Free Online Lecture by Moira Penza – October 25 – On Prosecuting NXIVM Criminals

Moira Kim Penza

Moira Kim Penza will lecture on the NXIVM case at Binghamton University from 5- to 6:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 25. 

The lecture is entitled “Takedown: Dismantling the NXIVM ‘Sex Cult.’”

Penza was the assistant US attorney who led the prosecution of Keith Alan Raniere in 2019.

The University says “she will give the audience a behind-the-scenes look at the government’s prosecution of Raniere and his inner circle.”

Her lecture will be the university’s annual Bonzani Memorial Law Lecture and will be delivered in the Innovative Technologies Complex Symposium hall. 

She is an alumna of Binghamton and graduated from the University’s Harpur College of Arts and Sciences in 2005. 

For those who cannot attend in person, the lecture will be available online via ZOOM.

To register, click here. The lecture is free.

Here is how the university publication, BingUNews reports the lecture. 

On Oct. 17, 2017, then-federal prosecutor Moira Penza ’05 settled in for a daily ritual: reading The New York Times. The cover story gave her pause.

“It was about a secretive group in Upstate New York where women were being branded,” she remembered. “Unbeknownst to them, the branding was the initials of a man named Keith Raniere, who was the head of this organization called NXIVM.”

Only a year and a half into her federal post, Penza saw evidence of potential federal crimes, including fraud and extortion. She spent the rest of her day seeing what she could find about the “self-help” group NXIVM — pronounced “Nexium” — before going to a trusted supervisor who specialized in victim-centered cases and then launching an investigation.

With the aid of the FBI, Penza conducted interviews with multiple victims and learned about additional crimes, including sexual abuse. After a 6½ week trial, which Penza led, Raniere was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 120 years in prison on charges that included racketeering and sex trafficking….

Keith Raniere

“My biggest fear was, until we arrested him, that there were women and children in danger,” she reflected. “To know that he is in prison for the rest of his life is very satisfying, because I know that he is unable to hurt anyone else ever again.”

Penza started her law career at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she handled product liability, mass tort, securities and other complex litigation matters. As an assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, she led numerous criminal investigations and prosecutions involving both white-collar and violent crime. Her work in the NXIVM case has been credited with paving the way for other sex-trafficking prosecutions against powerful individuals.

The lifelong New Yorker is currently a partner at Wilkinson Stekloff LLP, and has been trial counsel on some of the firm’s most high-profile cases, including representing Altria Group, Inc. in a recent administrative trial related to the Federal Trade Commission’s challenge of Altria’s minority investment in JUUL; the claims against Altria were dismissed in their entirety.

The Harpur College alumna has been widely recognized for her work, and her legal commentary has been featured by many outlets, including The New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg, the BBC, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Reuters and others.

A head start at Binghamton

Penza didn’t gain her initial appreciation from the law from family connections; her mother is a retired public schoolteacher and her father owns a New York City dive bar. Rather, she was fascinated by courtroom scenes in film and on television. By the time she headed to Binghamton, she knew she wanted to become a lawyer.

“I think sometimes people do go into law thinking that it’s going to be like that, and most of the time, of course, it’s not. But I actually ended up having a lot more experiences that are like those on TV than many other lawyers,” she said.

A dual major in English and history, the Queens native graduated from Binghamton University in three years and then transferred to law school at Cornell. At Harpur College, she received a “top-notch, well-rounded liberal arts education” that prepared her well for law school and beyond, she said.

During her time there, Penza served on the University’s judicial board as well as High Hopes, then a student-run counseling hotline. She also formed lifelong friendships that continue to enrich her life, starting in her first year when she lived in a triple in Champlain.

Among her greatest supporters were her friends, who gave her a briefcase as a parting gift, she remembered. She stayed in close touch after graduation, coming back to visit Binghamton periodically during breaks from law school.

Binghamton also gave her an opportunity that proved foundational to her future career: a year-long internship at the Broome County Public Defender’s Office, where she aided the chief investigator and attorneys with intake interviews of those who had been arrested. Her only experience working on the defense side in criminal cases, that internship taught her how to ask the right questions and interact with vulnerable people, skills that proved useful during her later career in criminal law.

She also had the chance to watch trials, which solidified her career choice — on the other side of the courtroom.

Moira Penza and Tanya Hajjar at a press conference announcing Raniere’s conviction.

“Prosecutors have an enormous amount of power within the system. They get to act affirmatively in many situations, as opposed to reactively, which is what you’re often doing if you’re a public defender,” she explained. “I realized that at some point in my career, I wanted to have the ability to build my own cases.”

That includes the difficult choice of who to prosecute — or not. She recommended that charges be dismissed in some cases, including her very first in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The ultimate point is: Are you doing justice?” she reflected. “Having spent that year at the public defender’s office when I was at Binghamton became important once I was a prosecutor. It was something I never forgot.”

Law lessons

The liberal arts exposes students to a wide range of disciplines and challenges; so, too, does being a trial attorney. Through the years, Penza’s cases led her to learn about topics as varied as concussions in sports, corporate structure, the technology behind e-cigarettes and hormone therapy, to name a few.

“My favorite thing is to be in front of a jury and synthesizing a complex case — being respectful of them and maintaining your credibility first and foremost, and being able to tell a compelling narrative,” she said.

Penza hopes her talk will inspire Binghamton students to act courageously when they can mitigate injustice and suffering, just as she was when she first learned about the now-infamous “sex cult.”

Moira Penza appears in HBO’s The Vow, Season #2.

She also urged individuals to be wary of situations in which they feel they cannot speak up, and in which only a single viewpoint is considered tolerable. Such situations pave the way for exploitative groups such as NXIVM, that sanction abuse and maltreatment.

“That is a situation in which you can have exploitation of people — when people feel they are going to be ostracized if they do not say what everyone else is saying,” she said. “There’s a lot of danger in these situations.”

Posted in: Harpur

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  • There are also free online lectures on Frank Report daily from Kevin.

    And dick pick memories Kevin’s been reliving for the past decade.

    Frank, how about a DOS manual lesson? We’ve earned it lately…

    Please. And thank you.

  • Penza is a success story. Her concern for justice combined with a logic driven, skillful dedication to the law has made her an inspiration.

    Sharp minds succeed. Reason and careful attention to detail, to the facts, has led Penza to the top of her field. Her success as well as her sense of justice are to be applauded.

    Contrast her with the basement dwellers who defend Raniere. The conspiracy theorists who, motivated by cynicism and their crabbed, paranoid view of the world, construct fantasies of some obscure “They” who are out to get us all. Pathetic.

    In their myopia, they think a sex-trafficking cult led by a lifelong con man is an “alternate way of thinking”.

    Law is based on facts and reason. The law works. The conviction of Raniere proves this and the case built by Penza is a shining example of the law triumphant.

  • Moira should be thankful she got away with blatant violations of protocol and shut her mouth about nxivm.

    Quit while you’re ahead Moira.

    • I’m sure Penza is shaking in her high heels, or waking up in the middle of the night from all of the nightmares she must be having of Raniere winning his appeal because of all of the past litigation he’s won over the years.

      Is there a more dumbest “smartest “, more unethical “most ethical”, more unsuccessful “successful” man in the world than him?

  • Did her team plant evidence in the case?

    If yes, why would they need to if the guy has a body count dating back to when before she was born? Why would they need to make something up if more than enough real evidence existed?

    If yes, how many others are there? How many cases did this woman win, or her team or her department, or the FBI itself, win on the basis of false evidence?

    Imagine if the guy gets out because she took a short cut.

    Why was she horsing around with two major players in this horrendous, sadistic pyramid scheme sex cult and appearing on their podcast? Why didn’t she prosecute them for participating in and profiting from an illegal pyramid scheme? Because she and Sarah are demographically the same, and share the same values?

    How did she define what constitutes a member of Raniere’s inner circle? If Vicente and Edmondson don’t meet that standard, who the hell does? Vicente was the guy’s best friend, but not in the inner circle?

    How did she distinguish a victim from a victimizer? India went from being co-conspirator #2 to winning a $300K payout, despite no new information coming to light in between that period of time. The women under India received much less. Why the inconsistencies and disparities?

    Will other organizations that have the same business practices and pyramid structure, where there is coercion and manipulation involved, will they be prosecuted with the same vigor? Or does that depend on the politics, associations, and social clout of the people involved?

    Why didn’t her associates in Albany ever do anything about the guy? Why was he allowed to be operating a business with a pyramid structure five years after making a deal where he couldn’t own a business with a pyramid structure?

    What does she think of Kristin Gillibrand? You know, the US Senator from New York State whose dad used to be Raniere’s lobbyist? Or is that off the table for discussion, since the good Senator has the right politics and runs in the same social circles as Ms. Penza?

    So the FBI picks cases based on what the New York Times tells them is worthy of their attention? So if you’re an enemy of the NYT, the FBI will go after you. If you’re a friend, the FBI will defend you. And if you’re a teenage girl who got tricked by an older con, well, sorry kid, you’re on your own. When you get to be as popular as Sarah and have connections with the Times, then we’ll talk. Until then, keep your bedroom window locked, because Moira Penza has better things to do than look into decades old complaints involving your abuser.

    But if Sarah gets a brand, well, stop everything, now it goes to the top of the priority list. Wasn’t she in “A Munster’s Christmas,” or something like that?

    She’s literally telling you that if you aren’t important enough to be in the NYT, that if you don’t run in the right social circles, then you’re not important to her. What a pompous, spoiled, narcissistic little snot she is.

    Does HBO understand that none of these people are likable in any way? She’s probably one of those who thinks you’re a terrorist or extremist if you didn’t vote exactly the way she did in every election since she was eligible to vote. And if you practice your religion and attend services, my goodness, you might just be near the top of the list.

      • Camilla was a Mexican child in the United States illegally.

        She was sexually exploited and used in pornography as a minor child.

        Daniela was in a room for almost 2 years and had her immigration papers withheld. She was exploited.

        Moira prosecuted the crimes against them as well.

        These two Mexican women who were isolated, abused and exploited because of their mmigration status are not similar “demographically” to Moira

        So your argument is a complete fallacy and total b*******.

        Moira helped prosecute crimes against some of the most vulnerable in our society.

        Children and those who are here illegally and subject to work, sexual and other exploitation and abuses.

        Kevin’s hyper fixation and hatred of Sarah leave him blind to the bigger picture.

        Moira is a hero.

    • Hey Kevin-

      Shouldn’t you be busy writing penpal letters to Allison Mack which won’t be replied to?

      Hope all is well you goofball!

    • Kevin can’t remember when he saw a movie, graduated high school or started his job but Kevin can remember every single dick pic he has ever seen and describe them in extremely excruciating detail going on two decades later.

      Why did Warner Brothers have teenage employees looking at dick pics?

  • Wouldn’t a retrial of Raniere have to imply that the entire trial would be retried and Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman, and Lauren and Nancy Salzman would be on trial again as co-defendants and everything would be at stake for them again? Then could things end worse for everyone than before? Or would there be a new trial only for Raniere?

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.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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,_Jr.

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