Former Republican donor Anton “Tony” Lazzaro was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison Wednesday for sex trafficking multiple minor girls.
“Anton Lazzaro was a predator who hid in plain sight. He was a sex trafficker who camouflaged his true nature with his wealth and privilege. Today, his crimes were laid bare, and justice was served,” prosecutors said in a statement following Lazzaro’s sentencing.
The 32-year-old Minneapolis Republican was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and five counts of sex trafficking minors following a 10-day trial in March.
During the trial, it was established that Lazzaro and coconspirator Gisela Castro Medina, who was the chair of the University of St. Thomas College Republicans, recruited minor girls between the ages of 15 and 16 to have sex with Lazzaro in exchange for cash and other items, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
Lazzaro directed Castro Medina to identify the victims, specifically telling her to find young “broken girls” with a petite body type and certain skin color, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Federal prosecutors said Castro Medina would show Lazzaro photographs of the minor girls and if Lazzaro “approved,” Castro Medina would then provide the minor’s contact information to Lazzaro. Castro Medina told the minors that Lazzaro was an older guy with a lot of money, and that he wanted to be a “sugar daddy” to younger girls. Castro Medina, who pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Lazzaro, was paid $50,000 for recruiting the victims. She will be sentenced in September. As part of her plea, she admitted that she and Lazzaro agreed to pay off a 15-year-old victim to prevent her from talking to law enforcement.
Lazzaro frequently sent Ubers to transport the victims to his luxury condo in the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis. In one case, he sent a driver to pick up a group of 14- and 15-year-old girls from a slumber party in St. Michael, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
When the victims arrived at his condo, he would give them alcohol, flash stacks of cash, and offer them money to perform various sex acts. He then would send them home with cash, vapes, alcohol, Plan B pills, and cellphones.
He carried out the sex trafficking scheme from May 2020 through December 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office explained.
At Lazzaro’s sentencing, Judge Patrick Schiltz described Lazzaro’s crimes as “soulless” and “mechanical,” like a “sex trafficking assembling line.” Lazzaro only showed remorse for two people, “himself and Jeffrey Epstein, who Mr. Lazzaro called ‘his brother,’” Schiltz said.
“Mr. Lazzaro targeted, manipulated, and sexually exploited young and vulnerable girls for his own gain without regard for their age or safety,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston. “Today’s sentencing sends a strong message that those who commit such heinous crimes will be held accountable. The FBI prioritizes crimes of victimization and will leave no stone unturned to protect the vulnerable and bring every perpetrator to justice.”