Jury chosen in Lazzaro sex trafficking trial
A jury has been selected for the trial of a former GOP donor and strategist from Minnesota who was charged with sex trafficking and obstruction.
Prosecutors say Anton “Tony” Lazzaro recruited teenage girls to have sex with him in exchange for cash and other valuable items. The grand jury indictment also accuses him of attempting to interfere with the testimony of one of the minor victims.
The 32-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges after his indictment in the summer of 2021.
The court confirmed opening statements and testimony will begin Wednesday morning.
Chief Judge Patrick Schiltz questioned dozens of prospective jurors Tuesday and dismissed 15 individuals for cause. Late in the afternoon, prosecutors and Lazzaro’s defense attorneys then whittled down the remaining list to a group of 16 jurors. Four individuals will be chosen at the conclusion of the trial as alternates.
The panel is made up of nine women and seven men, with ages ranging from early 20s to late 60s. A spokesperson for the court said the pool was larger than usual because of the high-profile nature of the case.
Because the trial is in federal court, jurors are pulled from all over the state. While the majority are located in and around the Twin Cities metro, there are jurors on the panel from small southern Minnesota towns and one from as far away as Granite Falls.
According to a recent filing by prosecutors, jurors will likely hear from five alleged victims who were 15 and 16-years-old at the time. Lazzaro’s co-conspirator, Gisela Castro Medina, is also expected to testify. In December, Castro Medina pled guilty to sex trafficking and obstruction.
Lazzaro’s arrest made headlines because of his political ties. Campaign finance records show he’s donated thousands of dollars to GOP candidates in Minnesota and contributed money to the state Republican party.