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
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
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
"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."
* * *
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.
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
could be a good new project, while waiting for
the next big SDNY or EDNY trial.
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
what about Talia?
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?
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?
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.
those serviced by Talia Ray's stable went
higher - or lower, as now in the marshes at
the bottom of Hunts Point.
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.
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
four story mansion in Manhattan a reclusive
man watched the news of the dead woman found
in The Bronx.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.