Soccer Mom Madam

Bail approved for woman in US prostitution case

NEW YORK (AP) – A suburban mother charged with moonlighting as a big-city escort madam was poised to get out of jail on bond as early as Tuesday, after four months behind bars in a case laced with claims of prominent clients and law-enforcement protectors.

A Manhattan judge signed off Tuesday on Anna Gristina’s $250,000 bond package, clearing the way for her to be released with an ankle bracelet. It wasn’t immediately clear how soon she would be released, but bail bondsman Ira Judelson said he was aiming to get her out later Tuesday or early Wednesday.

“We are delighted to see Anna reunited with her family,” her lawyer, Norman Pattis, said in an email.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office had no immediate comment.

The Scotland-born Gristina, 44, is a mother of four who tends to rescued pigs at her home in Monroe, N.Y. But prosecutors say she also was the madam of an upscale sex service for 15 years, making millions of dollars and boasting that she had contacts in law enforcement who could tip her off if she was about to get busted.

Gristina has said she was merely starting a matchmaking service, not peddling prostitutes. She has pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution, a low-level felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Gristina was arrested in February as she left a fundraising meeting at a friend’s Morgan Stanley office, where she’d been trying to raise money for her business, prosecutors say.

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan initially ordered her jailed on $2 million bond and declined requests to reduce it. But an appeals court called the amount “unreasonable and an abuse of discretion” and lowered it to $250,000 on June 12.

Gristina’s supporters have spent the ensuing weeks trying to put together the money, particularly after she decided to decline an offer from one of her former lawyers who was willing to put up his Manhattan loft apartment as collateral.

Judelson said members of Gristina’s family put up property for her bond. He and Pattis declined to give specifics.

By law, prosecutors sometimes can review bail arrangements and raise objections if they think the money isn’t legitimate. In Gristina’s case, the DA’s office didn’t object, and Merchan OK’d the plan.

Judelson was working on the logistics of Gristina’s release Tuesday evening.

“She wants to get home to her 9-year-old,” he said. The boy was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur, according to court papers Gristina’s lawyer filed earlier this month to press her case for lower bail.

A woman accused of helping Gristina run the alleged escort service, two alleged prostitutes and an accused money-launderer also have been arrested in the case.

Jennifer Peltz

Source: AP

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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