Six members of a gang that preyed on gay men at Hell’s Kitchen nightclubs have been indicted over the “roofie” murders of John Umberger and Julio Ramirez last year.
Warrants were issued Friday afternoon for the arrest of three of the men for first-degree murder, while all six men have been hit with charges of grand larceny and first-degree robbery as well as conspiracy to drug and rob at least a dozen victims.
Umberger, 33, and Ramirez, 25, died from “acute intoxication” from a mix of fentanyl, cocaine, ethanol and other drugs, the city Medical Examiner found on March 3.
Both men were victims of homicides caused by “drug-facilitated thefts,” after leaving the Q NYC and Ritz Bar and Lounge gay nightclubs, the ME found.
Umberger’s mother Linda Clary paid tribute to NYPD Detective Randy Rose for cracking the case after he connected the deaths of her son and Ramirez. Rose realized a gang was operating in Hell’s Kitchen gay clubs, drugging victims and using cash apps on their phones to steal tens of thousands of dollars from their bank accounts.
“Without the hard work and dedication of NYPD Detective Randy Rose and countless others we would be nowhere,” Clary said.
“Detective Rose has been the greatest blessing in this tragedy. He is professional, committed and excellent at his job. I wish there were more of him.”
Umberger, a Washington, DC, political consultant, disappeared on Saturday, May 28, 2022, after a night out at The Q NYC, a gay nightclub at 795 Eighth Ave, while visiting New York for work.
His credit card was used around 3 a.m. at the club and he was last seen an hour later on a surveillance camera with three unidentified men in a car outside the Upper East Side townhouse where he was staying.
His body was found four days later, on June 1, in a fifth-floor apartment of a townhouse at 34 E. 61st St., which is owned by conservative lawyer Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice, where Umberger was director of diplomacy and political programs.
His cellphone and credit cards were missing. More than $25,000 had been transferred out of his accounts through cash apps on his phone such as Venmo and PayPal.
Five weeks earlier, on Thursday, April 21, in similar circumstances, Brooklyn social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, was found dead in the back of a taxi on the Lower East Side at about 4 am.
An hour earlier he had been captured by a security camera with three unidentified men leaving the Ritz Bar and Lounge, a gay club on West 46th Street, two blocks from Q NYC.
Like Umberger, Ramirez’ phone and wallet were missing, and his bank accounts had been emptied of about $20,000 via apps such as Venmo and Zelle; later his credit cards were maxed out on expensive dinners and spa services.