NEW YORK (PIX11) — The mother of political consultant John Umberger, who was found dead in June several days after leaving a gay club, said she was notified Friday evening by NYPD investigators that six gang members have been indicted, some for felony murder, in connection with a robbery ring that killed her son and other victims with a fatal cocktail of drugs.
Arrest warrants were issued, but it’s believed no arrests have been made.
“I know without a shadow of a doubt there are more deaths,” Linda Clary, Umberger’s mother, told PIX11 News Sunday, confirming being notified about the indictments.
The New York Post, NewsNation, and the New York Daily News reported on the sealed criminal charges involving Umberger’s death and that of social worker Julio Ramirez, who was discovered lifeless in the back of a cab last April. None of the news outlets had a comment from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
When PIX11 News contacted Bragg’s office on Sunday, spokesperson Doug Cohen responded, “We cannot comment or confirm. Indictments are under seal until arraignment in court.”
A grand jury had met in the last week to consider evidence against suspects connected to Kenwood Allen, who was indicted in December on felony murder charges in connection with the deaths of two young men who overdosed after leaving downtown Manhattan clubs.
Also in December, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said at least six people had died after they were victimized by drug-facilitated thefts, while another 24 people survived the druggings.
In Umberger’s case, more than $23,000 was removed from his bank accounts after he was seen leaving The Q NYC in Hell’s Kitchen on May 28 sandwiched between two men. He was also seen with some men entering his boss’ townhouse on East 61st Street before his body was found on June 1.
Ramirez had nearly $20,000 taken from his bank accounts in the hours and days after his April 21 death. He was last seen getting into a taxi with three men outside Ritz Bar.
Umberger’s mother said the killers used facial recognition technology to access the banking apps of victims on their phones. She said it’s time to change how people access accounts on their devices.
“Go back to old school,” Linda Clary said Sunday. “No facial recognition technology.”
Clary lashed out at the city for not doing more to warn clubgoers about the drugging danger in the spring last year.
“We pay the salaries of these people who are supposed to be looking out for us,” Clary fumed. “They were not doing anything if I had not gone to the media.”
Clary, who is active in Republican politics — as her son was — made a campaign commercial for New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin several days before the November general election. She was upset about Democratic policies in the state, especially pertaining to bail laws. But Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul won a full term in office.
PIX11 News has been reporting on the club druggings since last spring, learning early on that several robbery crews were thought to be operating in different parts of Manhattan.
“It appears the gangs have agreed on ‘turf areas,'” Clary said.
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner released the toxicology reports for Umberger and Ramirez on the same day in early March, more than nine months after their deaths. Umberger and Ramirez both had fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, ethanol, and lidocaine in their systems.
On Friday, the medical examiner revealed there was another victim of drug-facilitated theft —fashion designer Katie Gallagher — who had dressed Lady Gaga and actress Laverne Cox. Gallagher, 35, was found dead in bed in her Eldridge Street apartment on July 24. No suspect has been named in her death.
A law enforcement source told PIX11 News the grand jury that was meeting in Manhattan this past week was also considering the cases of two victims who died in Manhattan but were dumped in the Riverdale section of the Bronx last year.
Clary gave credit to NYPD Det. Randy Rose of Manhattan North Homicide for piecing together information indicating the deaths of Ramirez and Umberger were related.