NEW YORK (AP) — A New York woman on Wednesday admitted to laundering money made from an ex-convict’s plot to extort and force into labor or prostitution some women he met at his daughter’s on-campus housing at Sarah Lawrence College.
Isabella Pollok, 31 — herself a graduate of the Westchester County school — entered a guilty plea to a money laundering conspiracy charge in Manhattan federal court, admitting that she understood that some of the money that was laundered was generated by sex trafficking.
The plea came five months after Lawrence Ray was convicted of using threats and violence to force his daughter’s schoolmates into working for him and enriching him with millions of dollars for most of a decade.
Ray, 62, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1, when he could face up to life in prison. Pollok faces up to five years in prison and a fine ranging from $30,000 to $300,000 when she is sentenced in February by Judge Lewis J. Liman.
During Ray’s trial, prosecutors said he was able to carry out his crimes with help from his daughter and Pollok after befriending the young adults in late 2010, casting himself as a fatherly figure who could help them overcome their problems. His daughter was not charged in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Bracewell said during Pollok’s plea proceeding that the government would have used much of the same evidence that was disclosed at Ray’s trial if Pollok had chosen to proceed to trial.
During Ray’s trial, jurors were shown portions of video and audio recordings in which Ray convinced college students that they had harmed him and his property and owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. He also convinced some of them to admit they had tried to poison him.
One woman testified at his trial that she became convinced she had tried to poison him and paid Ray $2.5 million from her proceeds as a prostitute after he persuaded her to sell herself to men to try to compensate him.
As part of her plea, Pollok was required to admit that she knew that some of the money she was conspiring to launder from 2014 to 2019 was generated by unlawful activities including sex trafficking.
Bracewell said it was unclear whether Pollok might be required in the future to register as a sex offender in some states, depending on their rules.
David Bertan, a lawyer for Pollok, said outside court that her lawyers were pleased that the plea agreement reached last month will allow his client “to move forward with her life.”
Pollok did not speak to reporters as she left the courtroom.