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Fake heiress accused of bilking New York City's elite convicted of fraud

Anna Sorokin, who was accused of posing as a socialite at some of New York City's hottest nightclubs, hotels and even banks, has been convicted of fraud in a trial, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said Thursday. A jury found Sorokin, who went by Anna Delvey, guilty of several felony counts of larceny and four counts of theft of services, a misdemeanor.

Sorokin faces up to 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.

Under her assumed name, Sorokin deceived friends and financial institutions into believing she had a fortune of about $67 million 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. 

Fake Heiress
Anna Sorokin leaves the courtroom in the lunch break during her trial at New York State Supreme Court, in New York, Thursday, April 25, 2019. Sorokin, who claimed to be a German heiress, is on trial on grand larceny and theft of services charges. Richard Drew / AP

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, which she failed to repay. 

Her attorney, Todd Spodek, insisted 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.

The case captivated some of New York City's wealthiest residents, and she became known as the "SoHo Grifter." Shonda Rhimes has acquired the rights to adapt a Netflix series about her. 

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