MINNEAPOLIS – A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to 252 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for orchestrating a sex trafficking conspiracy in which he trafficked multiple minor girls, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
The prosecution team, led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melinda Williams, Laura Provinzino and Emily Polachek, stated, “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.”
“Mr. Lazzaro targeted, manipulated, and sexually exploited young and vulnerable girls for his own gain without regard for their age or safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston Sr. “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.”
“While it cannot erase the harm Mr. Lazzaro has done, today’s sentence holds him accountable and sends a clear message that we do not tolerate this type of criminal behavior from anyone, regardless of their wealth or privilege,” said Superintendent Drew Evans of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
As proven at trial, Anton Joseph Lazzaro, a/k/a “Tony” Lazzaro, 32, conspired with Gisela Castro Medina, 21, to recruit young girls – 15-year-olds and 16-year-olds – to have sex with him in exchange for cash and other items of value. Lazzaro met Castro Medina in May of 2020 through the Seeking Arrangements website, which is known as a “sugar daddy” website. Lazzaro directed Castro Medina to identify girls she knew and others on social media who would have sex with him for money. Lazzaro specified that he was looking for young girls of a certain skin color, petite body type, and those who were considered vulnerable, referring to them as “broken girls.” Castro Medina would show Lazzaro photographs of minor girls and if Lazzaro “approved” Castro Medina would 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. For her role in recruiting multiple minor girls, Lazzaro paid Castro Medina more than $50,000.
As proven at trial, Lazzaro often sent cars, typically Ubers, to transport the minor girls to his luxury condo in the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis. At one point, Lazzaro sent a driver to pick up a group of 14-and 15-year-old girls from a slumber party in St. Michael, Minnesota. When minor girls came to his condo, Lazzaro would give them alcohol, flash stacks of cash, and offer the girls precise sums of money to perform various sex acts. Lazzaro would send the minor girls home with cash, vapes, alcohol, Plan B, cell phones, and other items of value. Lazzaro carried out this trafficking scheme from May 2020 through December 2020.
Following the execution of federal search warrants at Lazzaro’s condo on December 15, 2020, Lazzaro and Castro Medina discussed which of the minor victims spoke to law enforcement. As part of her guilty plea, Castro Medina admitted that in March 2021, she and Lazzaro agreed to pay off a 15-year-old victim to prevent her from talking to law enforcement about engaging in commercial sex with Lazzaro.
On March 31, 2023, following a 10-day trial before Chief Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, Lazzaro was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and five counts of sex trafficking of minors. Castro Medina pleaded guilty on December 19, 2022, to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and one count of obstruction. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 5, 2023.
In handing down the sentence, Chief Judge Schiltz commented on the “soulless, mechanical nature of Mr. Lazzaro’s crimes, like a sex trafficking assembly line,” adding that the only two people Mr. Lazzaro showed any remorse for were “himself and Jeffrey Epstein, who Mr. Lazzaro called ‘his brother.’”
This case is the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force – led by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the Minneapolis Police Department, the West Hennepin Public Safety Department, and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melinda A. Williams, Laura M. Provinzino, and Emily A. Polachek are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Baune is handling the seizure and forfeiture of assets.