GOP donor Anton Lazzaro faces trial on costs of intercourse trafficking minors


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A beforehand well-connected Republican donor, accused of plying petite, inclined teenage girls with cash, liquor and gadgets, goes on trial Tuesday on federal costs of intercourse trafficking minors.

Anton “Tony” Lazzaro is charged with seven counts involving “commercial sex acts” with 5 minors ages 15 and 16 in 2020, when he was 30 years earlier. 

His indictment touched off a political firestorm that led to the downfall of Jennifer Carnahan as chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

His co-defendant, Gisela Castro Medina, who beforehand led the College Republicans chapter on the University of St. Thomas, pleaded accountable to 2 counts closing 12 months.

She is cooperating with prosecutors and may testify in the direction of him. She faces sentencing in August.

Lazzaro denies the sex-trafficking allegations.

He says the federal authorities targeted him for political causes and because of his wealth.

Prosecutors say it’s merely a sex-trafficking case.

They haven’t signaled any intent to call political figures as witnesses, nor has the safety.

US District Judge Patrick Schiltz has already rejected Lazzaro’s claims of selective prosecution.

But Lazzaro insists he’s innocent and that the charges are politically motivated.

“Mr. Lazzaro believes he is being targeted by the US Department of Justice for his political activities,” spokeswoman Stacy Bettison talked about in an announcement to The Associated Press.

“The unusual application of the federal sex trafficking statute to the facts in Mr. Lazzaro’s case supports his beliefs. He is not alone in his view that the US Department of Justice is politicizing prosecutions. Many other individuals, including many members of Congress and most recently the Senate Judiciary Committee, have recently raised legitimate and credible concerns that Attorney General (Merrick) Garland is politicizing the department by aggressively investigating Republicans and conservative activists, like Mr. Lazzaro.”

Carnahan is the widow of US Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died of kidney most cancers in February 2022.

She denied understanding of any wrongdoing by Lazzaro sooner than the charges had been unsealed in August 2021, and he or she condemned his alleged crimes.

But his arrest fueled outrage amongst social gathering activists. Allegations surfaced that she created a toxic work environment and abused nondisclosure agreements to silence her critics.

She resigned each week later.

Carnahan and Lazzaro grew to develop into associates when she ran unsuccessfully for a legislative seat in 2016.

He backed her bid to vary into social gathering chair in 2017 and attended her 2018 wedding ceremony ceremony to Hagedorn.

They hosted a podcast collectively for a pair of months.

Lazzaro moreover helped run the advertising and marketing marketing campaign of Republican Lacy Johnson, who didn’t unseat Democratic US Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, in 2020.

Pictures on Lazzaro’s social media accounts confirmed him with distinguished Republicans, along with former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.

He primarily based a political movement committee known as Big Tent Republicans, which advocated for a additional inclusive social gathering.

Lazzaro gave higher than $270,000 to Republican campaigns and political committees over time, along with $42,000 to the state social gathering group and $31,000 to Hagedorn’s advertising and marketing marketing campaign.

Several recipients quickly donated these contributions to charity after the charges grew to develop into public, along with US Rep. Tom Emmer, of Minnesota, who acquired $15,600 nonetheless suffered no repercussions.

Emmer grew to develop into majority whip in January.

Prosecutors alleged of their trial short-term earlier this month that Lazzaro conspired with Castro Medina and others to recruit 15- and 16-year-old girls to have intercourse with him in commerce for cash and helpful objects.

They met in May 2020 on a “sugar daddy” website when she was 18 years earlier and ending highschool, prosecutors wrote.

According to the short-term, Lazzaro had “a stated sexual preference for young, tiny girls” and favored them “broken” and inclined — nonetheless with out tattoos.

Prosecutors say he paid Castro Medina “well over $50,000,” along with money for her tuition, her off-campus residence and her Mini Cooper.

He often despatched vehicles to take the ladies to his luxurious penthouse rental on the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis, prosecutors talked about.

“Once the girls Castro Medina recruited arrived at Lazzaro’s apartment, a similar pattern ensued,” the short-term alleges. “Lazzaro would brag about his wealth and connections. He would give the girls — small and young — hard liquor. Lazzaro would take out stacks of cash and offer the girls precise sums of money to perform certain sex acts with him, and with each other. $100 to kiss. $400 for sex. And so forth. He would send them home with cash, vapes, alcohol, Plan B, cell phones, and other items of value.”

Plan B is a kind of emergency contraception.

Lazzaro will be the purpose of a lawsuit by one alleged sufferer who claims he equipped $1,000 in hush money to her and her dad and mother and requested them to sign a nondisclosure settlement.

The costs in the direction of Lazzaro, who has been jailed since his arrest and has been denied bail, carry essential minimal sentences of 10 years with a most potential of life in jail.

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