January 23, 1991
|Other names||Anna Delvey|
|Criminal status||NYSDOC #19G0366; released, February 2021|
|Conviction(s)||April 25, 2019|
|Criminal charge||Grand larceny, second-degree larceny, theft of services|
|Penalty||4 to 12 years imprisonment, $24,000 fine, $199,000 restitution, deportation to Germany|
Anna Sorokin (Russian: Анна Сорокина; born January 23, 1991) is a Russian-born German woman who gained notoriety for her singular role in a fraud scandal. She moved to New York City in 2013 and created the fictitious identity of Anna Delvey, pretending to be a wealthy German heiress. In 2019, she was convicted of multiple counts of attempted grand larceny, theft of services, and larceny in the second degree for defrauding New York hotels and wealthy acquaintances.
Sorokin's story was widely reported on for her ability to blend into social circles. As of 2019, television adaptions of her story are in development at Netflix and HBO. The Netflix drama is entitled Inventing Anna, created and produced by Shonda Rhimes.
Early life and education
Anna Sorokin was born in Domodedovo, a working-class satellite town southeast of Moscow, in 1991. She was one of two children in the family. Her father, Vadim Sorokin, worked as a truck driver, while her mother owned a small convenience store before becoming a housewife. The family moved to Germany in 2007, when Anna was 16. She attended the gymnasium in Eschweiler and was described by classmates as a quiet girl who had a difficult time with the German language.
Anna graduated from high school in 2011 and moved to London to attend Central Saint Martins, but she did not attend and returned to Germany. She worked as an intern at a public relations firm before moving to Paris to perform an internship for the French fashion magazine Purple. At that time she started calling herself Anna Delvey.
Time as a fake heiress
After moving to New York City in 2013, Sorokin told new friends and acquaintances that she had a €60 million trust fund (approximately $80,000,000 in 2013) that was held in overseas banks and would cover her lavish hotel stays and lifestyle. The story about how her family had acquired the money changed multiple times and included having a father who was a diplomat, an oil executive, or solar panel magnate. Many who knew her as an heiress were told about her attempts to set up an art foundation that was funded by a family trust, and her plan to lease the historic Church Missions House as a multi-purpose studio and events space. Sorokin became known for staying in trendy hotels, eating at James Beard Award-winning restaurants, and regularly visiting spas and salons.
Sorokin would get her friends and traveling companions to pay large amounts – if not the entire amount – for the trips that they took together, claiming that she had checked her wallet with her luggage or guilting the friends into covering the cost when her credit card would be declined. Many others didn't see the red flags when they were asked to pay for things, as Sorokin would claim that she had difficulty moving her assets from overseas and would laugh it off as forgetfulness when they would have to hound her to pay them back.
In 2017, Sorokin was arrested on six charges of grand larceny for allegedly scamming wealthy New York City business acquaintances and several hotels. According to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the thefts totalled approximately $275,000.
Sorokin initially faced three counts of misdemeanor theft of services due to complaints regarding stays at the Beekman Hotel and the W Downtown as well as a meal at the Parker Méridien hotel in New York.
On December 18, 2018, Sorokin appeared in New York City Criminal Court and rejected a plea deal that would have her released from jail and deported back to Germany in early 2019. Sorokin decided to go to trial and a March 20, 2019, date was initially set by Judge Diane Kiesel. Jury selection began during the week of March 17. On April 25, 2019, a jury found Sorokin guilty of second-degree larceny, theft of services and one count of first-degree attempted grand larceny. Sorokin was found not guilty on another charge of attempted grand larceny in the first degree for an attempted $22 million loan she tried to procure and a charge of theft of $60,000 for a Morocco trip. ICE has confirmed that she will be deported at some point due to her visa waiver overstay.
During the trial, the prosecutor said Sorokin seemed to "revel at the plight of her victims" and that she "showed more concern for her attire than the emotions of those she hurt." Her defense attorney attempted to humanize her, claiming that she had been buying time to pay back all the debt, and attempted to portray her as an entrepreneur and even compared her to Frank Sinatra, claiming they both created their own opportunities in New York.
On May 9, 2019, Sorokin was given a sentence of 4 to 12 years in state prison, fined $24,000, and ordered to pay restitution of about $199,000. After serving her sentence, she will face deportation to Germany.
Sorokin was incarcerated at Rikers Island during the trial. After the trial, Sorokin, New York State Department of Corrections #19G0366, was initially housed at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility before being transferred to Albion Correctional Facility. She was released from prison on February 11, 2021.
Reactions to her conviction
Writing for The New York Times, known critic Ginia Bellafante argued that Sorokin's prosecution and conviction is an example of women being punished more harshly for white-collar crimes than men. She compared the prosecution of Sorokin to the conviction of Bridget Anne Kelly in the Fort Lee lane closure scandal, highlighting that Kelly received a far higher sentence than David Wildstein who was also involved in the scandal. Bellafante also criticized New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. for being biased against women by celebrating Sorokin's conviction on Twitter, when in the past he has declined to prosecute men accused of far more serious crimes, including Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Harvey Weinstein.
Popular culture representation
In 2018, New York magazine published a profile about her life, business dealings, and arrest. Shonda Rhimes acquired the rights to the New York profile and is developing a Netflix series based on it, starring Julia Garner. Lena Dunham is working on a separate project about Sorokin for HBO, based on the account of Rachel DeLoache Williams, a witness in the trial and former photo editor at Vanity Fair.
A book written by Williams, entitled My Friend Anna, was published in July 2019 by Gallery Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), as well as by Quercus in the UK and Goldmann in Germany, and goes in depth about the time that Williams spent in connection with Sorokin. Sorokin herself is also writing books about the time spent as a fake heiress, and told reporters that she is planning two memoirs: one to span the time that she spent in New York and one about the time she spent in Rikers.
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