Federal trial for former political strategist, donor charged with sex trafficking to begin this week
A Minneapolis man who had been a Republican strategist and donor is set to go on trial this week for federal sex trafficking charges.
Anton “Tony” Lazzaro is charged with seven counts involving commercial sex acts with minors. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Court records show Lazzaro has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Monday morning, and his trial is expected to begin Tuesday.
As 5 INVESTIGATES reported earlier this month, federal prosecutors have outlined their case against Lazzaro in great detail. They claim he would lure girls as young as 15 years old to his penthouse in downtown Minneapolis and would offer them alcohol and money in exchange for sex.
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Rachel Paulose — who served as US attorney for Minnesota — says the level of detail revealed outside the courtroom is unusual.
The defendant has been given a very clear picture of precisely what witnesses will testify at trial, the nature of their testimony and the type of evidence that will be offered against him.
Lazzaro has been jailed since his arrest and has been denied bail.
The charges he faces carry mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years — with a maximum potential of life in prison.
Lazzaro’s arrest rocked the Republican Party in Minnesota. It led to the return of thousands of dollars in campaign cash and the resignation of former party chair Jennifer Carnahan.
The federal case, according to the filing, centers around five minor victims. Prosecutors say they were recruited by Gisela Castro Medina.
In December, Medina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Prosecutors confirmed in the court filing that she is cooperating and will testify about her role at the trial. She is currently scheduled to be sentenced this summer.