Lawyer for accused Manhattan madam Anna Gristina to explore plea deal
NEW YORK (AP) — The lawyer for an accused madam of a multimillion-dollar New York brothel says he wants to gauge the possibility of a plea deal, but he cautions it doesn’t mean she’ll take one.
Anna Gristina remained behind bars Thursday. Her previous attorney offered to put up his apartment for her $2 million bond. But a judge said her lawyers need to complete official paperwork before he can consider the plan. The judge declined to lower the bond.
Lawyer Gary Greenwald told a court Thursday he’d like to talk with prosecutors “with a view toward a disposition or resolving the matter.” He said later he just wants to find out what plea option she might have, and he’d do the same in any case.
Gristina has pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution.
Accused of providing pricey prostitutes for 15 years and touting ties to law enforcement, Gristina has been held on $2 million bond since her February arraignment. Prosecutors have said her wealthy clients could help her flee, and they suggest the Scottish-born British citizen may have money hidden away to flee.
One of her lawyers, Peter J. Gleason, told a judge earlier this week that she’s broke and he’d put up his $2.5 million downtown Manhattan loft for the bond. He also offered to have Gristina and her family move in with him, with her under house arrest and electronic monitoring.
He said Wednesday that he’d admired people who “were defined as much as by what they were willing to risk as by what they accomplished,” and he’d made the offer in that spirit.
Prosecutors oppose the plan.
“There are ethical concerns,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney
Charles Linehan told a court Monday.
State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said he didn’t think there was an ethics problem but wanted to explore the issue further.
While not unheard-of, it’s certainly unconventional for lawyers to post bail for clients. A 2009 Bronx court ruling said there was no clear prohibition on such arrangements in New York, and their ethics are “the subject of continuing debate.”
Gristina, 44, and co-defendant Jaynie Baker, 30, have pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution. Their lawyers have said they were working together to start a business as matchmakers, not madams.
Baker was released Tuesday on $100,000 bond after turning herself in.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday that a police sergeant had been cleared of any wrongdoing after internal-affairs investigators interviewed him in the matter.
Sgt. Richard Wall had been ordered to turn over his work log for the past five years after someone reported he had been to the Upper East Side apartment building where prosecutors say Gristina arranged trysts.
Kelly said Wall was assigned to the area and went to the building on police work. Wall’s lawyer had said the sergeant had nothing to do with Gristina.
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