In a brief hearing, Isabella Pollok admitted to a count of conspiring against the United States, with a substantive count of money laundering. She told the judge that she helped Ray disguise money that she knew came from “illegal activities.”
“I know that what I was doing was wrong and against the law,” Pollok added.
Prosecutors specified that the illegal activities supporting her plea were sex trafficking and extortion.
Asked by U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman whether she knew that was the basis of her plea, Pollok responded: “Yes, your honor, I understand.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Pollok faces a maximum five-year sentence, which is also the stipulated federal guidelines range of her offense. She also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the financial gain of her conspiracy.
At a trial earlier this year, federal prosecutors referred to Pollok as Ray’s “lieutenant.” They described her as instrumental in his conspiracy to sexually traffic her fellow student Claudia Drury, who testified that she gave $2.5 million of her earnings as a sex worker to Ray.
Pollok helped pick up and funnel the money, prosecutors say.
Drury also testified that Pollok taped her torment during what prosecutors described as Drury’s “long night of torture.”
To punish her for getting close to a client, Drury said, Ray subjected her to extreme abuse inside midtown Manhattan’s Gregory Hotel. Drury said Ray stripped her naked, handcuffed her to a chair, suffocated her with a bag, choked her with a leash, and doused her head with water next to an air conditioner, testimony accepted by the jury.
Pollok’s criminal information, spanning five pages, recounts this incident and the days that followed it.
“On or about October 16, 2018, less than one day after Pollok accompanied Lawrence Ray to a hotel in midtown Manhattan and observed Ray suffocate [Drury] with a plastic pag, Pollok collected $8,740 in extortion and sex trafficking proceeds from [Drury],” the information states.
“Between on or about October 18, 2018 and on or about October 23, 2018, Pollok deposited approximately $6,500 of extortion and sex trafficking proceeds from [Drury] into a bank account in Pollok’s name in order to conceal and disguise the nature, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds,” it continues.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mollie Bracewell said the government had extensive evidence against Pollok and noted that much of it was aired at Ray’s trial. It would include witness testimony, financial records, phone data, hotel records, and video and audio recordings.
During Ray’s trial, prosecutors showed jurors evidence that Ray and Pollok’s phones placed them in the area of the hotel where Drury said she was tortured. She testified that Ray and Pollok had burgers at the nearby Starlight Diner. Authorities found a receipt for that meal in a search of Ray’s home, which had both Ray and Pollok’s initials.
During closing arguments in Ray’s case, a prosecutor said that he and Pollok went on a “shopping spree” the next day.
In a brief statement following the hearing, Pollok’s attorney David Keith Bertan briefly told reporters that he is pleased that the plea will allow his client to move on with her life. The defense’s sentencing submission is due on Jan. 23, 2023.
Pollok, who wore a pinstripe suit and had her hair in a bun for the hearing, left the courtroom with her lawyers without speaking to reporters. Her sentencing has been slated for Feb. 22, 2023.
Read Pollok’s superseding criminal information, below:
(Photo via DOJ)
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