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A retired political science professorwho was associated with elite Washington social circles, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges of stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from wealthy acquaintances.
Lawrence Gray sold at least seven stolen rare and valuable itemsincluding diamond earrings, a pink sapphire brooch and a 19th-century gold pocket watch, prosecutors said. They allege he made more than $45,000 by consigning the pieces to a Manhattan auction house.
“The defendant allegedly repeatedly sold stolen jewelry to enrich himself,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.
“New York’s status as a global hub for auction houses diminishes when goods are sold illegally,” he added.
Gray, 79, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan criminal court to charges of grand theft, criminal possession of stolen property and conspiracy to defraud.
Wearing a pink shirt and black blazer, gingerly leaning on a dark wooden cane, he refused to speak to reporters as he left the courtroom.
He was released without bail after agreeing to surrender his passport. He is due back in court on October 31, according to The Associated Press.
The indictment is the latest in a growing list of theft accusations against Gray, a former tenured professor at John Cabot University in Rome and the longtime romantic partner of the late Washington socialite Jacqueline Quillen.
In 2021, shortly after Quillen’s death, his children sued Gray, accusing him of stealing valuable family heirlooms, paintings, and cash. both Quillen and his friends, a wealthy group that included American diplomats, bankers and businessmen.
Later that year, Gray was arrested in Rhode Island on charges of stealing a $32,000 diamond and sapphire brooch during a wedding in Newport.
The family’s lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms; the Rhode Island case, in which Gray pleaded not guilty, is ongoing.
On Tuesday, Manhattan prosecutors said they had evidence connecting Gray to a series of robberies in New York, Virginia and several other states. Between 2016 and 2019, he sold the consignment goods to the Doyle Auction House on the Upper East Side, they said, adding that they are still working to locate some of the pieces that were sold.
A Doyle Auction House spokesman declined to comment, citing a company policy against discussing consignors.
Quillen, a Christie’s wine specialist and heir to a Wall Street fortune, had come to suspect that Gray was stealing from her and her friends, according to the lawsuit filed by her sons. She kept detailed notes on the lost property and finally broke off her relationship with Gray months before his death, the lawsuit alleges.