Former Raniere Lawyer Blasts Marc Agnifilo

Stephen R. Coffey, attorney for NXIVM

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).

Marc Agnifilo [l] and Paul DerOhanessian [r]
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.

MK10ART’s latest, wonderful portrait of your Vanguard.

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.

Barbara Buchey appeared with Megyn Kelly to speak about how wonderful Keith Raniere was when they were together.

“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.

Barbara Bouchey burst into tears when she learned that Keith Raniere was found guilty by a jury on charges of sex trafficking, racketeering, and other felony charges.


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.

Pam Nichols is one of the many attorneys that NXIVM utilized during its aggressive days of suing its enemies into silence about the cult.


NXIVM attorney Mike McDermott did a lot to help the prosecution indict Toni Natalie, Joe O’Hara, and John Tighe. Did he cross ethical lines in doing so? {Photo courtesy Albany Times Union]

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.


Holly Trexler made the most of her time with the Albany County DA’s Office. She got hired as a Special District Attorney to serve Nxivm’s interests and then was later rewarded with a judgeship. 

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.

Two spiritual masters: The Dalai Lama and Master Raniere. Although they teach different philosophies, Master Raniere’s slaves say that his ethical teachings are more important than those of the Dalai Lama.


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”…

About the author

K.R. Claviger


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  • Agnifilo had to make the best out of a bad situation, which he did. His client presented a disgusting, revolting and sordid picture, nicely documented in email, texts and video. MA tried again and again to get the shithead out on bail, and to raise whatever legal arguments he could in defense. His best bet was to challenge whether or not the criminal charges were proven.

    This Steve Coffey is suspect to me, as he seems to have been in on all the earlier legal harassment and false arrests. It does sound like he’s after the ching-ching of leftover Bronfman money. He does not impress me as a crusader for justice.

    Not sure who could have gotten KAR off – not even Mark Geragos.

  • Karma does act upon Coffee with Coffey.

    He had one son pass away by his early 20s and the other (Ian) plays with legos for a living.

    Not to late to change your ways, Steve.

    • If you have additional information concerning Steve Coffey, please contact us via email so that we can determine if some things we’ve been told about him and his family are true. We will keep all such discussions confidential and permanently delete them as soon as we’ve completed them.

  • I thought the whole Nxivm thing was behind me until the day after I spoke with Kathy for the last time. I was sitting in my car under the shade of a tree, listening to a podcast, eating lunch and my phone rang. I usually ignore the phone when I don’t recognize the number but I was waiting for some messages to be returned so I answered. It was the FBI. #NXIVM #NXIVMTrial

  • Coffey is just trying to save face. His firm defended VanFraud and his crew of enabling idiots for years. He has to denigrate the abilities of a lawyer who lost a case for his former client. Coffey simply can’t accept that the case was unwinnable due to the mountain of evidence against a slimy client he he went to bat for for years because it makes him look all the more sleazy. Ironically, so does his current statements.

    • Depending on the timing of the cases, Coffey couldn’t represent Raniere, because he would be disbarred. Raniere doesn’t like Coffey anyway, so it’s a moot point.

  • Frank these bastards need to be next. John Tighe will be out soon. I’m sure he would agree these dirty lawyers need to be brought down for the sake of our criminal justice system. Go get em!

  • I think Coffey knows he’s being investigated. He may be trying to get ahead of his own criminal case and minimize the damage.

    It’s very unusual for one Crim Defense attorney to publicly slam another one that just lost a case.

    AngiSTEALO did the best job with what he had. Raniere was given a robust Defense and his team argued his version of the facts. Raniere’s Constitutional Rights were upheld. If anything, it shows the system really works.

    And Agnifilo tried his best. For Coffey to publicly slam Agnifilo for no reason, doesn’t make sense except that Coffey is scrambling and running for cover.

  • whoa! What did Barb do to her hair!?!? It looks terrible. Did she get it curled just for this occasion (verdict)? Note to Barbara: Honey, you don’t look good in Shirley Temple curls anymore.

    • Barbs hair is naturally curly. The weather the day of the verdict was bad for the hair.
      A lot of people didn’t think think a verdict would come as soon as it did so they didn’t prepare for the day.
      Barbara Bouchey didn’t even make it into the courtroom for the reading of the verdict.

  • Based on the summary about Coffey in this post there is little doubt he’s a lawyer who lacks ethics and will do anything for a buck. However, that does not mean his comments about Agnifilo are not correct. Perhaps, it takes one unethical lawyer to know another?

    Agnifilo was more concerned about his public image than helping his client. Agnfilo made public comments before the trial that indicated he could not win the trial and other comments that implied the source of Reniere’s downfall and guilt. These comments were entirely unprofessional and have yet to be reported by any media source.

    Regarding his post trial behavior, it does not surprise me he would personally try to save face and sacrifice the interests of his client to his own personal interest.

  • Interesting that unlike most former NX “consultants,” O’Connell & Aronowitz have never been forced to refund their Bronfman gains through vexatious litigation or intimidation, etc.

    I remember when Coffey accompanied the Bronfman sisters to a popular Albany radio talk show interview back in 2009 to publicize the Dalai Lama’s Albany visit. The firm was a big sponsor of the radio show and the host referred to Coffey as “the Man.”

    When Sara started to gush “On Air” about Keith’s contribution to HER discovery of His Holiness’ teachings while just “lying in bed one day” — the place where Kristin Kruek and GBD have oft reminded us so much can be accomplished — Coffey and, possibly, Clare hushed her as though Sara was off-script and blew her lines that the visit was supposed to be all Sara’s idea all on her own — not that Keith would ever put any ideas in her or anyone’s head.

    In that interview, Clare opined that the bad publicity about Keith and NX was all due to a “rift” in a local family.

    I’ve often wondered if Clare or whoever gave her that idea wasn’t referring to the huge rift in the Pipino family that occurred over the family land in Clifton Park being bought up — little did we know at the time — by representatives of the Mexican PRI party.

  • Might be Coffey is getting nervous about legal eyes turning towards Albany and those involved with NXIVM shenanigans in that area. Now that the Vanguard has been found guilty, it lends some legitimacy to accusations of corruption in legal and law enforcement entities connected to NXIVM. Perhaps Coffey should stay quiet and lay low?

  • Keith was so pissed at the outcome of the computer trespass case that he fired Coffey’s firm and brought in Paul DerOhannesian to prevent O’Hara and Natalie from getting their computers back.

    Looks to me like Coffey is just pissed that he missed out on a big payday defensing Raniere in the EDNY.

  • If the Feds ever do a thorough investigation of this matter, they’ll find that it was Coffey’s firm that suggested Holly Trexler be the one to take over the bogus prosecution of Joe O’Hara, Toni Natalie, and John Tighe.

  • Coffey, Nichols and McDermott were directed by Raniere and Clare Bronfman to do whatever was necessary to shut down Tighe’s Saratoga In Decline website. And along with Rodger Kirsopp, they did just that. .

  • Coffey himself used to work in the Albany County DA’s office – and is a big supporter of David Soares. No wonder Soares was willing to bring bogus criminal charges against O’Hara, Natalie and Tighe.

  • Many Albany area lawyers have long wondered whether Coffey actually has an undisclosed ownership interest in WGBJ, the Talk 1300 radio station. Why else has the station always been so pro-NXIVM – and why else would it have allowed the Bronfman sisters to spend so much time on air defending Keith Raniere and NXIVM?

    Just one more aspect of this case that really needs an independent investigation.

  • Good points there but it is not wrong for a law firm one week to represent victims and another alleged criminals. In fact it is best when they take on anyone so everyone who needs help gets it.

  • Slimey bastard is trying to ingratiate himself to KAR so he gets hired for appeal and/or NDNY trial. Must mean Coffey is betting there’s more Bronfman money for legal fees available.

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