Friday 23 August 2019

Fake German heiress who conned New York's elite sentenced to up to 12 years in jail

Fashion statement: Anna Sorokin arrives in court where she frequently wore luxury label dresses during her trial. Photo: AP Photo/Richard Drew
Fashion statement: Anna Sorokin arrives in court where she frequently wore luxury label dresses during her trial. Photo: AP Photo/Richard Drew
Anna Sorokin (AP)
Court officers escort Anna Sorokin from the courtroom (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Anna Sorokin duped victims into thinking she was an heiress (Richard Drew/AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A German woman who passed herself off as a wealthy heiress to swindle US banks, hotels and even close friends has been sentenced to between four and 12 years behind bars.

New York Judge Diane Kiesel said during the sentencing hearing that she was "stunned by the depth of the defendant's deception" and turned down a request by Anna Sorokin's lawyers that she be sentenced to time she has already spent in jail awaiting trial.

Sorokin, 28, was convicted last month on multiple counts of grand larceny and theft of services, and has been in custody since her October 2017 arrest.

Moments before she was sentenced, Sorokin briefly addressed the court, saying: "I apologise for the mistakes I made."

Anna Sorokin (AP)
Anna Sorokin (AP)

Sorokin went by the name Anna Delvey when she defrauded financial institutions and Manhattan celebrity circles into believing she had a fortune of about $67 million (€60m) overseas that could cover her jet-set lifestyle, high-end clothing and lavish hotel stays.

She falsely claimed her father was a diplomat or an oil baron, and falsified bank records and forged her identity to further the scam.

Her ruse included an application for a $22 million (€19.6m) loan to fund a private arts club, complete with exhibitions, installations and pop-up shops, prosecutors said. She was denied that loan but persuaded one bank to lend her $100,000 (€89,000) that she failed to repay.

In all, prosecutors accused her of stealing some $275,000 (€245,000), including a $35,400 (€31,500) bill she failed to pay for a plane she chartered to and from the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

She went to great lengths to ensure others paid her way, even as she had "not a cent to her name, as far as we can determine", prosecutor Catherine McCaw said following Sorokin's arrest.

But jurors acquitted her of two counts, including an allegation that she promised a friend an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco and then stuck her with the $62,000 (€55,400) bill. She was also found not guilty of one of the most serious charges in the indictment: attempting to steal more than 1 million dollars from City National Bank.

Manhattan jurors convicted Sorokin of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny following a month-long trial that drew international attention and tabloid headlines about Sorkin's courtroom fashion.

Her defence attorney, Todd Spodek, argued Sorokin had been "buying time" and planned to settle her debts. He said she lacked criminal intent and was an ambitious entrepreneur.

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