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RW Professional Trial Day “Ten”

By Christopher Menkin

After the original arrest on June 21, 2002, the trial of Barry Drayer and Stephen Parker enters its tenth day.

Leasing News has followed this not just from the date forty FBI agents raided the offices of RW Professional Leasing in Island Park, NY, but as part of the Sierra Cities/First Sierra portfolio and leads to CIT, Vanguard Leasing and Old Kent (several stories co-written with Charlie Lester.)

As the leasing industry has become more weird, or perhaps is our way of life has become more weird, this chapter has several new twists and turns that makes it appear not to be reality, but a television comedy series.

Originally, it was about money, around $9 million. It has grown to perhaps $100 million dollars in contention, counting what the FBI claims, the American Express Business Finance law suit, Crawford and other community banks, plus the $38 million the Bank of New York was charged for its “money laundering” by a specific person, setting up phony bank accounts, working with RW Professional on the scheme.

Add to this, the personality of Barry Drayer, 66, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, who now claims in court he was “just a salesman.” The fact he reportedly “skated” through similar leasing company gambits doesn't seem to faze him. However, this is not funny to learn your immediate relatives, brother, sister, and nephew, turns evidence against you in court.

His sister Rochelle Besser, 69, the official president of now defunct leasing company, his brother, Roger, 63, and nephew Adam Drayer, a company computer technician and Roger's son, all have sworn to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Brothers, sisters and nephews do not have the same immunity from testifying against each other as would a spouse.

They were originally facing a 30 years in jail sentence, found out the evidence against them, perhaps even didn't fully understand what was going on, and evidently turned state's evidence for a reduced sentence.

Drayer, on paper was the former senior vice president of the now-defunct RW Professional Leasing Services in Island Park (his sister was the de facto president, as stated earlier), went through several lawyers and a large amount of money, evidently requiring a court appointed attorney. Each time, it gained more time to put the case together, and also to find out if witnesses were still going to testify. The stall had worked before as bankers moved on to different companies and players did too. It did to a part here, too, as Drayer also outlasted the original US lead attorney Geoffrey Richard Kaiser who moved upward, Leasing News was told.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Lacewell was brought in, got up to par, and now is handling the case in its tenth day. All she could tell Leasing News: “Trial is still underway. I really cannot say anything further.”

None of the attorneys involved returned our telephone call or e-mails.

The second defendant in the trial, Stephen Barker, 42, of Lake Forest, Calif., is president of Carefree Financial Service, a broker/lessor, charged with conspiracy. As reported earlier, Drayer tried to have Barker tried in a separate trial, not included in his case. The main reason: Barker originally spilled the beans to the FBI, telling all, as his intention was that he was following what he was told to do as he considered his company representing RW Professional on the West Coast. His testimony is quite incriminating and explains how Drayer put it together and how the Ponzi style scheme worked.

Barker sincerely believes he was following directions; what he was doing was kosher.

Here is what Barker told the FBI: