Accused Manhattan madam, Anna Gristina ended her seven month ordeal by agreeing to a plea deal of a single count of promoting prostitution in exchange for six months in prison which essentially reflects time already served. She was also put on 5 years’ probation. If the case went to trial, the defendant would have faced a prison sentence of up to seven years. It was reported that Gristina originally refused to take a plea because she believed it could mean that she’d be deported back to Scotland.
“We are left with a straightforward promoting prostitution case – a defendant who ran a brothel for many years and who profited from the sex trade,” said Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan. “That is all.”
Gristina, described as a soccer mom, in comparison to the leader of a high-priced service for sex, the 44 year old mother of four spent time awaiting trial at Riker’s Island charged with running a high-priced prostitution ring out of her E. 78th Street residence. Her alleged co-conspirator, Jaynie Mae Baker, who was accused of running the brothel along with Gristina, took a plea deal earlier last month that allows her to avoid additional jail time as well. Ms. Baker was known as a recruiter for VIP Life a matchmaking service that was earlier exhibited on “20/20” and in a New York Times article.
The case received National attention when claims were made that she supplied under-aged prostitutes to her clientele; one of which was said to be embattled two-time presidential candidate John Edwards. Edwards was recently found not guilty on one of six charges of campaign finance corruption where it was alleged that the purpose of the acceptance of these secret campaign donations was to assist in the covering up of his affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter who was hired to work for his presidential campaign. Their relationship included the birth of their child.
Another high-profile participant associated with the case was David Walker, a Wall Street investment banker who worked for Morgan Stanley. Upon release of the information Walker was identified of hosting a meeting where prosecutors alleged that Gristina was trying to raise money for a business venture. Walker wasn’t charged with any crime and Morgan Stanley stated that there was no evidence linking him to any criminal activity. However, Walker was placed on paid administrative leave until the conclusion of the investigation.
Another aspect of the case which helped it gain notoriety in the press was the amount of bail imposed upon the accused. The 2 million dollar bond appeared excessive to distraught family members. During the course of her incarceration four attempts were requested to lower the set amount unsuccessfully. On April 8th Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon vetoed arguments by Gristina’s attorney who stated that the steep bail amount was not properly considered by the original judge. The prosecution had won the stunning bail figure by arguing that she headed a multi-million dollar pay for sex ring with the assistance of unnamed law enforcement officials. The original judge also agreed with prosecutors who claimed that the Scottish-born Gristina could also be a flight risk. To date none of the unnamed law enforcement personnel has been revealed.
The family set up a Website asking for donations to “bring her back to us.” “There’s Mother’s Day, the prom, graduation. She should be out. These are once-in-a-lifetime things that she’s missing because of an unjust bail.” According to the Website, Gristina was being held in solitary confinement. It also goes on to say that the authorities are trying to humiliate her by making her “wear only a T-shirt and a diaper.” The Department of corrections told the New York Daily News there’s no truth to those claims.
“She doesn’t sell sex, she sells discretion for wealthy men” said her daughter, Suzanna Pak in an Anderson Cooper TV interview.
Gristina’s legal problems began when she allegedly boasted to friends in Scotland claiming the bragging rights to “Building and Empire” which was reported in the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail tabloid. The defendant also made numerous claims that she had connections and influence in any number of city, state and federal agencies, including the DA’s office, NYPD, FBI, the governor’s office and Customs, among others.
During the proceedings the prosecution requested and was denied Gristina’s client list. In a recent article posted in the Daily Mail Gristina said: “I have a deep sense of loyalty and I’m Scottish” when asked why she wouldn’t release the names of her clients.
In a case such as this the result is not surprising. The defendant was dealing with adults and not underage girls; However if such were the case then Federal Authorities may well have elected to get involved. In such a case it is not uncommon for federal authorities to take the lead. In such cases the penalties can be stiffer and if convicted the defendants may face sexual offender registration requirements.
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If you are being investigated for any type of criminal charge, including solicitation, and/or promoting prostitution and are looking for an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or West Palm Beach area, Mr. Cohen’s office can provide you with the skilled representation you need to accomplish the best outcome for your individual case.
Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer rated AV by Martindale Hubbel (pre-eminent) and a “Super Lawyer” recognized as being in the top 5% of his specialized field (criminal trial law) among Florida lawyers. He is considered a specialist by the Florida Bar in his field. Mr. Cohen has tried scores of cases over his 35 year career and is a member of the Florida and New York Bars. His office is located in Fort Lauderdale and practices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, among other counties. He is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Second Circuit.