NEW YORK—After former NXIVM President Nancy Salzman was arrested in 2018, federal agents acting on a search warrant uncovered a plastic box in her basement filled with financial documents allegedly concerning the “enemies” of the organization. The box of documents, prosecutors argued on May 14, should be shown to the jury.
The debate came after Judge Nicholas Garaufis, on the morning of May 14, adjourned the ongoing trial until May 15 because a juror was ill and couldn’t make it to court. Former NXIVM member Mark Vicente, the second witness in the trial, has not yet been cross-examined by the defense. Vicente once served on the group’s executive board.
After jurors left the room located at the federal court in Brooklyn, Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza told Garaufis the prosecution wants to introduce the evidence she says demonstrates “a covert mission to gather financial information on NXIVM enemies.” She described the box as a “financial dossier” on enemies, including numerous reporters, federal judges, politicians, political operatives, and NXIVM’s own lawyers.
Penza said the prosecution hopes to introduce the box of evidence in the upcoming testimony of a federal agent, the third witness to testify in the trial of Keith Raniere, the founder and “grandmaster” of the purported self-help organization. Raniere sat at the top of every pyramid scheme under the expansive umbrella organization and is also accused of having sexual “slaves” as part of an internal secret society called DOS.
The box of financial documents additionally included alleged bank account details of the enemies of NXIVM and about a half million dollars worth of cash. Penza told the judge that she also wanted to add chains of emails from two women in NXIVM.
Vicente previously testified that NXIVM often filed lawsuits against enemies of the organization, including former members who spoke out against them. He said Clare Bronfman, an heiress of the Seagram beverage company and an “acting CFO” of sorts in NXIVM, headed such lawsuits. Vicente told the court during testimony on May 13 that he himself “was afraid of being sued by NXIVM.”
But Marc Agnifilo, Raniere’s lead attorney, objected to the prosecution’s request, calling all the documents “hearsay.” Agnifilo told the judge that the documents were created by Kristin Keeffe, a former member of NXIVM, and claimed it had nothing to do with Raniere. Agnifilo also claimed that Penza wanted to introduce the “dump truck” of evidence because the prosecution didn’t want Keeffe to testify as a witness.
“This is not the kind of evidence that you can dump in front of the jury,” Agnifilo told the judge.
Agnifilo said that the bank records in question were fake and all stemmed from an investigative company called CanaProbe.
In response, Penza called Agnifilo’s arguments “completely irrelevant.” She said the information, whether real or fake, show the strategies used within NXIVM against its enemies.
“Mr. Agnifilo is the one afraid of Kristin Keeffe, because the defendant tortured her,” Penza said. “That’s why he hasn’t spoken to her.”
The other five co-defendants in the U.S. vs. Raniere et al. case, which includes Nancy Salzman, have all pleaded guilty; some pleas came after prosecutors added child exploitation charges against Raniere based on evidence he had sex with a 15-year-old girl.