Sunday, 2 February 2003

The Truth About Vox

Lance Schotte works at night, so he wasn't quite awake when some three dozen Secret Service agents and Suffolk County police officers stormed into his apartment at 10 a.m.

"I woke up to this huge banging noise—it sounded like people were pounding on the back door, the front door and the side door simultaneously," recalls the Islip resident. "I opened the door. I wasn't expecting what happened."

It was December 13 when a handful of unmarked cars and a couple of cruisers pulled up in front of the house where Schotte, a computer programmer for a Nassau online retailer, rented a one-bedroom apartment. Not knowing what was up, he opened the door. "Five or six of them got in my face. 'SHOW ME I.D.' is what they kept saying," says Schotte. "I said, 'Who are you?' They just kept saying 'SHOW ME I.D.'"

Schotte asked for a search warrant.

"We don't need one, you let us in," was the reply. He was confined to his living room and hammered with a barrage of questions, while elsewhere agents rifled through his closets and drawers.

"The whole time, I was asking, 'What is this about?' They were extremely belligerent, they were hostile, in demeanor, in attitude, in intrusiveness." Schotte assumed the agents were looking for an escaped criminal, so at first he was cooperative. But when his I.D. didn't placate them, he began to suspect the search had something to do with his landlord, who owned the house but lived in various places.

"Right before they left, they said, 'We want to talk with Stuckey,'" he says. That would be Mr. Harry "Vox" Stuckey, the 39-year-old founder of VoxNyc.com. Scion of a staunchly Republican New York family, Vox was once considered for grooming as a potential Republican congressional candidate. By his own account he made a mint working in commercials instead, renting out his equipment and creative expertise at high prices through the high-flying '90s. Pressed, he admits to creating a very successful advertising campaign for global financial house ING Barings.

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