Interview: Buying Custody of Children in CT Family Court

Michael Volpe interviewed me on Monday about CT Family Court; about the case of Karen Riordan, the homeless mother whose husband stole her inheritance and used it to buy custody of their children at the CT Family Court marketplace; the story of Kelly Grohs, whose children were sold by lawyers at the same, detestable market to the wealthy widow of her husband; and the notorious Keith Raniere of NXIVM fame and his, what some say, quixotic attempt at getting freedom by accusing the FBI of tampering with evidence in his case.

But mainly, it was about the practice of the CT Family Court of literally selling children to affluent fathers.

Karen Riordan and Chris Ambrose. He took the money and bought the children from the CT Family Court Market.

Michael Volpe is a freelance investigative journalist with notable successes. Among them is his 2016 investigation of Memphis lawyer Keith Dobbs which led to a 67 count indictment. His hard-hitting articles freed a 37-year-old former Army Ranger from a corrupt guardianship. His book, “Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall,” conclusively showed that prosecutors framed former Chicago Heights Mayor Chuck Panci and two of his associates.

Here is an edited and truncated version of our interview.

Listen to the unedited podcast.

Michael Volpe

Volpe: Independent investigative journalist Frank Parlato joins me as the latest guest on my podcast. Recently, Frank has dedicated a lot of time on his website to the Connecticut Family Court system, but he is also widely credited with breaking the NXIVM story and being instrumental in helping to put its leader, Keith Raniere, in prison.

Frank, you told me that an interesting development, in that case, is that the defense is preparing to accuse, in a court filing, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of tampering with evidence.

Frank Parlato

Parlato: Yes. Keith Raniere alleges that the FBI tampered with the evidence used to convict him. It promises to be interesting. There are many people who are dismissing it as the desperate attempt of a person who had just been sentenced to 120 years in prison, but what’s significant about it is his lawyers and his friends have developed an impressive array of technical evidence, computer-based evidence, that purports to show that the FBI may have changed the dates of some photographs and possibly moved some photographs to a device that they seized which was the foundation of the most important charge.

Volpe: More recently, you have done about 20 stories on the divorce of Chris Ambrose and Karen Riordan. I recently had Karen as a guest on a podcast. Even though Karen was the primary caretaker, while her ex-husband, Chris Ambrose, was mostly living a separate life apart from her and the children, about two years ago, a Connecticut judge ordered Chris to have sole custody, and it’s been almost two years since Karen has seen her three children.

Her husband was a screenwriter who got caught plagiarizing, which destroyed his career. And that was what immediately preceded the divorce. Is that right?

Parlato: It preceded the divorce by about a year. Chris Ambrose was a successful television writer. He made a very good living as a creative storyteller. He knows how to tell a yarn. Educated as a lawyer, he got hired in one law show after another. Ironically, his first TV show was Family Court, about manipulative players in the family court system. He went to Harry’s Law, Judging Amy, Bones, NCIS New Orleans, Law and Order.  This man was steeped in the law and the tricks of law and writing stories about it.

In 2018, Ambrose worked on a show called Instinct. He got caught stealing/plagiarizing from an earlier show called Bones. He took someone else’s work and put it into a show, put his name on it, and collected money for it.

Volpe: His career is over at that point. Right? It’s hard to recover from that.

Parlato: Right.

Volpe: While he was in Hollywood, he lived away from his wife. And there are three adopted kids.

Parlato: That’s correct.

Volpe: So that sets the stage for the divorce. He’s an absentee dad who tries to come back into the picture and then blames everyone but himself because his kids don’t want to have that relationship with him. Right?

Parlato: I think it runs deeper than that. He and his wife had maybe two or $3 million in marital assets that they accumulated during their marriage and would be, by law, joint owners of these assets. Karen was a stay-at-home mother. She devoted 13 years of her life raising three adopted children, which was their arrangement. I’m told that Ambrose did not want her to work. He wanted her to be a stay-at-home mother. So she stayed at home in Connecticut, where the divorce and custody case is. And he was mainly in Los Angeles and sometimes in New York City; sometimes he’d pop home for a while.

I believe the reason he is fighting for the custody of the kids has less to do with wanting to be with the kids – love the children or raise them. I think it has more to do with his confiscating all the marital assets not having to pay alimony or child support.

Volpe: Frank has also done an in-depth article on the case of Kelly Smith-Grohs, another remarkable Connecticut story in which a biological mom has lost custody to a step-mother. In this case, Kelly’s ex-husband Bill died, but his widow maneuvered the courts in her favor.

Parlato: It’s hard to imagine a world where humans live where the mother would not get her children, and instead of a gold-digging, Jane-come-lately wife, who married him on his deathbed, and changed the will to get his millions into her control, would get custody over the mother, who was never proven to be unfit, incompetent or abusive in any way.

Kelly Smith Grohs raised the kids, the same story. Father used his money to get custody. He gets brain cancer. And naturally, the Merry Widow, who barely knew these kids, had the will changed so that she was a trustee of their father’s trust fund for the children. And the money-driven CT Family Court arranged that the mother would not be permitted to see her children. And the widow who married him about a month before he died gets full custody and complete control of the children and their millions.

Volpe: It’s noteworthy that both Kelly Grohs and Karen Riordan were accused of parental alienation.

Parlato: It’s the weapon of choice.

Volpe: The misuse of parental alienation in Connecticut has been well documented, starting with the book by Keith Harmon Snow, “In the Worst Interest of the Child.”

One key player in Karen’s case, Jessica Biren Caverly, [the custody evaluator], promotes on her website that she is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). The AFCC is known for propagating the misuse of parental alienation, particularly to change custody from the fit protective mother to the abusive father. It seems like this scheme continues to thrive in Connecticut and beyond.

Parlato:  I believe that it rises to the level of a criminal conspiracy. Lawyers for the parties, the guardians ad litem, and the custody evaluators conspire to throw custody to affluent fathers and take children away from their mothers.

And by taking away, I don’t mean giving primary custody to the father. They devise schemes to prohibit contact between the children and the mother unless she submits to some extraordinary protocols, and what I believe will ultimately be proven illegal.

Volpe:  I hear from litigants, victims, survivors, whatever you want to call them, all the time. How do you think people should go about trying to get more media interested in this?

Parlato: The things that I’ve seen in case after case is that the victims, the mothers, the children are victims, and the mothers are the ones who are crying out for help. It’s very difficult to tell the story succinctly when you’re hurt, and you’ve had the most important thing in your life ripped away from you – your children. And what we see, in case after case, these women who lost her kids, call on the phone, and they’ll talk for hours about what happened and all the injustice that occurred. You know, to me, it has to be boiled down. It has to be real –.

Volpe: Yeah, yeah. Elevator Pitch.

Parlato: The people who are victimized, if you can boil it down —

Volpe: I totally agree with that. That is part of the problem because people dump, like 100 documents, not necessarily100, more like they dump a whole bunch of stuff. And they say, “if you go through all of this, you’ll see how corrupt it is.” Come on. Nobody’s going to read 100 pages because you say there’s a lot of corruption there.

Parlato: You got to be able to boil it down. I think, slowly, we have to have people who can tell the story. Explain it. And then I think we’ll put an end to this horrifying system of buying custody of children.

Volpe: Are you hopeful that this story will soon break through to the mainstream media and this use of the family court to traffic children will end?

Parlato: When I first started reporting on NXIVM, I was reporting that there was a guy in upstate New York who was branding women as slaves, and I wrote about it, and I wrote about it like you write about things, and no one picked it up. Some of the mainstream media read it and they said, ‘That’s hard to believe. That’s impossible to believe. Someone would have shut them down if he was really doing it.’

Then, four months later, after I began writing about this daily, the New York Times picked up the story, quoted me- gave me credit for breaking the story- and a couple of weeks later, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York began an investigation. A few months later, the man was in custody. I think that will happen here.

The system in place in Connecticut Family Court that is supposed to protect children is run by a rapacious, dishonest group of swindlers who are devouring families’ net worth and robbing children, selling custody for money. I know it sounds outrageous; it sounds hyperbolic. But I think the evidence will show, for anyone who cares, the family court system in Connecticut, and I daresay it exists elsewhere in this country, is corrupt.

I believe ultimately, mainstream media will pick it up. Then it’ll attract the attention of authorities and people like Jessica Biren-Caverly, Nancy Aldrich, Jessica Hurwitz, Jane Grossman, Candace Fay, Jill Planchard, Mary Piscitelli Brigham, Janis Laliberte, Sue Cousineau, et al., this rapacious group may find themselves devoid of their vicious living, and possibly indicted.

Den of Thieves

We must make a whip of cords and drive them out of the courthouse…

Judge Donna Heller

Joette Katz

Jocelyn Hurwitz

Sue Cousineau

Nancy Aldrich
Judge Jane Grossman

Jessic Biren-Caverly

Candace Fay

Mary Piscitelli Brigham.

Janis Laliberte

Maria McKeon

Judge Elizabeth Stewart

Lisa Knopf

Jill Plancher

Judge Gerard Adelman

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Mr. Frank ,

    I had to look up judge Anna Ficeto because she is the one handling my family court case.

    She gave a ruling today which is biased and then I started researching her and CT court.

    I can’t believe what I have found.

    If you look up Kelly Grohs’ case on the CT court case lookup, you will see that every motion and request for an order filed by the defendant (Kelly Grohs) is denied by judge Ficeto.
    But every motion filed by the plaintiff is accepted.

    There are some deep levels of corruption and evil going on here.



    No family court case should go on for years. This is destroying families and children!

  • Chris Ambrose is a fraudulent, sociopathic scum. There is sworn testimony that he has sexually abused his children…yet the courts dismissed that as “coaching” and deferred to the slimeball GAL Jocelyn Hurwitz

  • Stop thinking that reporting on the child trafficking, corruption, and civil rights deprivations by Connecticut Family Court, DCF, legislators, and its own criminal justice system is going to be arrested by any federal action.

    The U.S. Department of Justice acting through D. Connecticut office will not interfere in what the state deems to be in the best interest of the children.

    The sovereign people of the state elect their leaders who do what they do in family court. The conduct of these judges is obviously the will of the people of the state.

    • Your argument doesn’t make sense, ‘Leonard’. I doubt the fine folks of CT would co-sign co-assets being ferreted off to this gaggle of criminals and God knows where else by this errant, shameful, plagiarist lettuce barber. Your entire argument is as antiquated and nonsensical as you using Leonard as your pseudonym.

      • In the construction of the Union, the states are sovereign kingdoms where the federal government has limited authority. Connecticut runs its family court under the control of the legislature, made up of elected representatives of the people. The federal government is powerless to stop the abuses in family court if this is the will of the people of the state. If the people of Connecticut created this court, it is not of federal cause to change it. People of Connecticut made their bed, no sleep in it.

        • The thing about beds is they are made and remade on a daily basis, changed once a week, new linen every year?

          If you are NOT doing these things, WHAT exactly are you lying in? More of a pit or a mausoleum.

          The people of Connecticut can make and remake their bed as much as they wish — lie down with the unchanging dead if you must. No one has to accept your unsanitary fatalism.

  • Why not buy children?

    In America billionaire foreign newspaper owners can buy the US Presidency.

    The NYT Now Admits the Biden Laptop — Falsely Called “Russian Disinformation” — is Authentic
    The media outlets which spread this lie from ex-CIA officials never retracted their pre-election falsehoods, ones used by Big Tech to censor reporting on the front-runner.

    Glenn Greenwald
    One of the most successful disinformation campaigns in modern American electoral history occurred in the weeks prior to the 2020 presidential election. On October 14, 2020 — less than three weeks before Americans were set to vote — the nation’s oldest newspaper, The New York Post, began publishing a series of reports about the business dealings of the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in countries in which Biden, as Vice President, wielded considerable influence (including Ukraine and China) and would again if elected president.

    The backlash against this reporting was immediate and intense, leading to suppression of the story by U.S. corporate media outlets and censorship of the story by leading Silicon Valley monopolies. The disinformation campaign against this reporting was led by the CIA’s all-but-official spokesperson Natasha Bertrand (then of Politico, now with CNN), whose article on October 19 appeared under this headline: “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.”

    Who owns the New York Times?
    Carlos Slim, a Mexican multi-billionaire and friend of Bill Clinton.

    It appears that the New York Times, which helped elect Biden by covering up stories of his corruption, is now throwing Biden under the bus to replace him with a more electable and less senile political hack.

    • —Why not buy children?

      Shadow children are sold every day in the United States and even imported all for money and profit. Google it!

      Where have you been?

    • um…lunatic? this has nothing to do with anything. Trump lost. the election is over. and you are wholly off topic.

  • What’s an Alfredo N? Many hundreds of thousands of moms and children have been victimized since 1993, accelerated in 2004, warp speed in 2010 – with no signs of stopping. My children, whom I haven’t hugged in ten years, were taken absent state interest, absent any neglect or abuse allegations, absent any finding in a change of circumstances. And through that time, I worked in the capacity of caring for children in state custody!

    Our story has been written about by Volpe, in Keith Harmon Snows book, and several other publications. We had Adelman, AFCC Munro, AFCC Hurwitz (indirectly), Mary Brigham extensively (Grohs’s files where put into my constantly tampered with file and this is how I found her), Rosemary Guiliano Grohs and my ex used her as an attorney and he never paid a dime (AFCC firm). In incompetent but for enriching their wallets shrinks who engaged in insurance fraud: Howard Krieger and Sidney Horowitz, Laura Arnhardt, AFCC, Grohs case too, Judges in both Grohs’ and my case: Mary Louise Schofield, Robert Resha, Elizabeth Buzutto, Maureen Murphy, Ann Fecito, Lloyd Cutsumpas, extensively, Connecticut judicial branch has a media committee that ensures local news outlets do not publish anything in depth if at all about this Holocaust and genocide.

    The AG Tong was co-chair of the judicial committee prior to his stint as AG, his other co-chair was rewarded to with a judgeship- in fact Eric Coleman ruled in Kelly Grohs’ case not too long ago. They know about this- the legislature knows about this- no one stops it. It’s worth too much money for all of the court whores, it’s worth too much to the state of Connecticut in federal funding- top 5 in County.

    This is also a tax player claim, a sex discrimination claim, (this happens to men too, to a lesser degree and different MO) but all of these CT moms whose kids are deprived their mother, and moms stripped of all assets, homes, careers devastated- I had to go to court 66 times in one year on No motion I filed. How can I do a good job if I am required to be in court? How are my grievances redressed by a court that doesn’t hear my motions when court is supposed to be available “without sale or delay?” How were my children trafficked to another state with Brigham, Guliano, Fecito, Murphy, and Schofield refusing to have a required hearing needed to relocate out of state? Why did they not even tell me where my kids were- were I have to FOIA states to see where my ex applied for a license? So many more terrible things that I cannot talk about. Thank you for helping expose this horror. Thank you for helping the possibility of it slowing down.

  • The Connecticut Judicial Branch is run by Chief Justice Richard Robinson, who obviously condones the behavior of family court. Perhaps you can reach out to Robinson for an interview on why his court inflicts so much pain and suffering.

  • Den of Thieves is perfect. Indeed they are thieves and child abusers. With Volpe and Parlato uniting to expose CT, their days will be numbered- these actors are pure evil and they are as as guilty as the parental abuser who inflicts pain and suffering onto his own children by annihilating (usually) the mother they love.

    These abusive parents and the system are the true “alienators.” It’s a playbook, a formula used to isolate children and erase the world they knew and loved.

    To the den of thieves- they’re coming for you. The assistant AG can’t appear to protect the judiciary- not in the public arena.

  • It’s absolutely heart-wrenching the damage that these horrible people do! These moms are NOT alone. There’s many more of us ripped away from our children. We’re working together to bring change and protect our rights.

  • Frank, this is one of the most interesting articles I’ve ever seen you write, though We have had our disagreements and a lot of issues , I’d like to get in touch over this issue please

  • Hey Ginzo the dumbass alfredo nigger!

    What part of “Do not post this shit anymore” that was commanded by you from Patriot God did you not understand?!


    This time is now! for you to stop that shit and get back your lane posting NXIVM shit were you belong and STAY THERE!!!!!!!

    You understand that now, nigger?!

    Get moving back to and get back you own land and stay there!


    Move it!

    On the double, man!


    • This is an example of a rather extreme kind of troll. Trolls come in all varieties. I publish this here just for the edification of readers that might be new to this site. We will be taking on the injustices of CT Family Court and be extension other family courts and looking for redress and solutions individually for those suffering and for the system in general. Cranks and the mentally ill will from time to time come on. I won’t publish every commenter who calls me, for instance, an Alfredo Nigger, but this one is merely for an example.

    • Colonel James Ludlow-

      You are being disrespectful to Frank!

      Do 100 push-ups!

      Don’t be a pansy soldiers!

  • I want to buy the custody of my children. Which attorney would you recommend and could you give an estimate of how much it will cost. My wife is a cunt.

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083