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Testimony: Minnesota GOP donor paid underage girls for sex

August 24, 2021 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A prominent Minnesota GOP donor allegedly paid underage girls for sex, a police officer testified in federal court Tuesday.

The Star Tribune reported that Minneapolis Police Officer Brandon Brugger spoke during a detention haring for Anton Lazzaro. A federal grand jury indicted the 30-year-old Lazzaro on multiple sex trafficking counts earlier this month. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer ordered him held without bail pending trial, citing the nature of the charges and Lazarro’s ample resources, which she said make him a flight risk.

Brugger, who works for a state task force on sex trafficking, testified that Lazzaro groomed his victims with expensive purses, vape pens, alcohol and other gifts. Some of the girls were as young as 15.

He added that 19-year-old St. Thomas University student Gisela Castro Medina recruited girls for Lazzaro on SnapChat. Medina, who also served as chairwoman of the school’s Republican chapter, has been charged with helping recruit victims.


Brugger said he began investigating Lazzaro after one of the victims and her family told police that she was being trafficked. He learned then that the FBI was already investigating Lazzaro based on a separate tip.

Lazzaro’s attorney, Zachary Lee Newland, requested unsuccessfully that Lazzaro be confined to his 2,200-square-foot condo in downtown Minneapolis rather than in jail. He said the home would be fitted with thumbprint locks and cameras providing a continuous feed to federal probation officials. Newland said Lazzaro would be “living inside a real-life ‘Truman Show’ scenario,” referring to a 1999 movie about a man whose life is filmed secretly for a reality show.