‘It should have never happened.’ Co-conspirator testifies in Lazzaro sex trafficking trial

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Jurors heard the testimony of only one witness on Thursday in the federal sex trafficking trial of Anton “Tony” Lazzaro.

Gisela Castro Medina, Lazzaro’s indicted co-conspirator, spent the entire day on the stand, detailing the alleged scheme in which she says she recruited young women for sex.

Lazzaro, 32, pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking of minors and obstruction.

Castro Medina was 18 years old when she met Lazzaro through a “sugar daddy” website. She told jurors that she and a friend went to his condo at the Hotel Ivy in May 2020, where Lazzaro gave them alcohol, had sex with them and then sent them home with cash.

A few weeks later, Castro Medina said, Lazzaro asked her to find girls for him. She told the jury he had specific tastes.

“Over time, I learned he wanted younger girls, around 16 and up,” Castro Medina said. “He preferred what he calls ‘broken girls.’ Sluts. Whores.”

In exchange, Castro Medina testified that Lazzaro supported her financially. Prosecutors introduced evidence that shows dozens of Venmo transactions. Castro Medina estimated she received close to $10,000 in cash from the defendant in 2020. He also paid her college tuition, her rent and gave her $11,000 cash to buy a car.

Castro Medina described Lazzaro as a “father figure,” who praised her for her accomplishments, but who would also “shun” her if she wasn’t sending enough pictures of girls. She described feeling isolated and dependent on Lazzaro.

“He became my whole world,” she told the jury. “The moment I woke up, I was talking to Tony… if he said something along the lines of ‘I don’t like this,’ I didn’t like it either. I was very influenced by Tony.”

When asked about the situation now, she told the jurors she thinks it’s “disgusting” and that it should have never happened.

Defense attorneys spent hours cross-examining Castro Medina, pointing out to jurors that she took a plea deal and testified in exchange for a likely-reduced prison sentence.