Nothing About Interviewing the Fake Heiress Anna Sorokin Was Normal

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“I’m not individual,” Anna Sorokin informed me offhand, throughout considered one of two interviews at Rikers earlier this month.

Surely, I’d misheard her, I assumed. I’ve interviewed convicted murderers, drug cartel associates, a mom who admitted to killing her personal daughter — none of them referred to as themselves dangerous folks.

“You imply you’re a good individual?” I steered to Ms. Sorokin, a Russian immigrant who had been convicted of posing as a German heiress with a purpose to bilk banks and hustle associates out of some $200,000 (with the hope of gaining tens of hundreds of thousands extra).

No, she repeated: She was not individual.

I mustn’t have been so stunned by her candor; visits with Ms. Sorokin had been unusual even by jailhouse requirements. Why would the interview go any otherwise?

Ask anybody who’s taken the Q100 bus all the best way to the final cease on Rikers Island: It’s exhausting to get into the jail of your personal volition.

Reporters who do jailhouse interviews are used to the lengthy technique of visiting inmates, however it by no means will get much less exhausting. It takes many hours, a number of safety checks, zero entry to your cellphone — and two quarters (used for 2 separate locker checkpoints to drop off private contraband, like pens, notepads and digital units). Guards fingerprint you and swab your palms, typically twice, for traces of ballistics and medicines. Then, hours later and simply earlier than you’re granted a 60-minute go to, a guard pats you down — virtually in every single place. (If you’re fortunate you are able to do it your self, relying on who’s in cost.)

After all that, you higher hope the inmate needs to see you
But that’s simply routine; with Ms. Sorokin, it was totally different nonetheless. For starters, numerous folks need to meet the faux heiress. (She rejects reporters day-after-day, she mentioned.) She can have only one customer or group of holiday makers on every visitation day. I arrived at 9 a.m. for 1 p.m. visitation. Seated at a double-facing bench, I waited for Ms. Sorokin to reach, making eye contact so she’d know whom to stroll towards. I recognized myself; she acknowledged me from courtroom.

Doors opened at 7 a.m. on my second go to. I arrived promptly for a fact-check and to get her response to her sentencing the day earlier than. (She obtained 4 to 12 years.) Two different reporters with the identical thought had been on my bus.

We had two choices: go collectively as a bunch — The Times, The New York Post and the German tabloid Bild — or race one another to the primary locker checkpoint to see who may register first. I wasn’t sporting my trainers.

At this level, you may surprise: Isn’t there a neater approach? And there may be, kind of: Reporters can schedule an inmate interview full with pad and pen — and perhaps even bypass most of safety. But in my expertise, that form of interview can take a month to arrange. Ms. Sorokin would have been transported to jail by then.

There was additionally the problem of her protection lawyer: Todd Spodek, who requested to be described as a dashingly achieved legal professional, didn’t need me (or anybody else) speaking to Ms. Sorokin. But Ms. Sorokin doesn’t like guidelines. She doesn’t like authority. She doesn’t like folks telling her what to do. I received the primary interview, after which a second — alone.

Sorokin, Who Swindled N.Y.’s Elite, Is Sentenced to four to 12 Years in PrisonMay 9, 2019

The second time, Ms. Sorokin smiled as she approached. She laughed about refusing the others: She had not requested for a following and barely took media requests, she mentioned. She doesn’t benefit from the visitation course of, she informed me, calling it “miserable” and including that you would be able to’t simply “have a drink,” her hand flashing by the plastic barrier between us.

But an interview like this was totally different. She had issues she wished to say: She wasn’t sorry, she informed me. She regretted nothing, besides, maybe how she went about it. She’d do all of it once more.

The hardest a part of a jailhouse interview is staying each current within the second and memorizing the few quotes you may as extra flood in. Ms. Sorokin spoke rapidly: an excited ardour in her voice as she talked about her time as Anna Delvey, the books she is now writing and her decided assurance that she made the precise determination to go to trial — although she was sentenced to extra time than was provided in her unique plea deal.

Aside from quotes, there was additionally the reel of Russian and German cities: Ms. Sorokin was born in Domodedovo, Russia, simply exterior Moscow, she mentioned. But her household moved to Eschweiler, Germany, and later, after she moved alone to Paris, her dad and mom and brother moved to the close by German city of Düren. I might by no means bear in mind all these areas.

And Ms. Sorokin wanted one thing from me, too: my cell quantity, which she mentioned her lawyer wouldn’t give her.

She steered I ask for pencil and paper. (Never have I been allowed such a luxurious at Rikers.) Just ask, she urged me.

So I requested a guard, and to my astonishment, I obtained a nub pencil and a small slip of paper. I ripped it in half: one half for my quantity, the opposite for cities, quotes and notes I wrote in cramped handwriting.

Notes from an interview with Anna Sorokin at Rikers Island.CreditEmily PalmerCredit

I hesitated: I couldn’t simply cross her the paper, may I? Ms. Sorokin, who boasts she has been written up 30 instances since her incarceration in October 2017, eyed the guards. (A metropolis corrections official mentioned she had simply 13 infractions.) Pass it rapidly, she urged. “I’ll memorize the quantity,” she added, and studied the digits.

The interview continued, then a guard came to visit to sign that visitation was wrapping up. The finish of visitation is all the time a race to the end: How far more are you able to say earlier than the inmate’s title is named?

Soon after: “Sorokin.”

Ms. Sorokin stored speaking.


I requested one other query. She answered.


We stood to depart.

Just a few hours later, my telephone rang. It was Anna.

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