A man who moved into his daughter’s dorm at Sarah Lawrence College and charmed her schoolmates has been convicted of charges that he exploited the close-knit group of friends
NEW YORK — A man who moved into his daughter’s college dorm and charmed her schoolmates with stories about his wisdom was convicted Wednesday of charges that he exploited the close-knit group, using threats and violence to enrich himself with millions of dollars.
Lawrence Ray, 62, was convicted on following a Manhattan trial where jurors heard weeks of testimony from witnesses who described his psychologically manipulative relationship with young people he first met at Sarah Lawrence College, a small liberal arts school in New York, starting in the fall of 2010. Ray moved into his daughter’s dorm after getting out of prison after serving time for a securities fraud conviction.
Sentencing was set for Sept. 16 on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, forced labor, sex trafficking and obstruction of justice. Ray, who stood with his arms at his side and faced the jury as guilty verdicts were returned on 15 counts, could face up to life in prison.
After the verdict was read, Ray was returned to custody, where he had been since his early 2020 arrest.
Jurors reached the verdict after less than a day of deliberations following a monthlong trial that featured testimony from numerous victims. Some testified that Ray had convinced them that they had poisoned or otherwise harmed him and they needed to pay him back.
One woman testified that she became a sex worker to try to pay reparations to Ray after becoming convinced that she had poisoned him. She said that, over four years, she gave Ray $2.5 million in installments that averaged between $10,000 and $50,000 per week.
Ray’s lawyers maintained he was victimized by former friends who fabricated their stories.
Ray did not testify. Twice, the trial was interrupted as he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for undisclosed illnesses.
Several students testified that they were drawn into Ray’s world as he told them stories of his past influence in New York City politics, including his role in ruining the career of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik after serving as the best man at his wedding years earlier. Ray had, in fact, been a figure in the corruption investigation that derailed Kerik’s nomination to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Some of the students agreed to live with Ray in the summer of 2011 at his Manhattan one-bedroom apartment, where his sinister side emerged as he started to claim that the students had poisoned and harmed him.
To make amends, they testified, they did what he asked, including turning over money. One man said he gave Ray over $100,000.
Prosecutors said the money was never enough, though. Through threats and violence and videotaped “confessions,” Ray tightened his hold on the young people, including forcing them to to landscaping and other work at the Pinehurst, North Carolina home of his stepfather for weeks in 2013, they said.
The abuse culminated in October 2018 when Ray for hours repeatedly abused the woman who gave him her proceeds from sex work, forcing her to be tied naked to a chair while he berated her, choked her with a leash and made her fear for her life by putting a bag over her head, prosecutors said.
Ray carried out his crimes with help from his daughter and Isabella Pollok, a woman who has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, prosecutors said. Her trial is set for later this year. The daughter has not been charged.