By Joseph O’Hara
It’s funny how sometimes two totally unrelated events can appear to be related or even intentionally sequenced.
Such is the case with the attention that is now being focused on the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm – which, up until fairly recently, was heavily involved in defending members of the NXIVM cult and helping to promote the NXIVM criminal enterprise.
On Saturday, July 6th, I wrote to the Third Judicial Department Attorney Grievance Committee to request that they undertake a comprehensive investigation of three prominent members of that law firm: Stephen R. Coffey; Michael P. McDermott; and Pamela A. Nichols.
And today, the Times Union ran a story in which it revealed that the lawyers who were representing NXIVM back in 2014-2015 were aware that their client was trying to obtain the bank records and other personal information of several of the cult’s enemies.
Quoting from the testimony of FBI Special Agent Michael Weniger, the Times Union story made it clear that NXIVM’s lawyers knew that their clients were attempting to obtain such records and information through Canaprobe, a firm based in Canada.
The Times Union article also indicated that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York (NDNY) actually looked into this matter in 2015 – and concluded that “no crimes had been committed in the United States”.
This is, of course, the same NDNY Office that turned its back on almost two decades of illegal activities by the NXIVM crime syndicate.
Local Officials Decline to Comment
If we ever needed hard-core evidence that an outside investigator is needed, just read these two paragraphs from today’s Times Union story:
“The testimony [0f FBI Special Agent Weniger] did not explicitly explain whether the conduct of the Albany lawyers, who were not identified, was ethical or even legal when it came to their alleged knowledge of NXIVM’s efforts to obtain the U.S. banking records.
“Answering that question remains difficult two weeks after the Raniere verdict. The State Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, state Attorney General’s office, State Bar Association, Federal Trade Commission, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation declined to provide an opinion on the matter. Emails to the district attorney offices in Albany and Saratoga counties were not answered”.
Not one public official in the Capital District was willing to state on the record that what Pam Nichols and her O&A colleagues did on behalf of NXIVM is wrong? Would they be willing to speak up if it was their banking records and personal information that was being gathered up by NXIVM and its lackeys?
Even The Times Union Is Reluctant To Name Names
Knowing how litigious NXIVM has always been – and recognizing that the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm still wields a great deal of power and influence in the Capital District – even the Times Union was wary about naming names in today’s story.
What it did do, however, is include a quote from a past filing in another legal matter in which Kristin Keeffe informed Barbara Bouchey that “Pam Nichols and Clare flew to Canada on more than one occasion to try to, you know, vet the information…”.
That “information” includes the bank records and other personal data that NXIVM was trying to obtain through Canaprobe – and clearly indicates that Pamela A. Nichols was fully involved in NXIVM’s attempts to get those records and data.
We Need A Special Counsel Appointed
No law enforcement agency in the Capital District can be entrusted with the task of investigating NXIVM’s untoward influence in the area – and what it did to gain that influence.
That’s because too many of them are part of the problem.
Last month I requested that the U.S. Attorney General, William P. Barr, appoint a Special Counsel to investigate NXIVM’s criminal activities in the NDNY.
In that same letter, I asked that the Special Counsel also investigate all the non-members of NXIVM – i.e., the lawyers, law enforcement officials, and public officials – who have aided and abetted NXIVM’s criminal operations.
I have not yet received any response from the Attorney General.
I remain convinced, however, that if we’re ever going to find out how NXIVM managed to operate with impunity in the Capital District for almost 20 years, it’s going to take someone from outside the area to head up the investigation.
Write To The U.S. Attorney General
Anyone who wishes to support my request for the appointment of a Special Counsel can write to the U.S. Attorney General at the following address:
Hon. William P. Barr
U.S. Attorney General
950 Pennsylvania Avenue – Suite 7141
Washington, DC 20530