During its 20-year run, the NXIVM crime syndicate employed lots of attorneys as it harassed and tortured individuals who were considered to be “enemies” of the cult.
Some of these attorneys were involved in one or more of the numerous civil lawsuits that NXIVM and/or members of NXIVM initiated in various state courts and federal courts against those “enemies” (This included interventions in the bankruptcy cases of several of the people that NXIVM brought to financial ruin).
Others were involved in convincing local and/or federal prosecutors to bring criminal charges against one or more of those same “enemies”.
Some were – and some still are – involved in both types of nefarious activities.
This is the first in a series of posts that will take a look at some of these attorneys – and what role they played in helping the NXIVM crime syndicate (These posts are being done in random order rather than in order of importance).
Michael P. McDermott
Michael P. McDermott is currently a “shareholder” in the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm (A “shareholder” is the modern equivalent of what used to be referred to as a “partner” in a law firm).
Just prior to joining O&A, McDermott was the Chief Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the Albany County District Attorney.
His boss was none other than the ethics-challenged P. David Soares – who, of course, has his own close ties to the NXIVM cult.
McDermott, a graduate of Albany Law School, had also worked for the Rensselaer County District Attorney and was a partner in the former Albany law firm of Bouck, Holloway, Kiernan, and Casey.
Along with two of the other shareholders at O&A – Stephen R. Coffey and Pamela A. Nichols – McDermott played a key role in getting bogus criminal computer trespass charges brought against three of NXIVM’s biggest enemies: Toni Natalie, Joe O’Hara, and John Tighe.
Indeed, it was McDermott who reached out to David Rossi, his former underling at the Albany County DA’s Office – and convinced him that Albany County should undertake an investigation of Natalie, O’Hara, and Tighe.
Whether McDermott informed Rossi that the Saratoga County District Attorney and the Office of the New York State Attorney General had already decided not to bring such charges is a question that only the two of them can answer.
Whether McDermott also informed Rossi that there was absolutely no jurisdictional basis for Albany County to bring any charges against Natalie, O’Hara and Tighe is another question that only the two of them can answer.
Whether McDermott and Rossi will ever be asked those question is probably up to Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Trowel, the latest addition to the prosecution’s team in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al (Trowel is a member of the EDNY’s Public Integrity Section – which, as its name suggests, focuses on cases involving the corruption of public officials like Soares and Rossi).
Throughout the time that New York State Police Senior Investigator Rodger Kirsopp was conducting his multi-year investigation of Natalie, O’Hara, and Tighe, he met on numerous occasions with, had many phone calls with, and exchanged numerous emails with McDermott (The same is true with respect to Coffey and Nichols).
Were McDermott to become a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation of the NXIVM crime syndicate, it would not be the first time that he was facing serious scrutiny over his involvement in questionable activities.
As was reported by the Times Union back on August 19, 2010, an investigation by New York State’s Inspector General found that McDermott received “preferential treatment” from staff at the Higher Education Service Corporation (HESC) – which is the agency that oversees student loans in New York State.
More specifically, the Inspector General found that HESC staff “…unlawfully arranged special treatment for former Albany County prosecutor Michael P. McDermott by reducing his student loan payments 60 percent, purging his collection debts and blocking the garnishment of his wages, at a cost of more than $24,670 to state and federal taxpayers.”
The report by the Inspector General also noted that “…from 2007 to the present, HESC reduced McDermott’s monthly payments from $1,030 to $400, in direct violation of federal requirements. Later, when McDermott repeatedly failed to pay the $400, HESC canceled his $2,111 in collection fees and continually protected him from having his wages garnished.”
So, let me just summarize what happened here:
• McDermott quit his job at the Albany County DA’s Office – and went to work for a much higher salary at the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm;
• After he started working in his new job with the much higher salary, HESC reduced the monthly payment obligation on his student loans from $1,030/month to $400/month;
• Despite the 60% reduction, McDermott repeatedly failed to meet his monthly payment obligations; and
• HESC canceled the $2,111 of collection fees that McDermott had racked up – and intervened to be sure that his wages from O&A were never garnished.
Yep…It’s easy to see why Raniere felt so good about adding Mike McDermott to his legal team.