27 Mar

If you wanted to know how disgraced Buffalo developer and current Niagara Falls developer Frank Parlato can fund his various schemes, consider this, from an article in the New York Post.

In an e-mail about the real-estate deal, one of Raniere’s closest advisers, Kristin Keeffe, revealed that Parlato was being paid $1 million by the group to wrest control of the project from Plyam.

How does a Frank Parlato find himself a millionaire?

Clare and Sara Bronfman, heirs to the Seagrams fortune, are caught up in NXIVM – a group that is commonly referred to as a cult, run by a person named Keith Raniere. Their father, Edgar, desperately wants them out of NXIVM.

NXIVM, based in Albany, sponsored a recent visit to that city by the Dalai Lama. Several local people who associate with Parlato got to travel to see the Dalai Lama speak last year.

From an expose in the Times-Union:

The case is Precision Development LLC vs. Yuri Plyam, a claim first brought two years ago by NXIVM principals. The initial suit alleged Plyam embezzled some of $26 million the Bronfman sisters had invested in a failed real estate venture in which Plyam was supposed to manage the construction of residential homes around Los Angeles.

Plyam had been Raniere’s commodities trader, the motion says. Plyam countersued, and the case has become a complicated argument involving him, Raniere, other NXIVM leaders and the Bronfmans.

In Plyam’s countersuit, in which the new complaint emerges, his attorney seeks to highlight Raniere, portray him as a commodities market loser and list him as a defendant.

Evidently, Raniere was involved in some sort of commodities/real estate scheme with the Plyams, but had allegedly run out of money; no less than $100 million, much of it from the Bronfman sisters. The Post story alleges that Raniere wanted to cut the Plyams out of the deal, and paid Parlato $1 million to pose as a representative of Edgar Bronfman to the Plyams in an effort to remove them from the deal.

Parlato’s goal was to convince Plyam that Bronfman wanted to buy into the real-estate deal and cut Raniere out, the papers allege.

Parlato told Plyam that Bronfman “had been trying to get the girls out of the cult for a long time,” and that getting in on the construction project would allow the old man to keep an eye on his — and his daughters’ — investment, according to the documents.
Plyam believed Parlato, who continually disparaged the “destructive” Raniere and said Bronfman was desperate to “get his daughters out of NXIVM.”

“The father feels that Raniere took advantage of his babies,” Parlato told Plyam, according to the legal documents.

In reality, Parlato — who in the 1990s was accused by Buffalo-area lawmakers of running a housing scam — was working for Raniere, another set of court papers claim.

Naturally, as you might expect, it was Steve Pigeon who introduced Parlato to NXIVM.

It’s a tangled web indeed, and one that is being played out in court right now. But the allegation of affirmative fraud and misrepresentation is shocking.

12 Responses to “Scam-Making”

  1. Francis Parluzzi Hudson March 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    Frank Parlato’s latest website… lovingly devoted to the greatness that is Frank Parlato.

    QUESTION: The ultimate narcissist or a freaky, little man with a bad facial tick, over-compensating to the extreme? You make the call.
    “Frank Parlato Jr. shows how a true investigative journalist proceeds to uncover giant corruption- in this case in the tourism industry in Niagara Falls surrounding the monopoly granted to the Maid of the Mist boat tour in the lower Niagara pool just under the falls.
    The magnitude of Parlato’s work here is breathtaking and may likely go down in the annals of historic investigative reporting…. both for the results of his published reports in the Niagara Falls Reporter and frankly the classic handling of his painstakingly researched material combined with his elegant prose and superb presentation or marshaling of facts…
    In and around Niagara Falls Parlato’s exposing the long time secret dealings of the Maid of the Mist is almost legendary….”
    This is so far off the charts on the weirdness scale… Just remember to genuflect when you see him.

  2. RaChaCha March 27, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Umm…trying to follow this makes my head hurt and spin round and round (worst, I can feel the pea soup about to spray out)

    Time for another Pundit-Geek chalk talk–?

    • Christopher Smith March 27, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

      I’m with you. I’ve been following this sordid, complicated mess for two years and I’m still confused. We need a 30 word composite on all of this or maybe a chalk talk.

  3. Frank Parlato March 28, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Parlato Clears air on misleading Post Story
    by Frank Parlato Jr.
    Regarding your posting of material published in the NY Post I’d like to make the following comments:
    The NY Post on Saturday published a completely misleading article on the facts surrounding my involvement in a complex real estate deal involving Seagram heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman in a real estate deal in Los Angeles. 
    The story suggests, through the use of selective information from several pending law suits that I somehow inaccurately represented my mission to the real estate developer who was a partner of the Bronfman sisters. 
    The developer, Yuri Plyam, made these suggestions in a lawsuit and the NY Post ran the allegations completely out of context. 
    The Post never contacted me for comment. 
    And through the misrepresentations in the story paint a completely false picture of what actually transpired.
    I offer the following response in attempt to clear the air of these false representations in this completely inaccurate, selective and incomplete story in the NY Post.
    Firstly, contrary to what the Post suggests, I represented Sara and Clare Bronfman and was paid by them. 
    Not by the Albany based group- NXIVM. 
    The facts are these: The Bronfman sisters had funded a Los Angeles Real Estate development with a “partner” named Yuri Plyam.
    The plan was to purchase vacant land – and build multi million dollar homes.
    Plyam had gotten more then $26 million wired to him over a three year period by the two Bronfman sisters. (I have the records)
    With some of that money Plyam purchased 26 parcels of real estate in Los Angeles County, but, strangely- as I learned- he did not put them in the Bronfman’s name.
    The deal was that the Bronfman’s were supposed to own 66% of the project for funding it and Plyam 33% for developing the project.
    On paper however Plyam owned the 26 parcels solely, although he had not put one dime into the project.
    When I got involved, in December, 2007, Plyam wanted another $5 million from the Bronfmans and they asked me to look into it- since the project was now $7 million over budget. 
    I went to LA to check it out.
    I discovered that not only had Plyam not put the properties in the Bronfman sister’s name but there was nowhere near the $26 million into the so-called “partnership” properties. Plyam was using their money surreptitiously to build himself a $5 million dollar mansion on Roxbury Dr. in Beverly Hills.
    I confronted him on this; persuaded him to sign over 66% of the LLC that held title to the 26 properties to the Bronfman sisters and hence recovered for the sisters a substantial part of their investment. Plyam assured me that he had always intended to put the sister’s agreed upon 66% interest in their name but for various reasons he had not.
    My first goal was to get the properties they had put $26 million into their control.
    The Post (and Plyam ) say I “wrested” control away from Plyam.
    The truth is he was never supposed to have that control. He was only supposed to be a 33% owner. So what I did was not “wrest” control but give the Bronfman sister’s their rightful control.  
    At all times when I negotiated with Plyam, I had the signed authorization from the Bronfman sister’s saying I was their representative. 
    Real estate is done with signed documents. Not talk. I presented no documents saying or suggesting that I represented Edgar Bronfman, the sister’s father. (I have all the critical documents with both the Bronfman sisters’ and Plyam’s signatures witnessed by Plyam’s attorneys showing he knew he was doing business with the sisters not the father.)
    Plyam knew he was signing agreements with the sisters, not their father- as his signature attests.
    After I secured control of the properties there was another problem. There was in my estimation about $9 million of the money the Bronfman sisters sent to Plyam that never made it into the partnership properties.
    I uncovered substantial evidence and a forensic accountant hired by the Bronfman’s later supported these findings.
    The Bronfman sisters were naturally upset that Plyam (who they had considered a friend) had stolen a substantial amount of money from them and consequently they sued Plyam.
    At this point, we had a disagreement on how to handle the matter. I believed that we should persuade Plyam to turn over the properties he had bought with the Bronfman’s money and then commence fixing all the properties.
    Everyone of them was in a state of partial repair and to not fix them soon would leave the half and one quarter built houses (most of them on hillsides) in danger of rust (rebar) and warping (exposed plywood) and possible collapse since there could be hill-slides. On top of that these houses were all in the most prestigious neighborhoods (Hollywood Hills, Woodland Hills, Benedict Canyon – every one of them south of Ventura Blvd) and I knew from visiting them that some of the neighbors were disturbed, since many of these houses that Plyam had started building were going at an unbelievable slow pace. (He started building the properties and took the men off to work on his own properties.)  
    I urged the Bronfman’s to settle with Plyam and begin renovations at once.
    They preferred to sue Plyam instead, against my recommendation, although they did use the attorney that I selected for them, Latham and Watkins, who was in fact a recommendation from the Mayor of Los Angeles.
    However my role was concluded now and I left LA.
    In Plyam’s countersuit, he has made up a number of fantastic allegations- as people often do in lawsuits- especially when they are guilty.
    One of these falsehoods is that he said that I claimed I represented Edgar Bronfman, not his daughters. Once again, all the paperwork belies his allegations. All the documents he signed shows that he knew who he was doing business with – the two sisters who had funded him. He signed over majority interest to the two Bronfman sisters. Period.
    The whole crazy notion that he thought I represented the girl’s father is preposterous on its face. Who would sign over a $26 million dollar company because someone claimed they represented Edgar Bronfman without proof of any kind whatsoever?
    I mean he could have checked with Bronfman Sr., or should have, if he really believed that.
    Would you sign a multi million dollar deal with a stranger who claimed he represented someone without any kind of proof except the stranger’s word?
    Nevertheless, what is not mentioned in this fantastic and factually inaccurate story in the Post is that I recovered 26 properties for the two women who paid for them: Sara and Clare Bronfman, by getting them the majority interest in the LLC that held these properties. 
    The majority interest in this LLC that held title to these 26 properties did not go into Raniere’s name, did not go into my name or anyone else. I got Plyam to sign over 66% interest in the LLC to Sara and Clare Bronfman.
    It is funny how Plyam has twisted this around. 
    He was stealing the Bronfman’s sister’s money. Using their money that the women thought was going into properties they thought they had ownership interest in – and using it instead to build himself a mansion in Beverly Hills, two summer homes in Lake Arrowhead and two other multi- million dollar investment properties in LA County.
    As I said earlier, when I went to LA in January, 2008, I investigated and found that Plyam had not only used some of the Bronfman sisters’ money to buy his own personal properties but was building homes on these properties with their money too. He was fudging the payroll and having guys work on his homes and having them marked down as working on homes he was in partnership with the Bronfmans.
    (I have the payroll records which show where Plyam said the guys worked (on partnership properties) and their actual time sheets showed they really worked on Plyam’s mansion).
    The Post story quotes only from Plyam’s affidavits.
    But entirely fails to mention that the Bronfman sisters are suing Plyam for stealing their money.
    By the way it was Plyam who handled, as a commodities broker – the $65 million the Bronfman sisters’ allegedly lost in the futures market.
    This happened before I came to know the Bronfman sisters. 
    After meeting Plyam, I have some serious concerns as to whether Plyam may have stolen some or most of the Bronfman sisters’ commodities money just as he was certainly stealing their real estate investment money.
    Consequently the Post missed the whole point: Yuri Plyam is the one being sued for fraud.
    He certainly cannot say he thought the devil, or a fake Edgar Bronfman or Frank Parlato made him do it.
    Come on, this is a grown man who handled nearly one hundred million of the Bronfman sister’s money.
    How could he mistakenly think that their dad was involved even if I told him he was?
    It is ridiculous. All he had to do was call Bronfman Sr. if he really believed that.
    He has an office. He has a phone.
    In short: Plyam saw my authorization from the Bronfman sisters. I know because he signed documents with them that I arranged for him to sign.
    Plyam knew he was guilty of stealing the Bronfman sister’s money. 
    When I confronted him he signed over the sister’s rightful share- to them – not to me or Keith Raniere- the supposed Svengali alleged to have mind control over the Bronfman sisters…..  
    Talk about a convolution of justice- I recover for the two sisters majority interest in a corporation they entirely funded but were in danger of losing from a thief and I am the bad guy?
    I recovered Bronfman’s assets and was paid for it.
    The Post certainly got this one wrong.
    Incidentally, I have full documentation for all of this and plan to post it on line.
    Any documents you may care to see to substantiate my statements will of course be made available to you….

  4. Francis Parluzzi Hudson March 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    What’s up with changing your website introduction Frank? Your grandiose pronouncements about yourself no longer reflect the man?

  5. Swami O'Brien March 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Where is Tony Farina ? I thought the swami wannabe hired Tony as his PR man. Anyone who has ever dealt with the scam artist Parlato should not be surprised by this story. Just look a t his friends: Steve Pigeon, Joe Illuzer, Tony Farina, himself,…enough said.

  6. Ward March 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    I must say that the gratuitous reference in this post to the Dalai Lama seems pretty needless.
    I hope someone is not taking a free shot at a religious man, and symbol of the subjugated Tibet, simply because he seems to have fallen from the good graces of the current administration in Washington because of its desire to curry favor elsewhere.

  7. NXIVM Monitor March 31, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Frankie omitted a few facts from his long-winded explanation (Does “He doth protest too much” come to mind for anyone else out there?) Like:
       – How he charged the Bronfman sisters a million dollars for his services.
       – How NXIVM President, Nany Salzman, originally owned 50% of the LA properties.
       – How he has previously served as NXIVM’s PR representative.
       – How he previously used a false name when he met with real reporters about NXIVM.
       – How he developed a PR campaign that, among other things, was going to expose the fact that a local district attorney had been bribed.

  8. Anonymous April 1, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    I’m looking to purchase a home from Parlato Real Estate and I’m worried now. Is this all really true.


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