- Sorokin, 28, guilty of deception worth more than $200,000
- Judge: ‘She was blinded by the glitter and glamour of New York’
Edward Helmore in New York and agencies- The Guardian
Anna Sorokin in court on Thursday. Officials said they would seek to deport Sorokin to Germany after her release from state custody. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images
A judge has sentenced the fake German heiress Anna Sorokin to four to 12 years in prison for defrauding hotels, restaurants, a private jet operator and banks out of more than $200,000.
Judge Diane Kiesel said she was “stunned by the depth of the defendant’s deception, her labyrinthine lies that kept her con afloat” at the sentencing on Thursday afternoon in Manhattan state court. As she handed down sentence, Kiesel reportedly made a reference to Bruce Springsteen’s song Blinded by the Light.
“She was blinded by the glitter and glamour of New York City,” the judge said, according to BuzzFeed News.
Sorokin, a would-be art collector, planned to open a members-only arts club but became known as the “Soho grifter” after her deception upon New York’s glitzy social scene came to light. Sorokin, 28, was found guilty last month of grand larceny and theft of services.
During the trial she was admonished for throwing tantrums when she couldn’t get her stylist-curated outfits, and drew unflattering sketches of the lead prosecutor during testimony.
But at sentencing she was humbled. Wearing a long-sleeved black dress, she told the judge: “I apologize for the mistakes I made.”
Sorokin’s story became a media sensation, and she received lengthy profiles in magazines and reams of tabloid coverage. A TV series about her life was also planned.
At the trial, prosecutors said she overdrew a bank account and forged financial records to further the ruse that she perpetrated under the name Anna Delvey. The jury agreed she had fraudulently maneuvered herself into “the best position to take money” from a social milieu of wealthy collectors, dealers and auctioneers.
Prosecutors said Sorokin’s ambition was to “live the fantasy of an extravagant lifestyle beyond her means”. But her lawyers argued that Sorokin was hardly unique in understanding that superficial glamour was key to acceptance in the circles she aspired to join.
“Fake it until you make it,” explained her lawyer, Todd Spodek. He conceded that his client’s practice was unethical but, he claimed, not illegal because she planned to pay everyone back. “Any millennial will tell you,” he said, “it is not uncommon to have delusions of grandeur.”
The jury rejected some of the charges against her, including an alleged attempt to fraudulently obtain a $22m (£17m) loan, and an accusation that she had swindled $60,000 from a friend who had paid for a lavish trip to Morocco.
Prosecutors told the court Sorokin now has barely “a cent to her name”.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has said it will seek to deport Sorokin, who was born in Russia, to Germany following her release from state custody. Ice said Sorokin overstayed her 2017 visa.