Moira Penza makes the closing arguments for the prosecution.

Moira Penza Goes for the Big Money and Leaves the EDNY

It didn’t take long for Moira Kim Penza to capitalize on her high profile Nxivm trial victory in the Eastern District of New York this spring.

She has left the DOJ – where she was an assistant US attorney since 2015 – and has now re-entered private practice.

Penza joined the trial “boutique” law firm of Wilkinson Walsh & Eskovitz.

Penza left the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office Tuesday and with the laurels green – after leading the high-profile investigation and prosecution of Keith Alan Raniere and his Nxivm co-defendants – Allison Mack, Nancy and Lauren Salzman, Kathy Russell and Clare Webb Bronfman.

{Her daring indictment and conviction of the wealthy Clare Bronfman are historic – it is rare for a wealthy heiress to ever be prosecuted for financial crimes. It took guts to go after a big fish like that – even if Bronfman got off with a fairly light sentence.]

Penza joined the law firm as a full partner in its New York office. In joining Wilkinson Walsh, founded in 2016, she is reuniting with colleagues she previously worked with at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Penza was a federal prosecutor for four and a half years, in the organized crime and gangs unit.  She has been licensed since 2009.

In leaving the DOJ and government service, Penza will [I estimate] make a likely jump in salary from about $175,000 at the DOJ to – as a partner in Wilkinson Wash – an estimated base salary of around $500,000 – plus partnership distributions at the end of the year.  Our guess is Penza will likely earn about $1 million next year with her new law partnership role.

Formerly obscure, she gained great fame for leading the highly publicized investigation and trial of Keith Alan Raniere and the Nxivm criminal enterprise.

The trial she led was one of the prettiest and neatest little put-aways anybody ever saw.  Limiting her witnesses to about a half dozen female slaves of Raniere – [she had more than 100 on the potential witness list] who she kept on the stand for days each – and a couple of expert witnesses – she buried Raniere so badly that it took the jury less than four hours to convict him on all counts – after a six week trial.

Raniere was convicted on June 19th of racketeering, sex trafficking, identity theft, forced labor conspiracy, and other crimes.

Penza served as the first chair for the government and made the closing argument.

Before joining the US. Attorney’s Office in March 2015, Penza worked for over six years as an associate at Paul Weiss, where she handled products liability, mass tort, securities and other civil and corporate litigation matters, according to Law.com, which broke the story of Penza’s leaving the DOJ.

According to Law.com, “While at Paul Weiss, she worked on high-profile litigation cases with Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh, who ultimately left the New York firm to help form the boutique.

“In an interview, Penza said that after finishing the Raniere trial this year, she felt she had accomplished a meaningful case for the [EDNY] office and ‘it just felt like the right time for me’ to explore career options. I kind of grew up with Beth and Alex and learned to try cases in that environment,’ she said. ‘To have an opportunity to come in as a partner [at Wilkinson Walsh], there is nothing better that I could imagine.’

“Penza said she was also attracted to the boutique ‘having seen firsthand [the founders’] commitment to advancing women,’ and she added that Wilkinson Walsh offered an environment ‘where you can lawyer at the highest levels and be committed to your family.’”

Wilkinson Walsh has about 40 lawyers, including a dozen partners.  According to Law.com, “The boutique has had 15 trials in the past three and a half years, Wilkinson said. ‘We have more work than we can handle,’ she said.”

So farewell, Moira, you did your service to America and to the victims of Nxivm – in handling the Raniere case so adroitly and expertly.

New legal precedent was set in federal sex trafficking and racketeering in the case [for good or ill – we will have to see how it is used or abused in the future]. And certainly, no one can begrudge you a large upward move toward a larger payday.

Best wishes.

About the author

Frank Parlato

Frank Report’s founder and lead writer Frank Parlato is one of the internet’s most decorated investigative journalists. His writing and investigations have helped expose major criminal organizations and scandals.

Frank’s work has been cited in major publications all over the world, including The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Rolling Stone, and more.

He is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Artvoice, The Niagara Falls Reporter, Front Page and the South Buffalo News.

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  • Gotta disagree with Frank’s praise of Penza.

    I thought that the government won its case DESPITE Penza being first chair, not because of it.

    The government had a ‘no lose case’ and I thought that Penza’s extreme streamlining of the case — whittling it down to just a few witnesses — made Keith seem far less guilty than he really was.

    I’m surprised the jury convicted on all counts so quickly since Penza hung her entire case on just a couple witnesses. Keith somehow didn’t seem as evil.

    I thought she was a chickenshit for keeping Mack, Nancy and others off the witness stand.

    Why?

    Cuz the ‘excess baggage’ carried by Mack and other witnesses (i.e., the admission of their own countless bad deeds which would have come out during cross examination) would have cast even MORE negative light on Keith too, since he was the grandmaster of DOS and the de facto leader of ESP and NXIVM.

    Thus, any bad deeds done by those girls is a reflection of the racketeering enterprise and its chief leader.

    Penza was a chickenshit and a coward IMO. She was afraid of her own shadow.

    That’s why she also chickened out and let Clare Bear buy herself a better-than-deserved plea deal.

    Penza was afraid of going to trial with Clare cuz she’s a coward.

    But the reality is that Clare would have been easily convicted at trial.

    Prosecutors need spines and nerves of steel, both of which Penza is sorely lacking.

    BTW: Fuck you all who disagree with me. 🙂

    I really think Penza was an okay prosecutor at best.

    I could have done better myself.

  • Moira Penza, you deserve all good things to happen to you. For those of us who worked with you personally and directly, we experienced the extraordinary brilliance, fortitude, and personal sacrifices you made to “bring Keith Raniere to justice.” The late Sunday night emails following up with us victims and witnesses, the terabytes of discovery you received with barely weeks to process but did so brilliantly anyway, the 80-page response motions from 5 defendants’ 5 attorney teams all at once, nailing the monsters to the cross, and dispelling all their lies. Where would we be if not for you? It is truly extraordinary what you accomplished for us all. With such panache to boot!

    For many of us Ex-NXIVM you will forever be in our thoughts and prayers. Best regards to you!

    Please don’t stay in private practice too long though. We need you back in public service soon. Imagine what you could do for us on Capitol Hill? Please consider it.

    Best to you and your young family!!!

  • Reading between the lines, after six years at NYC “White Shoe” law firm Paul Weiss, Ms. Penza was not elevated to partner. Most associates in that situation will move on.

    I wish Ms. Penza the best of luck in her future endeavors with Wilkinson Walsh.

  • Why the DOJ has allowed Nick Clyne to stay in the United States and not changed her and Allison Mack with their crime of a false marriage to keep Clyne in the US is beyond those of us who have left and know the truth.

    Clyne is clearly working in the background to keep the NXIVM fire burnings and most likely meeting with Clare Bear while CB attorney sits quietly in the room with noise cancelling headphones on.

    Has the DOJ completed their job? Not even close. So they got the smelly guy behind bars. NXIVM is not dead and none of the other ring leaders have been sentenced or have dates to be.

    Now even kne of KAR’s attorney’s wants a job with the DOJ. Can anyone say conflict of interest!

    • Which one of Raniere’s lawyers wants a DOJ job? Lawyers go back and forth all the time, this is why sometimes they have to recuse themselves, even entire law firms decline to take cases based on previous dealings.

  • Frank, Moira not Moria – in the title. LOL

    I have been forever baffled why people like Prince Harry and others on his social level would go for their current choices instead of women like Moira Penza. Simply don’t get it. Their choices simply can’t be compared to Moira’s credentials, no matter the angle taken. Maybe I am just stupid and backward. Who needs authentic education, a girl as presentable as they come, also with her head fully screwed on, when you can have… … …

    • King Durin met his doom in Moria.

      “The world is grey, the mountains old,
      The forge’s fire is ashen-cold;
      No harp is wrung, no hammer falls:
      The darkness dwells in Durin’s halls;
      The shadow lies upon his tomb
      In Moria, in Khazad-dûm.
      But still the sunken stars appear
      In dark and windless Mirrormere;
      There lies his crown in water deep,
      Till Durin wakes again from sleep.”

      – JRR Tolkien, from The Song of Durin.

  • Oh yeah … big victory. None of the defendants have been sentenced yet and no date is in sight. And all those charges that were dropped — or rather “optioned” to the NDNY, yeah, what’s happened to those? Clare gets to hang out in her apartment, logging time against whatever sentence she “may” get and surprise, surprise, in the interim, she gets to meet with a NXIVM coach. Where’s Prefect these days? Not behind bars. Or Pimp Mack — free to go to “church and work” until her rumored sentencing date?The only one in prison is the World’s Smartest Chump, er, man. But Clicky Nine is free, free, free and so are Emi and others. And the general public thinks (if they even remember this case) that everything has been tidied up.

    In the interim, we can be entertained by the soon-to-be-released literary works of those who will give us the “inside scoop” and don’t forget the teevee offerings, just in time for sweeps!

    All that boastful talk about how Penza was going to continue with the NXIVM case as it moved up to the NDNY was just talk. Because that’s what lawyers do. And, as we see, they get paid a lot for doing it.

    • Clare will not get “credit” for any of the time she’s been on “home confinement” against her prison sentence. Raniere is the only one who is earning such “credit” right now.

      • “Clare will not get “credit” for any of the time she’s been on “home confinement” against her prison sentence. Raniere is the only one who is earning such “credit” right now.”

        Wrong…it is at the discretion of the judge to decide whether he considers the home confinement as time in prison or not…

        And seeing his position in 2018 (during summer, around September), he seemed to Believe home confinement is prison

        • While the judge can certainly take any factor into consideration when deciding what a convicted defendant’s prison sentence should be – including, if applicable, that they have been on home confinement – once a prison sentence has been meted out, the defendant will get no credit for any time served on home confinement. So, what I wrote is correct: “Clare will not get any ‘credit’ for any of the time she’s been on ‘home confinement’ against her prison sentence”.

    • I’m not buying anyone’s book who was involved with NXIVM and is now writing one. WTF, they got paid while they were in, took advantage of people and now they want to profit off of doing the right thing after they left? Still the great con artist they were while they were still in.

    • “Or Pimp Mack — free to go to “church and work” until her rumored sentencing date”

      First off, she isn’t a pimp and the charges were dropped…at this level, it’s defamation (and a serious one)

      Second, I see you name a few but ignore those who are the real criminal of the case (because Allison was just a pawn manipulated (and it’s indisputable that she was manipulated and she didn’t have the ability to think properly)…

      Still, I agree that it is hardly a Victory…some of the biggest criminals roam free, some of the others will get small time…
      And seeing how poorly the trial was done, if Raniere gets his appeal, nobody can predict what would happen for the sentencing.

      BUT with a little bit of chance, he will stay in jail and for a long time…

  • I wouldn’t consider as an up step…more like being demoted…
    it wouldn’t surprise me as for me, she was the weak link of the prosecution…Often forgetting who’s trial it was, ignoring some of the facts and avoiding to guarantee a conviction for Raniere…all this probably for her pride.

    If the trial was a success (ish), it is mainly because the jury voted with their heart (Raniere needed to be put in jail for all the things he’s done and could do) and the other prosecutors asked the right questions… they presented the facts and were aiming at Raniere…

    A success for Penza would have brought her (potentially) to become a judge…now that is an up step.

    Sorry, I don’t see it as a positive thing for her career (but I assume that her wallet will do just fine, and it’s probably what matter the most to her)…

      • Adam : While it seems like she was a “lowly assistant”, She was mostly in charge of the case until the DOJ Added extras…

        Some believed it was because the case was huge but the whole pre-trial period showed that it wasn’t the case…
        In the end, I was right to doubt about her and the “lead” was given to more experienced people.

        She made many many many mistakes and several times seemed like purposely blocking information (which is borderline to an extent but then can become a danger for a procedure)

        She kept for WAY too long the info, she made the pre-trial period WAY longer than necessary and the procedure was borderline (or else, Raniere’s lawyer wouldn’t have tried to get some proof rejected…

        She also acted inappropriately (in my opinion) has she made it feel like she had a personal grudge against 1 specific defendant (The judge even told her that she was not authorized to retain info about a postponed hearing as he was requiring a specific defendant to come to the hearing)
        She was supposed to present the facts, to support her allegation (which she didn’t for some defendants) and aim at the right target.
        She didn’t!

        During the trial, when others spoke, it was a real trial and was interesting but when she was leading the “interview”, she was definitely not acting for the good of her case (once again, it’s my opinion).

        Believe me, it’s a step down!
        Especially when you see that Raniere’s attorney is ambitioning to take the place!

        When a lawyer is aiming higher, he/she usually is not aiming at being a lawyer anymore…but a judge or attorney for DOJ.
        There is more power and more potential for an attorney.

    • Still bitter that Penza helped get a special someone exposed and convicted?

      If your Ally had gotten on the stand, put on a show of tears and tugged at heartstrings, resulting in acquittal or a lighter sentence, would you be complaining that wasn’t justice?

      The prosecution had to viscerally lay out the realities of human trafficking, to a non-expert jury. Plus they had to counter the tactics of the defense, attacking the witnesses rather than the evidence – with Raniere sending his post-it directions to emotionally savage the women on the stand.

      • I’ll ignore your usual childish reply (as it would be giving you credit and you are nobody…)

        SHE (Penza) risked a whole case that was FINALLY trialed to put a max on Allison’s head while she had a PLEA DEAL.
        It was done! she pleaded guilty!

        Raniere could have gone free because of her ridiculous actions.
        Penza was a terrible asset to this trial…

        He was convicted thanks to the other prosecutors and the jury.

        Also, you have a problem with the Truth? What I pointed is the Truth. It’s not an up step but an obvious down step…any idiot would see that but you.

About Frank Parlato

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in major publications all over the world, including The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Fox News, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, and more.

Frank Report is dedicated to Frank's investigative journalism and the pursuit of truth.

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