A German con artist who passed herself off as a wealthy heiress has been sentenced to up to 12 years in a US jail for swindling New York banks and hotels out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Judge Diane Kiesel said she was “stunned by the depth of the defendant’s deception” at Anna Sorokin’s sentencing in a Manhattan court on Friday morning (Australian time).
Sorkin was convicted last month on multiple counts of theft 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”.
Sorokin went by the name Anna Delvey when she defrauded financial institutions and Manhattan celebrity circles into believing she had a fortune of about $US67 million ($96 million) overseas that could cover her jet-setting lifestyle, high-end clothing and lavish hotel stays.
The 28-year-old 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 $US22-million ($31-million) 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 $US100,000 ($143,000) that she failed to repay.
In all, prosecutors accused her of stealing about $US275,000 ($393,000), including a $US35,400 ($50,000) 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 $US62,000 bill.
She was also found not guilty of one of the most serious charges in the indictment: attempting to steal more than a $1 million from City National Bank.
Manhattan jurors did convict 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 lawyer, 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.