Authorities are searching for a New York attorney in connection with the death of his girlfriend at the couple’s home in Montclair, New Jersey.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said James R. Ray III, 55, faces murder and weapons charges connected to the death of Angela Bledsoe, 44, who was found shot to death early Tuesday.
Ray remains at large, and is believed to be armed and dangerous, prosecutors said in a statement. Ray is believed to be driving a black, four-door BMW 328i with New Jersey license plate ZNX68M, according to prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Katherine Carter.
Police found Bledsoe after being called to the home for a wellness check. The couple’s young daughter was not injured and is in the care of family members.
Ray practiced at The Law Firm of Ray and Associates, on Fulton Street in Manhattan. His office is described on its website as a “full-service intellectual property, business and personal injury law firm.” He does not currently have any associates, according to a person who answered the phone there.
Ray has occasionally taken on high-profile cases. According to Newsday, he represented an alleged child sexual assault victim in 2017 in a lawsuit accusing Jelani Maraj, the brother of rapper Nicki Minaj, of sexual abuse. Testifying under subpoena, Ray said at a criminal trial for Maraj that he demanded $25 million to resolve his client’s case. Ray testified the child’s mother later fired him from the case, according to an Associated Press account.
But another cases in which he was a named party gives more insight into Ray’s personal life.
In April 2014, unhappy with the outcome of a dispute over tuition payments, Ray represented himself in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the New Jersey judge who presided over the case, Superior Court Judge Nancy Sivilli, and the attorney who represented his former wife, Leslie Renee Adams of Newark. But the defendants moved to dismiss, and the motions were granted in July 2014.
Ray claimed violations of his due process and equal protection rights, and asked the court to order that Sivilli “satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.” The suit took issue with Sivilli’s order calling for Ray to pay $10,000 for expert fees for his ex-wife, “without procedural due process.”
The suit also accused Sivilli of failing to properly investigate the finances of Ray’s ex-wife before issuing rulings in the case. And Ray accused Adams of vexatiously multiplying his litigation costs by asking the court to schedule proceedings when he had to make appearances for his own law practice.
Ray was also sued in April 2013 by a recent law school graduate who worked as a paralegal in his office. The paralegal claimed she was fired after rejecting his sexual advances.
That plaintiff, Sabrina Rafi, said in court papers that Ray “preyed on recent law school graduates” by using “the depressed market to take advantage of novices to the profession.” Rafi said Ray identified himself as a polygamist and announced his intention to make her his “third wife,” according to the complaint. The case was settled for $35,000 in December 2013, according to a court document.
Rafi, then a recent graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law, and awaiting admission to the New York bar, was required to work 50 to 55 hours per week at Ray’s firm in exchange for a salary of $800 a month, the suit said. At a firm dinner in a Korean restaurant, Ray insisted Rafi feed him food using chopsticks, which she considered embarrassing. At the dinner, he made repeated sexual advances and spoke at length about polygamy and pornography, and when she brought up her boyfriend, he said she should date older men such as himself.
Later, she began wearing multiple layers of clothing to work, so as to ensure her skin was completely covered, and took to wearing her coat in the office, which she said was the only way she could feel comfortable. Ray fired Rafi in February 2013 after expressing displeasure about her change of dress.