Mr. Raniere has been lampooned in Forbes. The concept is right but the gender is wrong. Most of Mr. Ranier's slaves are female.
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Stephen E. Herbits – Edgar Bronfman’s Confidant – on the Witness Stand

Earlier today, Marc Agnifilo finished cross-examining Mark Vicente, the prosecution had an opportunity to ask some follow-up questions, and Agnifilo got to ask his final questions – thus ending Vicente’s time on the witness stand.

Mark Vicente

Next up on the witness stand is Stephen E. Herbits – a name that may not be familiar to many Frank Report readers.

Herbits, who is now 77, served for many years as a close confidant to Edgar Bronfman, Sr. – and as an advisor to several members of the Bronfman family.

It was Herbits that Edgar turned to for advice and assistance when Clare Bronfman and Sara Bronfman became involved with NXIVM – an organization that Edgar described as a cult.


 Sara and Clare Bronfman provided the money that funded Raniere’s reign of terror.

Herbits spent a great deal of time and effort trying to find some way to convince the Bronfman sisters to get out of NXIVM.

But despite his best efforts, they remained in the cult, spending millions upon millions of dollars on Raniere’s harebrained investment schemes – and the numerous legal actions he initiated to wreak havoc upon those that he considered to be his enemies.

At one point, Clare and Sara warned their father that if he didn’t get Herbits to stop investigating Raniere and NXIVM, they would cut off all contact with him.

Not willing to take any chances, Edgar reportedly ordered Herbits to cease all his investigative activities or be fired.


Herbits was born and raised in Pittsfield, MA – which was also the birthplace of Joe O’Hara, who quit working for NXIVM when he learned about some of its illegal activities and, thus, became one of the earliest targets of Raniere’s wrath.

Herbits graduated from Tufts College – and several years later from Georgetown University Law School.

In between college and law school, Herbits worked as a Congressional staffer – and became famous for a book he wrote entitled “How to End the Draft – The Case for an All-Volunteer Army”. Even while attending law school, he served as a consultant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense.

In 1974, Herbits was hired by Donald H. Rumsfeld, the then-Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford. Later, he moved to Geneva where he served as Counsel to the U.S. Delegation to the Multinational Trade Negotiations. And in 1976, he returned to work at the Pentagon as the Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretaries of Defense.

It was in 1977 that Herbits was hired by the Seagram Company Ltd. – which is where he met Edgar Bronfman, Sr.

He held a variety of positions during his 20-year career at Seagram. And during that time, he also became a close confidant of Edgar Bronfman, Sr.

Following his retirement from Seagram in 1997, Herbits established his own consulting firm, The Herbits Group.

Among the various assignments that he took on as a consultant was to resolve the crisis that beset the World Jewish Congress (WJC) at a time it was being headed up by Edgar Bronfman, Sr.

The crisis at the WJC involved various financial irregularities that eventually led to a full-scale investigation by the New York State Attorney General.

During that investigation, Herbits took over as the Secretary-General of the WJC – and eventually negotiated an end to the New York State investigation.


Herbits was often entrusted by Edgar Bronfman, Sr. to handle the most delicate matters.

Edgar Bronfman, Sr.

Whether it was a business issue, a political problem or a family matter, it was Herbits that Edgar often turned to take care of things – quickly and discretely.

Thus, it was no surprise that when Clare and Sara became entwined with Keith Raniere and the NXIVM cult, it was Herbits that Edgar turned to for help.

Despite his best efforts, however, Herbits was unable to extract Clare and Sara from Raniere’s clutches.

But even though he was directly ordered to cease all efforts by Edgar, Herbits is rumored to have continued working on ways to break Raniere’s control over Edgar’s daughters.


It’s uncertain what Herbits will be asked to testify about in terms of Raniere.

But it’s likely that at least some of his testimony will concern his own investigation of NXIVM following the publication of the article in Forbes magazine about “The World’s Strangest Executive Coach”.

One thing that is certain is that there is no chance that Raniere will have any witnesses testifying on his behalf who will have anywhere near the stature of Stephen E. Herbits.

It may have taken Herbits a little longer than unusual to get the job done in terms of taking Raniere down but he has very likely never stopped working on it.

About the author


News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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