A previously well-connected Republican donor was convicted on Friday of engaging teenage ladies with items, money and cash in change for intercourse.
A federal jury discovered Anton “Tony” Lazzaro, 32, responsible of seven counts involving “industrial intercourse acts” with 5 ladies aged 15 and 16 in 2020, when he was 30 years outdated.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 court docket on Monday to find out what property the federal government can seize based mostly on every conviction, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Lazzaro – who contends the costs towards him have been politically motivated – plans to enchantment, a spokesperson for his attorneys mentioned in an announcement to the Related Press.
“The weird utility of this federal intercourse trafficking statute to his actions is frighteningly broad, conflating what’s nothing greater than arguably an act of prostitution with federal intercourse trafficking,” Stacy Bettison mentioned. “He believes he has sturdy grounds for enchantment, and he’ll vigorously search reversal of his conviction. Mr Lazzaro trusts he will probably be vindicated.”
Lazzaro’s indictment led to the downfall of Jennifer Carnahan as chair of the Republican get together of Minnesota.
His co-defendant, 21-year-old Gisela Castro Medina, who previously led the College of St Thomas’s Faculty Republican chapter, pleaded responsible to 2 counts final yr. She testified towards Lazzaro.
Prosecutors argued through 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 “damaged”.
“He wished intercourse, and never simply any intercourse,” federal prosecutor Melinda Williams mentioned throughout closing arguments on Friday. “He wished intercourse with minor ladies below the age of 18. And he had a plan to get it.”
Lazarro’s legal professional, Daniel Gerdts, argued that the federal government’s “salacious” prosecution was based mostly on “utterly unfounded” allegations.
“The prosecution clearly disapproves of Mr Lazzaro’s playboy life-style,” Gerdts mentioned. “And admittedly, as the daddy of three daughters, so do I. The opprobrium is effectively deserved, however that’s not why we’re right here.”
Carnahan, the widow of former Minnesota Republican congressman Jim Hagedorn, resigned every week after the costs towards Lazzaro have been unsealed. She denied understanding about Lazzaro’s crimes however his arrest prompted outrage amongst get together activists.
Footage on Lazzaro’s social media accounts confirmed him with distinguished Republicans, together with ex-president Donald Trump and former vice-president Mike Pence. He gave greater than $270,000 to Republican campaigns and political committees through the years.