Fake German heiress convicted of swindling friends, banks, businesses
Anna Sorokin in New York State Supreme Court, New York, N.Y., April 25, 2019. (AP)
NEW YORK (AP) - A New York jury on Thursday convicted an extravagant socialite who bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.
The Manhattan jury found Anna Sorokin guilty of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny following a monthlong trial that attracted international attention. She was acquitted of one count of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny.
Her defense attorney, Todd Spodek, said Sorokin could face between five and 15 years in prison on the most serious charge. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 9.
Sorokin also faces deportation to Germany because authorities say she overstayed her visa.
Using the name Anna Delvey, Sorokin deceived friends and financial institutions into believing she had a fortune of about $67 million (60 million euros) overseas that would cover her high-end clothing, luxury hotel stays and trans-Atlantic travel.
She claimed her father was a diplomat or an oil baron and went to extraordinary lengths to have others pay her way. Prosecutors alleged that she promised one friend an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco but then stuck her with the $62,000 bill — Sorokin was acquitted of that charge.
She also was accused of forging financial records in an application for a $22 million loan to fund a private arts club she wanted to build, complete with exhibitions, installations and pop-up shops, prosecutors said. She was denied the loan but persuaded one bank to lend her $100,000 she failed to repay.
Spodek insisted that Sorokin planned to settle her six-figure debts and was merely "buying time." He portrayed her as an ambitious entrepreneur who had merely gotten in over her head but had no criminal intent.
Spodek said Sorokin was "upset, as anyone would be," following the verdict. But he said he was pleased Sorokin had been acquitted of one of the most serious charges in the indictment: attempting to steal more than $1 million from City National Bank.
The verdict followed two days of often tedious deliberations, in which jurors asked for repeated clarification on the law and, in one note to the judge, indicated they had reached a "stalemate" due to a single uncompromising juror. In another note Thursday, jurors said they were "unable to reach a unanimous verdict because we fundamentally disagree."
They reached their verdict less than two hours later.