NOT A DRAG QUEEN
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A formerly well-connected GOP donor convicted of giving teenage girls gifts, alcohol and money in exchange for sex was sentenced Wednesday to 21 years in prison on sex trafficking charges.
Anton “Tony” Lazzaro was found guilty in March by a federal jury of seven counts involving “commercial sex acts” with five girls ages 15 and 16 in 2020, when Lazzaro was 30. The charges carried mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years with a maximum of life in prison.
Prosecutors had requested a 30-year sentence for Lazzaro. They likened Lazzaro to financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested in 2019 on federal charges accusing him of paying underage girls for massages and then abusing them at his homes in Florida and New York. The defense asked for no more than 10 years.
“He’s a sex trafficker,” prosecutor Laura Provinzino said. “One who has shown absolutely no remorse. He has accepted no responsibility for his crimes.”
U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz came down in the middle and had harsh words for Lazzaro.
He said Lazzaro showed sympathy to only two people during the trial — “to himself and Jeffrey Epstein.” And the judge said he was struck by the “soulless, almost mechanical nature” of how Lazzaro exploited the girls.
His co-defendant, Gisela Castro Medina, who was 19 at the time, formerly led the College Republicans chapter at the University of St. Thomas. She pleaded guilty to two counts last year. She testified against Lazzaro and faces sentencing in September.
Prosecutors argued during his trial that Lazzaro enlisted Castro Medina, who he initially paid for sex, to recruit other teenagers — preferably minors — who were white, small, vulnerable or “broken.” He often sent cars to take the girls to his luxury penthouse condo at the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis, they said.
One of the victims called Lazzaro a child predator in court Wednesday and said she continues to be impacted by his actions. “I still see him in my nightmares, in my panic attacks, in men in their thirties. … Putting Tony behind bars will save so many girls,” she said.