MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A previously nicely-related Republican donor, accused of plying petite, susceptible teenage women with funds, liquor and items, goes on demo Tuesday on federal costs of sexual intercourse trafficking minors.
Anton “Tony” Lazzaro is billed with 7 counts involving “commercial sexual intercourse acts” with 5 minors ages fifteen and sixteen in 2020, when he was thirty a long time previous. His indictment touched off a political firestorm that led to the downfall of Jennifer Carnahan as chair of the Republican Social gathering of Minnesota.
His co-defendant, Gisela Castro Medina, who previously led the University Republicans chapter at the College of St. Thomas, pleaded responsible to two counts final 12 months. She is cooperating with prosecutors and will testify versus him. She faces sentencing in August.
Lazzaro denies the sexual intercourse-trafficking allegations. He suggests the govt focused him for political motives and since of his prosperity.
Prosecutors say it is merely a sexual intercourse-trafficking circumstance. They have not signaled any intent to phone political figures as witnesses, nor has the protection. U.S. District Decide Patrick Schiltz has by now turned down Lazzaro’s statements of selective prosecution.
But Lazzaro insists he’s harmless and that the costs are politically determined.
“Mr. Lazzaro thinks he is staying focused by the U.S. Division of Justice for his political actions,” spokeswoman Stacy Bettison claimed in a assertion to The Linked Push. “The strange software of the federal sexual intercourse trafficking statute to the info in Mr. Lazzaro’s circumstance supports his beliefs. He is not on your own in his check out that the U.S. Division of Justice is politicizing prosecutions. Quite a few other persons, such as a lot of associates of Congress and most lately the Senate Judiciary Committee, have lately lifted legit and credible issues that Lawyer Basic (Merrick) Garland is politicizing the division by aggressively investigating Republicans and conservative activists, like Mr. Lazzaro.”
Carnahan is the widow of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died of kidney most cancers in February 2022. She denied figuring out of any wrongdoing by Lazzaro ahead of the costs were being unsealed in August 2021, and she condemned his alleged crimes. But his arrest fueled outrage between occasion activists. Allegations surfaced that she designed a poisonous perform atmosphere and abused nondisclosure agreements to silence her critics. She resigned a 7 days afterwards.
Carnahan and Lazzaro turned buddies when she ran unsuccessfully for a legislative seat in 2016. He backed her bid to turn out to be occasion chair in 2017 and attended her 2018 wedding ceremony to Hagedorn. They hosted a podcast jointly for a handful of months.
Lazzaro also assisted operate the marketing campaign of Republican Lacy Johnson, who unsuccessful to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, in 2020. Images on Lazzaro’s social media accounts confirmed him with outstanding Republicans, such as previous President Donald Trump and previous Vice President Mike Pence. He established a political motion committee named Major Tent Republicans, which advocated for a additional inclusive occasion.
Lazzaro gave additional than $270,000 to Republican strategies and political committees about the a long time, such as $forty two,000 to the point out occasion group and $31,000 to Hagedorn’s marketing campaign. Numerous recipients swiftly donated individuals contributions to charity following the costs turned community, such as U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, of Minnesota, who obtained $fifteen,600 but experienced no repercussions. Emmer turned bulk whip in January.
Prosecutors alleged in their demo quick previously this thirty day period that Lazzaro conspired with Castro Medina and some others to recruit fifteen- and sixteen-12 months-previous women to have sexual intercourse with him in trade for funds and beneficial things. They satisfied in Could 2020 on a “sugar daddy” site when she was eighteen a long time previous and ending large university, prosecutors wrote.
In accordance to the quick, Lazzaro experienced “a mentioned sexual choice for younger, small girls” and preferred them “broken” and susceptible — but with no tattoos. Prosecutors say he paid out Castro Medina “well about $fifty,000,” such as cash for her tuition, her off-campus condominium and her Mini Cooper.
He frequently despatched autos to acquire the women to his luxurious penthouse condominium at the Resort Ivy in downtown Minneapolis, prosecutors claimed.
“Once the women Castro Medina recruited arrived at Lazzaro’s condominium, a comparable sample ensued,” the quick alleges. “Lazzaro would brag about his prosperity and connections. He would give the women — smaller and younger — tough liquor. Lazzaro would acquire out stacks of funds and offer you the women specific sums of cash to complete particular sexual intercourse functions with him, and with just about every other. $a hundred to kiss. $four hundred for sexual intercourse. And so forth. He would mail them residence with funds, vapes, liquor, Prepare B, mobile telephones, and other things of benefit.” Prepare B is a variety of unexpected emergency beginning handle.
Lazzaro is also the goal of a lawsuit by one particular alleged target who statements he made available $1,000 in hush cash to her and her moms and dads and questioned them to indication a nondisclosure arrangement.
The costs versus Lazzaro, who has been jailed considering that his arrest and has been denied bail, have necessary minimal sentences of ten a long time with a greatest likely of lifetime in jail.
The resources of Lazzaro’s prosperity are murky. Protection filings have named him “an up-and-coming genuine estate proprietor and entrepreneur.” Products seized from him involved a 2010 Ferrari and additional than $371,000 in funds. The govt set his internet worthy of in a bond report at additional than $2 million but claimed its calculations did not consist of his “extensive” but tough-to-trace cryptocurrency holdings. It famous that the look for yielded numerous sorts of international forex, as well as treasured metals worthy of additional than $five hundred,000.