The doctor took his boat, the Sure Shot, from its moorings on Long Island, New York, late one morning in October, and steered it out into the Atlantic Ocean, toward where the tuna were biting and away from a world of growing problems.
Dr. Marvin Moy, a doctor in Manhattan, was a regular at the Center Yacht Club. Some partners who arrived from the city were seen as outsiders, but Moy moved easily in this world.
Then, in January, Moy was indicted in federal court in Manhattan, accused of insurance fraud through his medical practice. The government accused Moy and others of running a scam that involved bribing first responders and hospital staff to refer car accident victims to their pain offices. A conviction could lead to years in prison.
And he was divorcing his wife, after 14 almost completely difficult years. The lawsuit had dragged on for five years, and Moy had gone through several lawyers, still owing a firm more than $69,000, according to a lawsuit against him.
But on October 12, a calm and clear Wednesday, Moy planned to put all that behind him. She was heading to a popular area on the ocean called Hudson Canyon, a trip of about six hours. He took with him a new acquaintance, Max Wong, a 36-year-old nurse from New York City.
Night fell over the Sure Shot, and Wednesday night rolled into Thursday morning. Fishing over, Moy and Wong were heading back to the marina.
Then, shortly after midnight, a distress signal from Moy’s yacht sounded the alarm 40 km off the coast of Fire Island. The Coast Guard quickly dispatched pilots, who spotted an oil slick, a floating white beverage cooler, and a lone man—Wong.
But Moy was gone.
Two months later, prosecutors and people who knew him are still trying to figure out what happened. The friends at the marina had their theories; Wong gave an inconclusive account. The judge handling the case issued an arrest warrant for Moy, citing the possibility that he was not on the boat. Federal investigators said the investigation is ongoing.
“Who knows what happened?” said Roland Riopelle, a lawyer representing Bradley Pierre, who is accused along with Moy in the insurance fraud case. “As I sit here now, I have no reason to think he died in a boating accident or cleverly created a situation that looked like a boating accident and got away.”
a success story
In a way, Moy’s career in medicine began in a busy restaurant in Chinatown. Her father, a Chinese immigrant whose family had settled in nearby Mott Street, had owned it since he inherited it from his own parents.
Marvin, as a young boy, became a mediocre student after his parents divorced, he explained years later in a 2021 article on coffee, written by a Columbia University School of Journalism student and published on the Medium website.
But a single day of work as a dishwasher was illuminating: the family business was not for him. He became a disciplined student who later attended New York University and medical school in Buffalo, New York.
He graduated in 2004 and moved back to New York City, where he opened pain management clinics called Medical Now PC.
In 2007, he met a woman named Hanyue Zhu and they got married less than a year later. They settled into an apartment on the Upper West Side; soon, Zhu was pregnant.
Moy’s rise in life was radically halted just four months after his marriage, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The surgery in 2009 took a serious toll, turning Moy into a diabetic. He spent two months in a hospital.
But in his absence much has changed. His version of events is excerpted from an affidavit he filed in the divorce proceedings, obtained by The New York Times. Zhu declined to speak for this story.
Moy claimed his pregnant wife had taken her mother into the small apartment, forcing him to recover from surgery with his grandparents. He felt isolated.
He was trying to expand his practice but had little money. His wife convinced him, he later claimed, to enter into an arrangement with a financial company called Medical Reimbursement Consultants. The partnership with the company and its owner, Pierre, was the beginning of years of problems.
A rescue and a mystery
When the coast guard rescue team arrived, they quickly pulled Wong out of the sea. He was seriously wounded in the face, but escaped more serious injuries and was conscious.
He told researchers that the boat had been hit by a much larger craft and that Moy was alive the last time he saw him.
The search for Moy continued throughout the 13th and until the 14th of October. At 1:03 pm on Friday, the Coast Guard posted on Twitter: “#Update: Search for missing person has been suspended.”
A few days later, Moy’s disappearance was met with skepticism at a hearing in Manhattan.
“The government requests that the court issue a restraining order,” said the prosecutor in the case, Mathew Andrews.
The judge, Paul G. Gardephe, agreed: “It may be that Dr. Moy has died, but as I understand it, his body has not been recovered, so that leaves open the possibility that he is voluntarily absent from the proceedings today. “.
Two months later, the lack of evidence only heightened suspicions.
“The government’s investigation into the disappearance of Dr. Moy is ongoing,” said Nicholas V. Biase, spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, last week.
Away from the Manhattan courthouses, however, the men who know little about the doctor’s legal troubles but much about his skills and habits at sea are certain they know what happened that night.
The deal between Moy and his new business partner worked like this: Medical Reimbursement Consultants would pay Moy’s practice up front 35% of new claims—quick money, right away. Then, when the insurance company paid out in the future, the Medical Reimbursement Advisers would take it all.
At first glance, the arrangement, known as “factoring,” may seem lopsided. But Moy rationalized that he needed money.
In the course of that deal, prosecutors would later charge, Moy was also involved in a conspiracy to lure tens of thousands of car accident victims into his and other doctors’ offices. The ringleader of this $70 million-plus venture, according to a 2022 federal indictment, was Pierre, the man who kept Moy cash with the 35% rule.
Court records suggest that, as criminal charges came in this year, Moy turned against Pierre. In meetings with investigators, Moy “made damaging admissions to the prosecution team” and told them that, in fact, Pierre ran his medical practice, according to a motion filed by Pierre’s lawyers to file a separate lawsuit.
His wife had filed for divorce years before and Moy had moved to another apartment in the same building, where he lived alone.
In the spring of this year, Moy was cut off from his life and routines, unable to practice medicine while he awaited the judgment of his case.
A sanctuary at sea
More and more, Moy sought solace in the only place that seemed unchanged: his boat.
His friends at the marina said he usually left his legal problems in town. “You keep your personal stuff to yourself — that’s what he does,” said George Harned, 41, a fisherman and captain of a freight boat.
Still, the case was taking its toll. “He was definitely stressed,” said one of his oldest friends, John Chase.
In October, Moy reached out to at least four friends with an invitation to join him on the Hudson Canyon trip. For this type of tour, a team of four is ideal, with two people awake at all times. This was especially important to Moy.
Diabetes, on some trips, drained his energy and, on the long and monotonous stretches in transit at sea, he would go down to the cabin and nap, leaving the navigation to one or more companions.
But for this trip the four friends refused.
So, on October 12, Moy ventured out with a single crewmate—Wong, a newcomer to the marina.
For the men at the marina, Wong had a lot of questions to answer. He was out of reach in a hospital, but Harned texted him.
“You need to clear yourself,” he wrote.
Wong told his version of events.
“I got seasick towards the end of the trip and stopped fishing. The trip ended early,” he wrote, according to screenshots of the conversation. He said he fell asleep on a bench and heard no warning: “The impact woke me up and there was debris flying everywhere. He told me he was injured. I tried calling ‘SOS’ but all the electronics were off.”
The boat sank with Wong clinging to the case containing the inflatable life raft and Moy to a circular buoy. Wong wrote: “The last word I heard from him was ‘Max, are you okay?'”
This account, to Moy’s friends, seemed dubious to say the least. Instead, the doctor’s friends were considering their own theory—painfully dark, but one that answered their lingering questions.
They wonder if Moy, after a long day and night at sea, returned to his cabin bed and fell asleep. If that had happened, Wong was expected to man the controls. But he said in the texts that he was sleeping.
The boat’s autopilot function was likely engaged, with its radar showing what was nearby. Had he indicated a nearby ship and gone unnoticed?
Wong, responding to a reporter’s call in November, said, “I won’t comment.”
If the Sure Shot were to hit a commercial vessel at cruising speed, the impact would be instantly devastating.
It is unclear whether a new search for Moy’s body will take place. The coast guard has told Moy’s lawyers that he will not be pronounced dead until their investigation determines that he is dead.
The investigation remains open. A coastguard spokesman said the information provided by the surviving passenger — Wong — about a collision could not be verified. No ships reported hitting another boat in that area that morning.
And so two worlds are waiting. In different courthouses in Manhattan, two lengthy lawsuits — one criminal and one civil — are stalled for lack of a defendant.
I have worked as a journalist for over 8 years. I have written for many different news outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and CNN. I have also published my own book on the history of the world. I am currently a freelance writer and editor, and I am always looking for new opportunities to write and edit interesting content.