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Crime The Bizarre Life of the Man Accused in the Sarah Lawrence Sex Case

19:25  13 february  2020
19:25  13 february  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

Student's father charged in alleged sex cult at New York college

  Student's father charged in alleged sex cult at New York college Student's father charged in alleged sex cult at New York collegeLawrence Ray, a former friend of ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, is charged with sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor, and other offenses.

He has known mobsters and politicians and high-ranking American military officers. He has portrayed himself as an international man of mystery who played a role in helping to end the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s.

a person standing in front of a group of people posing for the camera: Lawrence V. Ray was charged with conspiracy, extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor and related charges.© Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times Lawrence V. Ray was charged with conspiracy, extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor and related charges.

He had contacts with foreign leaders and arranged Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to City Hall in 1997 to meet with the then-mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani. For the last 19 years, he has been in and out of legal trouble for everything from involvement in a mob stock pump-and-dump scheme to custody issues involving his children.

Student's parent charged with sex trafficking, forced labor at liberal arts college

  Student's parent charged with sex trafficking, forced labor at liberal arts college Lawrence Ray is accused of running a sex cult out of Sarah Lawrence College.Lawrence Ray was charged with sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor and other offenses regarding his alleged criminal actions, some of which he went on with for nearly a decade, according to the indictment from federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

For decades, Lawrence V. Ray, 60, who was charged by federal law enforcement on Tuesday in a bizarre scheme that included extortion, forced prostitution and forced labor involving a group of students he met while he was living with his daughter at Sarah Lawrence College, has been described by some as a master manipulator.

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Burly and intense, Mr. Ray has put himself at the center of local politics. In 1998, he was the best man at the wedding of a former New York police commissioner, Bernard B. Kerik.

But he’s also turned on those who have trusted him — first as an F.B.I. informant against the mob, and then as a cooperating witness in an investigation that would ultimately land Mr. Kerik in prison.

In 2010, apparently down and out, Mr. Ray, who had recently been released from prison on a custody charge, moved into his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y., federal investigators said.

Man charged in sex trafficking, extortion of Sarah Lawrence College students

  Man charged in sex trafficking, extortion of Sarah Lawrence College students The father of a former Sarah Lawrence student is accused of manipulating her school friends.Lawrence Ray, 60, was arrested today at his home in Piscataway, New Jersey, and is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in federal court. One of the victims was with Ray when he was arrested, authorities said.

He is now facing decades in prison, accused of manipulating students from the school to the point that they were willing to falsely confess to crimes. He is charged with coercing one woman into prostitution, and with stealing $1 million from his victims, according to the indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

“Larry Ray is a psychotic con man who has victimized every friend he’s ever had,” Mr. Kerik, who has said he cut ties with Mr. Ray in 2000, was quoted as saying in the 2019 New York magazine article that prompted the government’s investigation. “It’s been close to 20 years since I last heard from him, yet his reign of terror continues.”

The following portrait of Mr. Ray was put together from interviews, court documents and news coverage by The Times over the years.

Here’s what we know about him:

Ties to reputed mobsters, fears of a hit man

Mr. Ray, who is also known as Lawrence Grecco, grew up in Brooklyn and New Jersey. In the 1980s, he became a partner in a bar in Scotch Plains, N.J., called Club Malibu and JJ Rockers. At the bar, he began meeting people from all walks of life, including politicians from New York and New Jersey.

Sarah Lawrence College sex trafficking case: What we know

  Sarah Lawrence College sex trafficking case: What we know He is accused of sexual and psychological manipulation. What we know about the allegations against Lawrence Ray.Here's what we know about the case.

Bernard Kerik wearing a suit and tie: Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, said he cut ties with Mr. Ray in 2000.© Louis Lanzano/Associated Press Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, said he cut ties with Mr. Ray in 2000.

In the early 1990s, he formed a commercial insurance brokerage firm, helping insure people for projects such as construction.

In this role, he met a reputed mobster who owned a company called U.S. Bridge of New York, according to federal investigators. Mr. Ray agreed to help the company get insurance for a major project.

At some point in the mid-1990s, Mr. Ray began to believe that someone from the mob attached to the company was trying to kill him. Mr. Kerik helped him contact the F.B.I., according to emails between the two men. Mr. Ray began serving as an informant in a federal investigation related to a wide-ranging securities fraud scheme involving the pumping and dumping of stocks. He ended up being indicted himself, along with 18 others, for a role in the scheme.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Frank DiTommaso, who faced perjury charges in 2012, was a former friend of Mr. Ray.© Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times Frank DiTommaso, who faced perjury charges in 2012, was a former friend of Mr. Ray.

In 2000, federal investigators charged Mr. Ray with agreeing to pay a $100,000 bribe to a bond brokerage firm executive, according to a 2004 federal court filing. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit security fraud and was sentenced to five years probation.

Lawrence Ray Accused Of Forcing Daughter’s Friends Into Labor, Prostitution While Extorting $1 Million

  Lawrence Ray Accused Of Forcing Daughter’s Friends Into Labor, Prostitution While Extorting $1 Million The 60-year-old was indicated Tuesday on several charges, including sex trafficking, extortion, forced labor and money laundering. “The conduct alleged here is outrageous. It makes you angry,” FBI Assistant Director Bill Sweeney told reporters. “If you’re not angry, you don’t have a soul.”Web Extra: Read the indictment that details the charges (pdf)U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman described Lawrence as a master manipulator who preyed on his daughter’s college friends.

Friendship with Mayor Giuliani’s police commissioner

Appointed New York City police commissioner in 2000, Mr. Kerik became a national figure after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. In 2004, President George W. Bush nominated Mr. Kerik to lead the Department of Homeland Security. But a series of scandals, some of which involved Mr. Ray, destroyed that chance.

Mr. Kerik and Mr. Ray had become friends in the mid-1990s. The two men worked out together and rode motorcycles. At the time, Mr. Kerik was a rising star in the New York City Department of Correction. He became the commissioner of the department early in 1998.

In November 1998, Mr. Kerik got married in New Jersey, and Mr. Ray served as best man. Mr. Ray and another friend, also a partner in Club Malibu, wrote checks to cover parts of Mr. Kerik’s wedding and reception.

In 1999, Mr. Kerik wanted to renovate his new apartment in Riverdale, in the Bronx, according to emails between Mr. Ray and Mr. Kerik. The scandal over who paid for his renovation ended up engulfing Mr. Kerik.

Through Mr. Ray, Mr. Kerik befriended a man named Frank DiTommaso, who ran a construction company, the Interstate Industrial Corporation, with his brother. The company hired Mr. Ray as its security director, according to The Times’s coverage of a resulting case that accused the former city police commissioner of, among other things, accepting illegal renovations on his Bronx apartment.

NJ Dad Launched Sex Cult At Daughter's College Dormitory: Feds

  NJ Dad Launched Sex Cult At Daughter's College Dormitory: Feds Authorities said the NJ man targeted his daughter's friends and subjected them to physical abuse and sexual manipulation.Authorities said the man targeted his daughter's friends and subjected them to physical abuse and sexual and psychological manipulation.

The company had performed more than $200,000 in renovations on the apartment for almost no cost. State and federal investigators discovered the arrangement after Mr. Kerik withdrew from consideration for Homeland Security secretary.

Mr. Ray agreed to cooperate with investigators looking into Mr. Kerik. In 2006, Mr. Kerik pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to $165,000 in gifts received from the construction company. He was jailed three years later after pleading to eight federal felony charges.

Arranging a visit by Mikhail Gorbachev

Mr. Ray had contacts with at least one American general and Russian officials. He liked to talk about how he helped broker a deal to end bombing in Kosovo in the late 1990s, a claim at least partly backed up by a letter from NATO in court records, The Washington Post reported in 2007.

Somehow, he also formed a connection with someone who worked for Mr. Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. In 1997, Mr. Ray helped to arrange for Mr. Gorbachev to visit New York, where he met with Mr. Giuliani at City Hall. He later said he arranged the visit, on Dec. 18, 1997, at Mr. Kerik’s request.

A photograph from the time shows Mr. Ray outside City Hall that day, standing behind Mr. Gorbachev, with Mr. Kerik in the foreground. Mr. Kerik and Mr. Gorbachev are both gesturing with their hands in opposite directions.

Beaten up in a lobby

Mr. Ray would end up cooperating with authorities in cases against not only Mr. Kerik but also Mr. DiTommaso. Mr. Ray testified against Mr. DiTommaso in a 2012 perjury trial related to the renovation scandal.

Years later, the slight was not forgotten. Mr. Ray popped up in the news in 2017, when a video from two years earlier of his being pummeled in the lobby of the Hudson Hotel by Mr. DiTommaso was obtained by the Daily News.

The video shows Mr. DiTommaso walking past Mr. Ray, and then back toward him after apparently recognizing him. Mr. DiTommaso then attacked Mr. Ray. Two people nearby in the lobby rushed over and tried to stop the attack.

The beating left Mr. Ray with a skull fracture as well as permanent speech and other neurological problems, Mr. Ray’s lawyer, Edward Hayes, said at the time. Federal investigators now charge that by that point Mr. Ray was already years into his extortion schemes involving the students from Sarah Lawrence College.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

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