MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A previously well-connected GOP donor was convicted Friday of engaging teenage ladies with presents, money and cash in change for intercourse.
A federal jury discovered Anton “Tony” Lazzaro, 32, responsible of seven counts involving “commercial sex acts” with 5 ladies ages 15 and 16 in 2020, when he was 30 years outdated. The costs carry obligatory minimal sentences of 10 years with a most of life in jail.
The jury will return to courtroom Monday to find out what property the federal government can seize primarily based on every conviction, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Lazzaro, who contends the fees towards him have been politically motivated, plans to enchantment, a spokeswoman for his attorneys stated in a press release to The Related Press.
“The unusual application of this federal sex trafficking statute to his activities is frighteningly broad, conflating what is nothing more than arguably an act of prostitution with federal sex trafficking,” Stacy Bettison stated. “He believes he has strong grounds for appeal, and he will vigorously seek reversal of his conviction. Mr. Lazzaro trusts he will be vindicated.”
His co-defendant, 21-year-old Gisela Castro Medina, who previously led the College Republicans chapter at the University of St. Thomas, pleaded responsible to 2 counts final 12 months. She testified towards Lazzaro.
Prosecutors argued throughout the trial that Lazzaro enlisted Medina, who he initially paid for intercourse, to recruit different youngsters — ideally minors — who have been white, small, susceptible or “broken.”
“He wanted sex, and not just any sex,” Assistant U.S. Lawyer Melinda Williams stated throughout closing arguments Friday. “He wanted sex with minor girls under the age of 18. And he had a plan to get it.”
Lazarro’s legal professional, Daniel Gerdts, argued that authorities’s “salacious” prosecution was primarily based on “completely unfounded” allegations.
“The prosecution clearly disapproves of Mr. Lazzaro’s playboy lifestyle,” Gerdts stated. “And frankly, as the father of three daughters, so do I. The opprobrium is well deserved, but that is not why we’re here.”
Carnahan, the widow of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, resigned per week after the fees towards Lazzaro have been unsealed. She denied understanding about Lazzaro’s crimes however his arrest prompted outrage amongst celebration activists.
Footage on Lazzaro’s social media accounts confirmed him with distinguished Republicans, together with former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. He gave greater than $270,000 to Republican campaigns and political committees through the years.