Anton Lazzaro trial: Co-defendant takes the stand
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Thursday saw critical testimony in the federal sex trafficking trial of 32-year-old Anton Lazzaro.
Twenty-one-year-old Gisela Castro Medina spent the entire day on the witness stand, detailing for prosecutors how she first had sex with Lazzaro in 2020 after meeting him on a "sugar daddy" website. She testified she only had sex with him because he gave her money.
He soon then asked her to recruit other teenage girls to do the same, a suggestion she initially rejected. He told her, she said in court, that he’d had people in California who’d done the same thing, "almost like matchmaking."
"I was freaked out," she testified. "I was like this guy’s crazy, this guy’s weird."
What did you do? "I shut it down. I said no."
Gisela Casto Medina and Tony Lazzaro (FOX 9)
But eventually, she changed her mind and began reaching out to other girls on Snapchat. She testified Lazzaro preferred they be 16, white, petite, and without tattoos. But he did want, she said, the "broken girls."
"I never mentioned having sex with him, but I would mention he’s a sugar daddy.
"I think most people are familiar with what a sugar daddy is and what they do," she testified.
The prosecution showed multiple screen captures of Snapchat messages between her and the girls she approached, as well as conversations between her and Lazzaro.
She said as time went on, Lazzaro became her entire world. She also said, in addition to the hundreds of dollars she received each time she sent a girl to Lazzaro, he fed her a steady supply of Adderall, and she was soon addicted.
When the FBI served warrants at Lazzaro’s Minneapolis condo, she testified he became very nervous and wanted assurance she would not talk.
"I called him, and he kept telling me that it went bad," she said, referring to federal agents interrogating Lazzaro. "And he said he would, in exchange for my silence, he would buy me a house and pay for future grad school, anything."
Prosecutors detailed the flow of gifts and money that followed, including giving Castro Medina $11,000 to buy a car, paying a $5,000 college tuition bill, covering her rent, and giving her a credit card on which she spent about $10,000, as well as other gifts.
In cross-examination, Lazzaro’s defense took aim at her cooperation with the government, calling into question the truth of her testimony in light of the lenience she’ll receive. Her plea deal calls for "substantial assistance" in order to receive a lighter sentence.
"You’re looking at a life sentence, correct?" attorneys asked Castro.
"Yes," she answered.