Anna Sorokin, the fake heiress who bamboozled New York’s elite and is serving time in state prison, may not see any of the proceeds from a deal she signed with Netflix to transform her life story into a television series.
The office of the New York State attorney general filed a request in late May to block a $70,000 payment from Netflix that Ms. Sorokin was supposed to receive in June, citing the “Son of Sam” law that prevents felons from profiting from their crimes, legal papers show.
The attorney general, Letitia James, is also seeking to bar Ms. Sorokin from getting the $15,000 per episode consultant fee and the $7,500 per episode royalty that Netflix agreed to pay her once Shonda Rhimes, the award-winning producer, creates a show for the streaming service based on the convicted grifter’s exploits.
Justice Roger D. McDonough in Albany temporarily ordered Netflix not to disburse money to Ms. Sorokin until the matter is resolved through litigation, except for $30,000 for her attorney’s unpaid legal fees, court papers showed.
Filed in State Supreme Court in Albany and first reported by The New York Post on Monday, the attorney general’s request provided new details about how Ms. Sorokin, better known as Anna Delvey, intended to profit from the story of how she convinced New York socialities and businesspeople that she was a wealthy German heiress, rather than a Russian-born daughter of a working-class family.
Ms. Sorokin inked the deal with Netflix in June 2018, months after her arrest on multiple counts of grand larceny. It was part of a larger deal to buy the rights to the information in the detailed article written in May 2018 by Jessica Pressler in New York magazine.
In her filing, Adele Durand, an assistant New York attorney general, argued that the proceeds of Ms. Sorokin’s Netflix contract amounted to “profits of a crime,” and should therefore be turned over to the New York State Office of Victim Services for redistribution.
“It has always been Ms. Sorokin’s intention to pay back her victims,” Todd Spodek, her lawyer, said in a text message. “I anticipate resolving the issue without further litigation.”
Ms. Sorokin, 28, turned up in New York in 2013 and began posing as an heiress worth over $60 million, spending lavishly on clothes, parties and hotel rooms, even as she walked out on bills and faked bank statements. After a colorful trial during which she showed no remorse, Ms. Sorokin was convicted of several counts of grand larceny and sentenced in May to serve 4 to 12 years in prison.
Ms. Sorokin, the court papers detailed, owes $198,956.19 to the victims of her crimes. City National Bank, which was duped into giving her a $100,000 loan, had announced its intention to sue her for the Netflix proceeds. She also owes money to luxury New York hotels — like The Beekman and the W New York — and to Blade, a private jet and helicopter service.
In a jailhouse interview in May, Ms. Sorokin told The Times that she was not sorry for bilking hotels, restaurants and others.
“I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything,” she said. “I regret the way I went about certain things.”
She said she always intended to pay back her creditors, and had been trying to raise millions for a social club that she believed would be lucrative.
New York lawmakers passed the “Son of Sam” law in 1977 to prevent David Berkowitz, a serial killer, from profiting from the publicity that surrounded his crimes. But it does not prevent other people besides the criminal from making money off true crime stories.
In addition to the Netflix series still in development, Rachel DeLoache Williams, a former friend of Ms. Sorokin, has written a soon-to-be-published book about her experiences with the fake heiress.
Ms. Williams, a former photo editor at Vanity Fair who testified at the trial, said Ms. Sorokin had duped her out of $60,000 during a luxury vacation in Morocco. Ms. Sorokin, however, was acquitted of charges stemming from Ms. Williams’s accusations.
Sharon Otterman has been a reporter at The Times since 2008, primarily covering education and religion for Metro. She won a Polk Award for Justice Reporting in 2013 for her role in exposing a pattern of wrongful convictions in Brooklyn. @sharonNYT
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