Steve Coffey, erstwhile NXIVM attorney and pontificator extraordinaire, recently blasted Keith Raniere’s lead attorney, Marc Agnifilo, for the job he did in defending the leader of the NXIVM cult – and said he was “very disappointed” in the way that the jury performed in the case.
Coffey was not Asked to be Part of the Defense Team
Coffey, whose law firm, O’Connell & Aronowitz, represented Clare and Sara Bronfman and the NXIVM cult – was not asked to be a part of Raniere’s defense team.
Instead, Raniere relied upon Agnifilo and Albany attorney Paul DerOhannesian II to represent him in the recently concluded trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY).
Raniere was convicted on all seven charges he was facing: Racketeering, Racketeering Conspiracy, Forced Labor Conspiracy, Wire Fraud Conspiracy, Attempted Sex Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, and Sex Trafficking.
That same jury found that the prosecution had also proven that Raniere committed all fourteen of the predicate acts that formed the basis for the Racketeering charge – and that he was aware that “force, fraud or coercion” would be used to cause one or more persons to engage in commercial sex acts.
Raniere, who will be sentenced on September 25th, is facing a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life.
In a story that was first reported by Robert Gavin at the Albany Times Union, Coffey is quoted as saying that Agnifilo’s comments at a post-conviction press conference were “disgusting” and “terrible”.
Coffey is also quoted as saying: “I thought it was embarrassing, that [Agnifilo’s] remarks were embarrassing and I was ashamed that an attorney for any client would stand out after a verdict and put his own self-interests – what he perceives to be his own self-interests – before the client”.
Court Observers Thing Agnifilo did an Above-Average job
Agnifilo – who most court observers thought did an above-average job in trying to overcome an avalanche of evidence against his client – told reporters gathered outside the courthouse that he hoped that the verdict brought peace and closure to Raniere’s victims.
He also said that he thought Raniere was “sorry for the damage he’s caused”.
Coffey Particularly Upset About Agnifilo’s Comments to Bouchey
Coffey was particularly perturbed by Agnifilo’s comments to Barbara Bouchey, one of Raniere’s many girlfriends.
”Congratulations. I hope it helps. I really do”, Agnifilo told Bouchey as he passed by her in the hallway just outside the courtroom.
“You’re gonna speak to Barbara Bouchey? You’re going over to her and say, ‘I hope that you can heal?’ Are you fucking kidding me? Really?”, the always classy Coffey is quoted as saying.
Next, Coffey laid into the twelve jurors who took less than five hours to arrive at a unanimous verdict.
“The jury took five fucking hours! You know what, on a six-week trial, I’ll tell you something – I don’t think that jury was into this case,” Coffey said.
Coffey Wanted Jury to Take More Time Before Convicting Raniere
“And I’m very disappointed in this jury,” Coffey added. “I’m not going to stand here and tell you that I thought the jury did a good job. You know what, I don’t think they did a great job. It’s not a question of respect. I don’t believe it.”
It is believed that Coffey did not personally attend any of the 27 days of the trial.
Yet that didn’t stop him from sharing his numerous insights about Agnifilo and the jury.
Coffey and two of his partners at the O’Connell and Aronowitz firm – Pam Nichols and Michael McDermott – were heavily involved in several of NXIVM’s questionable activities.
This included the attempt to obtain the bank records and other personal information about several local judges in the Northern District of New York (e.g.,, Chief Judge Gary Sharp, retired Magistrate Judge Randolph Treece, Senior Judge Thomas McAvoy, and Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Littlefield, Jr. ) – as well as U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and several of NXIVMN’s enemies including Joe O’Hara and Rick Ross.
Nichols reportedly flew to Canada on several occasions with Clare Bronfman to retrieve the ill-gotten materials.
Coffey, Nichols, and McDermott were also heavily involved in the fraudulent computer trespass charges that Albany County brought against Joe O’Hara, Toni Natalie, and John Tighe.
Bogus Albany County Computer Trespass Case was Triggered by Coffey’s Law Firm
It was McDermott who first called New York State Police Senior Investigator Rodger Kirsopp to tell him that Albany County was going to appoint a Special District Attorney to handle the case
During the course of his “investigation”, Kirsopp met with – or had telephone calls with – Coffey, Nelson, and McDermott more than two dozen times.
Holly Trexler, who previously was supervised by McDermott when both worked in the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, was eventually appointed to prosecute the bogus case against O’Hara, Natalie, and Tighe.
Tighe pleaded guilty as part of a broader plea deal involving child pornography that was allegedly found on his computer. O’Hara and Natalie refused all the plea deals offered by Trexler because they knew that the server which hosted NXIVM’s website was located in Saratoga County – which meant that there was no jurisdictional basis for Albany County to be pursuing charges against them.
After all the charges were dismissed, Trexler was appointed to serve as an Albany City Court Judge.
But in an indication that the residents of Albany County may have some limits in terms of corruption and greed, Trexler was soundly defeated last week in her attempt to become an Albany County Court Judge.
The Names of Coffey and his Law Partners Surfaced in EDNY Investigation
The names of Coffey, Nelson, and McDermott all came up during the course of the EDNY’s investigation into NXIVM’s criminal enterprise.
Whether that will lead to an investigation of their ties to NXIVM and Kirsopp – and their involvement in the attempt to obtain the personal records of federal judges and enemies of NXIVM – remains to be seen.
Questions have also arisen in the past regarding Coffey’s ties to the WGDJ radio station in Albany, NY.
The station previously hosted Clare Bronfman and Sara Bronfman – and given them free rein to defend NXIVM and its leader, Keith Raniere, in anticipation of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Albany, NY.
Coffey himself has been on a bit of a downturn in recent years.
Some of his more notable recent cases include the following:
– Steve Aiello: convicted of conspiracy to commit wire services fraud;
– Warren Powell: convicted of murdering his wife; and
– Robert Madsen: convicted of sexually abusing six Amish boys.
Coffey claimed that the Aiello verdict was “inconsistent with the facts”, that the Powell verdict should have been overturned because of “errors with expert testimony”, and that the victims in the Madsen case were all 17 at the time they engaged in sexual activities with him.
All three defendants are currently in prison serving their sentences.
And in what can only be seen as the ultimate in chutzpah, the O’Connell and Aronowitz firm has recently been making efforts to represent women who have been the victims of sexual assaults in the past but who never had any way to seek compensation for those acts (Under a new law in New York State, such women will now have a one-year window in which to file such claims).
From representing the leaders of a sex slave cult to seeking to represent the victims of sexual assault…
Now that’s truly “disgusting” and “terrible”…