Anton Lazzaro found guilty of sex trafficking minors

It took a federal jury only a few hours to decide Anton Lazzaro was guilty of all counts against him, capping off an eight-day trial that followed a two-and-a-half-year investigation and legal case.

Lazzaro, 32, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and five counts of sex trafficking of minors.

After the verdict, Assistant US Attorney Melinda Williams, one of three federal prosecutors and the one who made the final argument to jurors, called Lazzaro a predator, "and his type is particularly dangerous," she said.

Noting that sex trafficking takes on a variety of forms, said Lazzaro was one "who presented themselves as helpful and kind and generous when in reality all Anton Lazzaro wanted to do was purchase sex with young girls."

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Closing arguments came Friday morning, with Williams telling jurors that "the defendant enticed, recruited, and you know now, obtained each of these minors."

"He bought them," she said. "Sex for cash. This for that."

All five victims testified before jurors about meeting Lazzaro in the summer of 2020.  One was 15 at the time, the other four were 16.  They said they were connected to Lazzaro through Snapchat, being told that he was a Sugar Daddy looking to meet Sugar Babies.

They all said they were lured to meet Lazzaro with the promise of expensive gifts and money.  And all said they only agreed to have sex with him because of the promise of more.

There were numerous pictures of both Lazzaro and some of the alleged victims with cash. During closing, the prosecution replayed one video, which had been recovered from Snapchat, of one of the victims counting a handful of $100 bills.

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The prosecution received additional evidence earlier in the week from a former Lazzaro business associate in Texas, which was extracted from that man’s phone and shown to jurors less than a day after the man tipped them off about it.

In a statement, a rep for Lazzaro said he would seek an appeal in the case.

Among the images extracted, a message exchange in which Lazzaro wrote "RIP my brother" next to a picture of notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Lazzaro.  The message came on the one-year anniversary of Epstein’s death.

US Attorney Andy Luger said in his nearly four decades of prosecution, he’d never seen evidence come in during a trial.

The investigation into Lazzaro began in the fall of 2020 after the mother of one of the 16-year-old victims grew suspicious of her new iPhone and large deposits into her bank account.  Confronting her, she got a confession of what had happened and went to the FBI.

His arrest came in August 2021.  Denied bail, and he’s been in jail ever since.

21-year-old Gisela Castro Medina, who testified at the trial, said she worked as Lazzaro’s recruiter, finding teenage girls on Snapchat and messaging them about meeting her Sugar Daddy.  She testified that Lazzaro preferred 16 year olds.

Castro Medina pled guilty to sex trafficking charges in December, testifying in exchange for leniency.   Her sentencing is not set.

Nor is Lazzaro’s.  He faces anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.