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In Blue Plate Special Big Tony On List of Talia Ray As UN Van Video Reverberates

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book
BBC-Guardian UK - Honduras - Video NY Mag

LITERARY UN GATE, April 15 -- "This is only supposed to happen on Long Island," Sergeant Rosario said. It wasn't clear if to his driver Cory Witmer, or to Officer Linares who had found the body.

     She was tied up and naked, and dead. That and the location of the dump, in the weeds behind the Hunts Point Market, had all the markings of the murder of a prostitute or whatever term they were using now. Escort.  Sex worker.

   "This is some Joel Rifkin b.s.," Rosario continued.

    "Or Gilgo Beach," mused Linares, who was younger and watched Netflix on his phone. While on duty, often parked down here at the bottom of the confines of the Four-One precinct.

   "With the Daily News not even having a news room anymore, and the Post focused on Hunter Biden's laptop, we might even get to investigate for a while before it becomes a big deal downtown."

* * *

   But downtown there were at least two people on the look out for such news. They worked two hundred yards from each other, just east of Foley Square. The prosecutor of course - she was between names - and, hunched over the PACER terminal in the SDNY courthouse Press Room, Kurt Wheelock. He had sources in NYPD now, and they knew his tastes.

   "This is a downtown girl," is how the text message he got put it. Kurt had been the one tweeting and singing about the Larry Ray trial, and publishing the names of his victim Claudia Drury's johns even as the prosecutors told or ordered him not to.

  This could be a good new project, while waiting for the next big SDNY or EDNY trial.

   Kurt left his dying laptop open in front of the PACER terminal, and walked the block west to the Brooklyn Bridge / City Hall subway stop. The express 4 then local 6 train would take him there.

I.

    The 41st Precinct had been known as Fort Apache, The Bronx when it was on Simpson Street. But that was a long time ago. Now is was in one of the ubiquitous orange fortresses, with careerists driving in and out of its walled parking lots in squad cars with the precinct's twitter handle painted on the side.

Trolling while rolling, or getting rolled. Kurt cut out the middleman and headed down to Hunts Point itself, on the other side of the highway and Garrison Avenue.

   Back in the brief days when Kurt had a used car, instead of now a shared Citibike, he had sometimes come to park on the hill above the end of Hunts Point. He'd listen to an Indian music show on WKCR, raging ragas as the sky turned purple and the working girls turned tricks.

  New York had changed a lot since then, but this was still prostitute row, for truckers up from the South bringing vegetables into the Hunts Point Produce Market, or the lascivious proprietors of the bodegas who came here in vans to buy the misshapen remainder fruit. It was, apparently, sustainable.

   There was still a crime scene established when Kurt got there. He put his SDNY Press Pass around his neck on the blue and yellow necklace ribbon he'd gotten from the EDNY and walked up. The cop who stepped in front of him tipped head, like, What?

  "Press," Kurt said. The cop gestured with is head. Even here amid the weeds they had established a media pen, albeit for only three other reporters. Mayor Eric Adams was supposed to better for the press, moving the credentialing from the Police Department to City Hall. But there the form asked about the applicants criminal record, including misdemeanors. They hadn't yet heard of Ban the Block, and Kurt had yet to apply.

   There was Bronx News 12, a stringer from the Post and, incongruously, a real estate reporter. Kurt nodded at them, pulled out his reporter's pad and started taking notes. They didn't know much, except that the victim didn't appear to be the type that walked the junk car streets of Longfellow and Whittier.

  This last made Kurt think, somewhat randomly, of one of the names on the Larry Ray / Claudia Drury johns' list that he had published; Ismaila Whittier, a guy working for the US State Department whom the not-here New York Times has profiled as a new-style diplomat who joined the Foreign Service after disgustedly watching the January 6 insurrection on CNN.

  Then he exploited Claudia Drury who Larry Ray kept in line by through suffocation with plastic bag over head, cold air conditioning and ice water while he ate chicken fingers from a diner by the Gregory Hotel.

  Though they were still waiting for the severed trial of Ray's co-defendant Isabella Pollok, now working that unionize Amazon plant on Staten Island, that case was over. Or was it? Kurt took more notes, and fired up his Samsung flip phone to record a vlog. This was the way he crowd sourced. Nuts and kooks and news.

II.

   William Kandinsky had a secret. The question was, Could he tell it? Not was he physically or morally able to tell it, in the real sense. Rather, did legal ethics, which are different, permit it to be told. Or did the Federal Defenders' ethos, which went beyond the NY Bar Association cannon of ethics, allow it. Was there a way to find out?

  Kandinsky had been on the team defending Larry Ray, who had turned Sarah Lawrence College student Claudia Ray into a prostitute. It had not just been pimping. Ray had broken Claudia down mentally, and filmed her reading confessions to having tried to poison him on behalf of Bernard Kerik. Then he had threatened to post the videos on the Internet and in fact had done it.

  Larry Ray was a man William Kandinsky would have sold out in under a minute, at least the William Kandinsky that had existed before he became a criminal defense lawyer. But of course that wouldn't be allowed.

 Larry was still alive and if not well, still ranting in the MDC in Brooklyn. He expected the Defenders to appeal to the Second Circuit for him, once the trial judge shot down all of his motions as he was sure to do. The jury had taken only four hours to convict Ray of all 15 counts he had faced, and even some he hadn't.

  Nor could Kandinsky say or do anything about Ray's co-defendant Isabella Pollok, who had gone with Ray to the Gregory Hotel and tortured Claudia Drury for a whole night, with a plastic bag over the head, the cold water and air conditioner treatment, the hair cut with dull tourists' scissors.

  If one client's lawyer in a multi-defendant conspiracy case could leak information about the client's co-defendant or co-defendants, it would happen all the time. That was up to the client, whether to become a cooperator or not. And the prosecutors, high and mighty with their New York Magazine article as a script, had certainly never offered a plea or cooperator's deal to Larry Ray, unlike Goldman Sachs' Tim Leissner across the river in the EDNY.

  But what about Talia?

 Kandinsky had learned things about Talia during the trial that had him asking himself, as that on-edge blogger in the SDNY Press Room did, why the prosecutors hadn't tried to indict Talia. Much of the prostitution money sucked out of Claudia had been sent to Talia, by way of the loser candidate who hired her in North Carolina, Lowell Simon, then through a non-profit she worked for. That was just money laundering, and Kandinsky wondered why they at least hadn't been prosecuted.

  Maybe Talia could be viewed as a victim, less so than Isabella Pollok but without the plastic bag. But Lowell Simon? The guy took five thousand dollar contributions from Dominican cult followers in New York and turned the money over to Talia, with a cut taken out for himself.  Where was he now?

  And it went beyond living off the proceeds of Claudia Drury's forced prostitution. Kandinsky had learned that Talia had run her own prostitutes, driving south from Bronxville not to hotels in midtown but to rougher zones, under the 4 train on Jerome Avenue, and down in Hunts Point. It was an entire separate conspiracy. But she remained Larry Ray's daughter and Kandinsky had no right.

Or did he?

III.

    Claudia Drury's client list, which Kurt had been strongly encouraged if not ordered to take down from the Internet hours after he had put it up, had hedge funders and lawyers, artists, diplomats and tech executives.

  But those serviced by Talia Ray's stable went higher - or lower, as now in the marshes at the bottom of Hunts Point.

   There were tens of thousands of files on dozens of devices seized at Larry Ray's New Jersey home under the SDNY warrant. Most were turned over in discovery, and some were discovered later.

  As in the Nejad and Ahuja cases, some were never made public. But even if Larry Ray discovered it, would he fight to highlight a document that could take his own favorite daughter down? Would he turn on Talia as he had on his ex-wife, or on Bernie Kerik before that?

IV.  

  In a four story mansion in Manhattan a reclusive man watched the news of the dead woman found in The Bronx.

  It was not Jeffrey Epstein - sure Ghislaine Maxwell had been described telling his most artistic victim to watch out when she jogged by the river, but she was still around to say it - but the more corpulent Antonio Guterres. And the mansion was paid for not by Les Wexner but rather the public.

   As Secretary General of the United Nations Guterres had a hard job, he told himself. It took a hard man to do a hard job. His double chin was growing, jiggling while he pontificated about fossil fools at the UN Security Council stakeout and then left with security without taking any questions. But underneath he had the same drive as in Geneva, that long decade when Catalina had refused to move with him from Lisbon, and left him alone in a mansion.

  It was her fault, Guterres often thought, as he waited for those that UN Security would bring him. The specifics of this supply chain he didn't focus on. Something about Talia's List. And now this, a badly dumped body. Couldn't the UN do anything right?

V.

    It wasn't just that the UN's Big Tony club sometimes filmed themselves - sometimes, without their knowledge or ability to censor, they got filmed.

  It had happened in Tel Aviv, the white UN four by four of UNTSO, the sex in the van the video of which was published by the blogger Big Tony hated, and who in turn came to hate him.

   At first Tony's spokespeople ignored Kurt Wheelock's written questions - Big Tony has already had him thrown out and banned, but they'd said they'd answer in writing so it wasn't censorship - but then other media picked it up. Some credited Kurt and his website, or Twitter account.

  And so the same UN Office of Internal Oversight Services which had helped Tony cover up Fabrizio Hochschild's sexual assaults on the 38th floor was deployed, promising an investigation of what anyone with a laptop or cellphone could see.

  Three men, it was said, were being reassigned. With full pay, Kurt quickly pointed out. But for most of the media which had reported on the video, the case was closed.

  Now this: a body dumped in Hunts Point, and talk about a "Blue Plate Special," not meaning a diner deal but the blue license plate on diplomatic and UN vehicles. In his mansion Big Tony ranted, How stupid could they have been?  How stupid indeed. Kurt was digging into it. But of course, they were digging into him - and they had immunity. 

To be continued - and see Patreon here

***

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