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.
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.
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.
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.
15 commentsOn Stephen E. Herbits – Edgar Bronfman’s Confidant – on the Witness Stand
Slight correction, Herbits didn’t write the book, he “…provided the authors, Congressmen Frank J. Horton, Richard S. Schweiker, Garner E. Shriver, Robert T. Stafford and Charles W. Whalen, Jr., with research and editorial assistance for writing this book” according to: https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf7r29n95q/entire_text/
I doubt he’s going to be able to talk much about the crimes committed, as most of these were very much behind the scenes and more recent. However, he will be able to tug on a few heartstrings regarding how Bronfman’s daughters treated him. It’s always a good thing to show what a dirtbag Raniere is before the long knives come out later in the trial.
This will be very interesting. As I wrote in a comment recently, I assume that someone like Bronfman would know to perform due diligence, and would hire very good people to gather background information for him.
Herbits likely did a very diligent job, and will bring real gravitas to the testimony. With access to lots of resources, he may well reveal things that we haven’t heard before.
That old Forbes graphic reminds me of a time when ESP/NXIVM was managing to portray themselves in terms of executive coaching. While that sounds more prestigious – and perhaps they had ambitions along those lines – from what I can tell now, it was always more of a success and motivational seminar group, in a format sometimes referred to as large group awareness training (LGAT). While in the early days they attracted some high-profile participants to their initial programs, I’m not aware of Raniere, or anyone affiliated with him, actually doing direct coaching of major corporate executives. And from what we know now, anyone with what it takes to be an upper-level executive at a major corporation, would probably quickly have realized what a fraud and manipulator Raniere was if they had interacted with him directly – though apparently Nancy Salzman had a way with Edgar Bronfman for a while.
I’m looking forward to Herbit’s testimony. I can only imagine the damning evidence he gathered on this cult, done quietly and thoroughly, backed by Edgar Bronfman’s fortune. Someone who has spent a lifetime troubleshooting organizations, cutting through bullshit, pragmatic and competent. He’s an experienced, high-caliber lawyer, the kind of witness to give the opposing attorney nightmares.
So amazing! Did you know that Kreuk was still in Nxvim in 2015– I’m cumming!!!
I hoping Herb drops the boom(sailing term).
Dr Danielle Roberts and Fiji mentioned in court.
Kirsten Gillibrand’s latest donation.
Thanks as always!
It’s amazing to me that both Bronfman sisters had over $400,000,000 a piece at one time and they chose to attend, and later join, a self help &!enrichment cult. A cult lead by a supreme nerd, calling himself Vanguard, taking his name from a video game.
Both sisters could have been doing anything they wanted…..
enjoying everything life has to offer and instead they chose to spend it in upstate New York with a total tool.
Yet that is very typical of the rich. The Beatles got involved with weird Indian meditation stuff and hare krishna; I fyou don’t have to earn a living and have all your material needs looked after I suppose that just leaves with trying to find meaning when you have no work or purpose. however not everyone turns out like this. Plenty of the very rich seem to find more sensible interests.
It is very difficult for a parent to control a child once that child becomes an adult.
I know there was a wish by Edgar Senior to establish a guardianship over Clare and Sara but short of a trust to deny the sisters access to the principal of the estate there is little that can control them except the bitter pain of experience.
The Bronfman sisters have so much money they could help less fortunate, the sick, the poor, various charities and still have enough money to galavant around the world to their hearts content…..
“The Bronfman sisters have so much money they could help less fortunate, the sick, the poor, various charities and still have enough money to galavant around the world to their hearts content….”
And pigs could fly if you strapped jet engines to their backs.
But it ain’t gonna happen..
I meant that it would is incredible how small minded the Bronfman girls are.
They could do anything and they chose cult in upstate New York.
Edgar should have placed much tighter financial limits on them. That was a huge mistake.
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