Accused Sarah Lawrence sex “cult” leader Larry Ray laundered money through his daughter’s links to North Carolina’s Democratic party, washing some of his allegedly ill-gotten loot through ActBlue, prosecutors claim.
The accusation came to a head on Tuesday during the second day of witness testimony by Ray’s alleged victim Felicia Rosario, who described funneling money from Ray to his daughter Talia Ray, who was then working for a North Carolina political candidate. Ray’s accused co-conspirator Isabella Pollok also contributed to the campaign, Rosario said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon previewed that line of questioning during arguments after testimony concluded and after the jury went home on Monday afternoon.
“Then in terms of the Act Blue N.C. Democratic Party, it’s the government’s allegation that money was laundered in this case, including to Talia Ray,” Sassoon told U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman on Monday. “You will see on this slide as one example that she directly received $34,690, but around this time she was also working in North Carolina for the Democratic party. That was her job.”
Sassoon signaled at the time that Rosario would testify that she was instructed to make payments to ActBlue for Talia Ray’s benefit — “and that goes directly to money laundering,” the prosecutor added.
During her second day on the witness stand on Tuesday, Rosario testified that Ray sent her money to forward to Talia Ray, who has not been charged with a crime. Rosario noted that Talia Ray had been working for a Democratic politician at the time. Though the politicians’s name was not uttered in court, a LinkedIn page for the defendant’s daughter shows she worked for failed North Carolina House of Representatives candidate Lowell Simon in 2018.
As first reported by the New York Post, records compiled by the transparency group Open Secrets show four maximum donations by Felicia Rosario to North Carolina’s Democratic party and Simon. Rosario donated twice to Simon in the maximum amount of $2,600 and twice to the state party in the amounts of $5,000 and $5,500 in 2018, according to records. Pollok gave two maximum donations of $2,600 to Simon’s campaign and $5,200 to the state’s Democratic party that same year, the records show.
An emailed press inquiry sent to Simon’s now-defunct campaign email bounced back and appears no longer to be operational. Simon’s archived website does not list a phone number. Neither the politician nor the state political party has been accused of any wrongdoing.
Ray’s defense attorney Neil Kelly attempted to keep the information from the jury, arguing that it would risk “undue prejudice.”
“If jurors have strong political feelings, if they think money was flowing to the Democratic party, we think that would be unduly prejudicial,” he said.
Judge Liman, a Donald Trump appointee, allowed the evidence to be entered and declined to redact the political references.
When she first took the stand, Felicia Rosario said that she fell into Ray’s orbit via her brother Santos Rosario, a Sarah Lawrence student and the first alleged victim to testify. She said that her relationship with Ray soon turned romantic. Although they were never married, Ray referred to her as his “wife,” and she referred to him as her “husband,” she said. She further testified that he urged her into extreme sexual situations, goading her to have sex with strangers and to consider becoming an escort.
Unlike previous witness Claudia Drury, Felicia Rosario testified that did not turn to sex work. She said that Ray had previously accused her of both damaging property and of poisoning him and proposed that she become an escort to pay him back. Drury previously testified that he proposed the same rationale.
During cross-examination, Ray’s defense attorney suggested that her client’s poisoning fears were not entirely fantastical. Rosario acknowledged that Ray did require medical attention at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for elevated mercury levels. He also found a rare spider, typically found in Australia, on his stepfather’s property in North Carolina, the witness acknowledged.
(Photos via DOJ)
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