What to Know
- Lawrence Ray -- the federal informant whose information helped lead to the arrest of former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik -- was arrested by the FBI on sex trafficking charges, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
- According to the indictment, Ray "targeted a group of college students and others for indoctrination and criminal exploitation"
- Ray is facing multiple charges including extortion, extortion conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor, forced labor trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity and money laundering, among others
Lawrence Ray — the federal informant whose information helped lead to the arrest of former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik — has been arrested by the FBI on sex trafficking and other charges, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
Ray "targeted a group of college students and others for indoctrination and criminal exploitation," according to the indictment.
He is accused of abusing university students at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, the institution of higher education his daughter attended. He was taken into custody 6 a.m. Tuesday in New Jersey — with one of his alleged victims and his daughter in his apartment at the time of his arrest, according to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
Allegedly he lived with some of the victims, first in on-campus housing at a college in Westchester County and then in Manhattan as well as Pinehurst, North Carolina, and other locations.
The indictment says that over the course of nearly a decade, starting in 2010, Ray allegedly subjected the victims to sexual and psychological manipulation and physical abuse.
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Federal prosecutors allege that Ray conspired with others to assist in some of his crimes and laundered money related the crimes, which amounted to about $1 million obtained from at least five victims.
According to the indictment, in 2010 Ray moved in to on-campus housing with his daughter and her co-ed roommates during their sophomore year at the Westchester County college. He then allegedly began "therapy" sessions with some of the roommates supposedly to help them with psychological issues.
In a Tuesday press conference, Berman said that "at the core of Ray's criminal conduct was his ability to psychologically control his victims."
The indictment claims that after gaining the roommates' trust he would interrogate them during sessions that involved verbal and physical abuse, as well as make false accusations including that the roommates damaged the apartment and his property, harmed and sabotaged him and his family, lied and poisoned him and his family. If one of the alleged victims denied the accusations they would allegedly be interrogated for hours.
Ray, according to the court document, demanded confessions from the alleged victims through tactics including sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence, and threats of criminal legal action. He allegedly extracted false confessions from seven individuals and used those confessions to blackmail at least one female victim into prostitution.
Federal prosecutors also allege that Ray forced various of his victims to perform physical labor and services in a scheme that intended to cause his victims to believe that if they did not perform the jobs, they would suffer serious harm.
Berman said that Ray alienated the college students from their parents and "subjected the victims to almost unspeakable abuse."
In the same Tuesday press conference, Assistant FBI Director William Sweeney said, "the conduct here is outrageous, it makes me angry. If it doesn't make you angry, you don't have a soul."
Ray is facing multiple charges including extortion, extortion conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor, forced labor trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity and money laundering, among others. He faces a life sentence if convicted.
Ray sported a red, white and blue shirt with khakis at his Tuesday afternoon arraignment, where he was stoic and smiling at times. He requested a public defender, and ordered held without bail.
It is expected Ray will be arraigned on the indictment Wednesday afternoon, where he is expected to plead not guilty.
After the sex trafficking and abuse allegations first surfaced, Ray met with News 4 off camera and denied the allegations. He had alleged he was being set up.
In a statement to News 4, Sarah Lawrence College said in part: "Sarah Lawrence College has just learned of the indictment of a former parent in the Southern District of New York. The charges contained in the indictment are serious, wide-ranging, disturbing, and upsetting. As always the safety and well-being of our students and alumni is a priority for the College."
Additionally, the college said that last year, after New York Magazine published "a range of accusations" about Ray, the college held an internal investigation into the alleged incidents that took place on campus in 2011.
"The investigation did not substantiate those specific claims," the college said, adding that although the school has not been contacted by prosecutors, they will cooperate with the investigation.
According to federal officials, the 2019 article was the impetus for the investigation.
Berman also said there could be additional victims.
Ray was once good friends with Kerik. But Ray’s cooperation with the FBI in the corruption investigation into the former police commissioner helped expose Kerik’s improper acceptance of tens of thousands in free renovations on his then-Riverdale apartment from DiTomasso’s firm, Interstate Industrial.
Kerik, the city’s former police and correction commissioner, went to prison for four years.
Hailed as a hero for leading the NYPD during the 9/11 attacks, Kerik fell from grace when he became the first New York City police commissioner ever imprisoned on federal crimes. His legal problems clouded the political fortunes of other elected officials, especially that of his mentor, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
"I haven’t spoken to Larry Ray in over 19 years. I only wish that the FBI and the Justice Department realized what a con-man he was prior to making him their superstar witness against me," Kerik told News 4 in a statement. "In their zeal to destroy me and my family, they ignored his lies, deceit, and inconsistencies. Hopefully, this indictment will be the end of his reign of terror on everyone he has conned, manipulated, or deceived, and the children he has hurt."