zebra) Knight, a 65-year-old former rodeo queen and cable TV saleswoman. The words coming from her mouth aren’t hers, the assembled crowd believes, but rather those of the ethereal being she channels, Ramtha the Enlightened One. Knight goes back and forth between herself and the supposedly channeled Ramtha.

        During the 16 or so hours the students spend in a spiritual drinking game (students must drink every time Ramtha/Knight does), Knight will disparage Catholics, gay people, Mexicans, organic farmers, and Jews.

        “Fuck God’s chosen people! I think they have earned enough cash to have paid their way out of the goddamned gas chambers by now,” she says as members of the audience snicker. There are also titters when she declares Mexicans “breed like rabbits” and are “poison,” that all gay men were once Catholic priests, and that organic farmers have questionable hygiene.”

        • “It’s interesting that some of these groups, like NXIVM, attract a demographic that might be thought of as relatively progressive or even liberal, and then take them in directions more associated with right-wing ideology – including, of course, the requisite blaming of outsiders, and conspiracy theorizing.”

          Don’t be ridiculous. Not wanting mass uncontrolled immigration is not “blaming outsiders”. Name one race on planet Earth more tolerant to outsiders to the point of self destruction then whites. You can’t. Only one race on earth is being shit on and replaced. Ask the Chinese if they want their demographics to change. “Yellow supremacists”-

          And don’t talk shit about “conspiracy theorising”. The weak liberal freaks believe in “transgender” “gender pronouns” “gender pay gap” and all kinds of other bullshit easy to debunk with facts and common sense.

          “Progressive” means being as degenerate and far away from nature as possible.

          And again, name one racial group more ass-kissing then whites.

          • gender wage gap- You say that this is nonsense, something that is fully recognized throughout the world.

          • You stated… “name one racial group more ass-kissing then whites”-

            How about Caucasians-

          • I realize that I was unclear there in my references. I meant the “the requisite blaming of outsiders, and conspiracy theorizing” as a typical dynamic of high control groups or cults – though it also goes on at both extremes of the ideological spectrum, not just the right wing.

        • The ‘channeling’ reminds me of the ‘speaking in tongues’ familiar from several of the more enthusiastic Evangelical sects. Which seems to be accepted by society at large as less than crazy.

          I have never been religious, so I am puzzled, amazed, and fascinated at how common this borderline insanity remains. I cannot fathom how adult people still believe in supernatural beings, angels, demons, space aliens, seers, visionaries, astrology, tea leaf prophesy, crystal power, Zen, Wicca, the Resurrection of Jesus, or any of it. There is a deep irrational strain in humanity.

          • supernatural beings, angels, demons, extraterrestrials, you say that you can not believe in this Actaeon and I understand you but that does not give you the reason by mere logic, “Know that you know what you know and you do not know what you do not know Here is the true knowledge “- Confucius. being “superbatural” this implies that it is something that is by nature or outside of nature when in reality it is only outside our knowledge about nature that is not the same, angels, demons, these are words that are used to designate beings Spirituals that are associated with God or with evil, that is to say, represent evil and good as two forces that oppose each other and about them I refer to the phrase I just mentioned from confucius and about extraterrestrials because the same thing but with the advantage that mathematics, and other sciences, in addition to many evidences that apollaneste issue even though we can not say that everything that is said on the subject is true even if only 10 percent of the evidence and stories are reality is much more valuable than being a stubborn eceptic.

  • So many witnesses for the prosecution, Little Lord Raniere has zero chance of getting out of this.


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.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato


Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com