Anton Lazzaro hires new defense, argues for indictment to be tossed

A new team of attorneys for former Minnesota GOP operative Anton Lazzaro argued in court on Thursday for a judge to drop the indictment and several charges he faces in his sex trafficking case.

Anton "Tony" Lazzaro was charged last summer with five counts of sex trafficking of a minor, a count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, and another count of attempted sex trafficking, along with three counts of obstruction.

Anton Lazzaro is facing charges for sex trafficking of minors, according to an unsealed indictment.

In January, attorneys for Lazzaro filed motions to dismiss the indictment against Lazzaro over "selective prosecution" along with several charges. The defense is also looking to suppress evidence from seized electronic devices while seeking grand jury transcripts and any statements made by co-defendants or "unindicted co-conspirators."

Motions were heard Thursday afternoon in federal court. During Thursday's hearing, we learned that Lazzaro had fired his previous defense team and hired a number of new attorneys at the beginning of this month.

His attorneys argued a selective prosecution motion, saying the charges are discriminatory because Lazzaro is wealthy and young and is, therefore, a member of a "protected class"

Wearing an orange jumpsuit escorted by U.S. Marshals, Lazzaro appeared at the hearing. Also in attendance for the hearing was a woman believed to be his girlfriend.

In court, we also learned Lazzaro had been able to retrieve $370,000 in cash, gold bars, and other precious metals that had been seized by authorities. Lazzaro is still petitioning to get electronics from his apartment and his Ferarri back.

The case against Anton Lazzaro

Lazzaro was indicted on sex trafficking charges that prosecutors say happened between May 2020 and December 2020, and allegedly involved six unnamed victims under the age of 18. However, authorities said, based on evidence, they believed there were other victims.

Prosecutors accused Lazzaro of working with a St. Paul woman, who was also charged in the case, to recruit girls on social media for sex trafficking.

After his arrest, Lazzaro tried to get out of federal custody by offering to abide by "Truman Show" level monitoring.

Lazzaro's work with the Minnesota GOP

Lazzaro's arrest caused waves within Minnesota's Republican Party, most significantly for former chairman and current Congressional candidate Jennifer Carnahan.

Lazzaro founded Big Tent Republicans, a political action committee focused on making Republican inroads with people of color, LGBT groups, and women.

Lazzaro also served on the campaign team for Lacy Johnson, the Republican candidate challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar in the race for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District in 2020, federal elections documents detail. A podcast listing on the website Podbay also lists six episodes of a show Lazzaro worked on with Carnahan between October 2019 and January 2020.

Before his arrest, Lazzaro had contributed $42,000 to the Republican Party of Minnesota. The party vowed to donate those funds to charity.

Last year, after heavy criticism from within the party, Carnahan stepped down from her post at GOP chair.