A man who bragged about ruining the career of an ex-New York City police commissioner who once seemed destined for a national post was a con man who coerced his daughter’s college friends into obeying his commands and supplying him with millions of dollars, a prosecutor told a jury Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Bracewell urged Manhattan federal court jurors during a closing argument to convict Lawrence Ray of charges including racketeering, conspiracy, forced labor, sex trafficking and obstruction of justice.
“Bring Lawrence Ray to justice,” she said as the defendant scribbled notes while lawyers summarized a month of evidence.
Ray’s lawyer, Marne Lenox, countered that Ray was a victim of the young people he lived with who made him feel paranoid and under attack.
“Everyone was out to get him, Larry believed,” Lenox said, portraying his daughter's friends as “storytellers” who he believed had intentionally poisoned him.
Closings were to continue Tuesday in an unusual trial that featured testimony from several of the men and women who lived with Ray for much of the last decade before his arrest in early 2020 disrupted what Bracewell characterized as the operations of a crime syndicate she labeled the “Ray Family."
The trial was twice interrupted so Ray, 62, could be taken to the hospital for treatment of medical issues that Judge Lewis J. Liman assured jurors was unrelated to the coronavirus.
In her closing, Lenox said Ray in the fall of 2010 impressed friends of his daughter at her on-campus dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College with his claims that he'd spoiled the rise of former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik after serving as best man at his wedding.
She said he told them that people including Kerik were out to get him.
Kerik was the city's police commissioner from 2000 to 2001, serving during the 9/11 attacks, and he nearly became President George Bush’s homeland security secretary in 2004, but his name was abruptly withdrawn as the nominee.
Shortly afterward, the Daily News reported that Ray, who was under indictment in a stock scam, had produced evidence that Kerik failed to report thousands of dollars in gifts he’d received while working for the city. Kerik eventually served nearly four years in prison for tax fraud and other crimes.
Bracewell said Ray initially won respect from the students with his stories of influence as he moved into his daughter's dormitory, but he quickly turned their trust against them by convincing them that they had poisoned him and owed him millions of dollars in compensation.
Then, she said, he used violence and threats and terrified them into following his commands.
“Every single one of his actions was designed … to keep control over them,” Bracewell said, urging jurors to reject defense claims that Ray acted as he did because he believed they had poisoned him and he wanted to build a criminal case.
“Why on earth would you share meals with your supposed poisoners?” she asked.
The prosecutor cited the testimony of one woman who said she paid Ray $2.5 million from her proceeds as a prostitute, an endeavor she said he steered her into after she became convinced she had poisoned him.
Bracewell also directed jurors to recall the testimony of a student who was about to begin work as a doctor when she became romantically involved with Ray, leaving her sidetracked for the next decade.
The prosecutor said Ray was able to carry out his crimes with help from his daughter and Isabella Pollok, a woman who has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. Her trial is set for later this year.