Anton Lazzaro, a wannabe playboy on Instagram who used his riches to pump up the Minnesota Republican Party and recruit teenage girls for sex, was convicted by a Minnesota jury Friday of sex trafficking minors.
At trial, prosecutors laid out how Lazzaro preyed on “broken” girls—to which his defense lawyer countered were simply girls he was trying to “fix.” The victims testified that Lazzaro would take them to his swanky Minneapolis condo, where he’d ply them with Everclear, the strongest liquor on the market.
Lazzaro paid tens of thousands of dollars to have sex with high school students, and even used one as a recruiter. Days after his arrest in August 2021, the feds caught up with that associate, Gisela Castro Medina, and eventually turned her into a witness against him.
Lazzaro remained defiant from jail, borrowing a lame conservative talking point and chalking up the case to a political prosecution for his ties to the GOP.
Federal Election Commission records show Lazzaro donated to Republicans for nearly a decade, with his contributions ramping up sharply in 2016. He also played a bit part in former President Donald Trump’s anti-democratic attempts to remain in the White House after losing in 2020, as Lazzaro was on the shortlist of the Minnesota’s GOP slate of “alternate” presidential electors who could substitute for any missing delegates, according to state election records.
Online, he posed as a wealthy entrepreneur, sharing pictures of himself on private jets, waving stacks of cash, and driving shirtless in his red Ferrari. And he touted his Republican connections, using his personal website to display a picture of him alongside Trump, then-Vice President Mike Pence, and multiple television appearances on Fox News.
The court case, which lasted a year-and-a-half, underwent bizarre twists as Lazzaro turned on his lawyers and briefly represented himself, wasting time trying to get his Ferrari back instead of mounting an intelligent defense.
The Daily Beast first revealed in 2021 that the FBI had been investigating Lazzaro and had raided his apartment. When asked about his preying on teenage girls weeks before his arrest, he threatened to dox this reporter and run an online harassment campaign.
The Daily Beast also exclusively reported how a former Lazzaro business associate serving time in prison on drug charges tried to report details about Lazzaro’s predatory behavior to the FBI, only to be reprimanded by Bureau of Prison guards.
That ex-felon, Ben Freedland, finished serving his prison sentence and attended the trial. He told The Daily Beast he was most disturbed by Lazzaro’s strange obsession with another convicted predator who sexually abused teenage girls: Jeffrey Epstein.
“One of the wildest things to come out at trial is a social media post that Tony made on the one year anniversary of Jeff Epstein’s death: a picture of them together with a caption that said, ‘rest in peace brother,’” Freedland said.
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