Anna Gristina's Bail Secured by Manhattan Philanthropist
Bonnie Lunt, a former head-hunter who placed high-powered women into executive positions, ponied up $250,000 needed to spring Gristina from Rikers Island, where she has been cooling her heels for the past four months, according to court documents.
Lunt, who has been described as the "Jerry Maguire of the communications industry" in a piece on Forbes.com, is a friend of Gristina's sister, according to published reports.
"I thank Ms. Lunt for her generosity," Norman Pattis, Gristina's lawyer, told DNAinfo. But Pattis declined to comment on why Lunt decided to make the offer.
Her firm, Bonnie Lunt Management, which she started in 1980, helped place women in executive positions as well as collect severance packages, according to Forbes, and she served on the board at advertising training ground the Miami Ad School.
"Women have men working for them who have better packages than they do," Lunt told Forbes in the piece.
Lunt, 65 — who lives just blocks from the East 78th Street brothel where Gristina allegedly made millions over a 15-year span — has also been very involved in philanthropic work, starting a charity in 1993, People Helping People, to aid those who were decimated by Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, according to the website.
The organization also provided earthquake relief in California and distributed aid to New Orleans for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Lunt was also was the steward for the Azama project, which built a school and a medical clinic for the village of Otavalo in Ecuador beginning in 2004.
Gristina, who is facing a single count of promoting prostitution, had been trying since her Feb. 23 arrest, first reported by DNAinfo.com New York, to get her $2 million bail package reduced.
Her bid was rejected four times by Judge Juan Merchan, but a state appeals court recently overturned the decision and dramatically lowered her bail to $250,000 bond or $125,000 cash.
Gristina's family lawyer, Peter Gleason, offered to put up his $2.5 million Tribeca condo as collateral, but she rejected the offer at the last minute, leaving her team scrambling to come up with the money.
According to the court documents, Lunt, of the Upper East Side, described as a "family friend," forked over a $50,000 check and guaranteed the rest of the $250,000 bond package, which was assembled at the last minute by celebrity bail bondsman Ira Judelson.
"I feel relieved for the family," Judelson said Tuesday night. "This took a lot of work, but I'm happy she can finally go home."
Neighbors at Lunt's building described her as a friendly woman who traveled a lot.
''She's a nice lady. She does a lot of charity work. She goes down to South America a lot,'' said the woman, Barbara, 67. ''She has a dog. She usually has someone else walk him because she travels a lot.''
From there, they returned to her family's farm in upstate Monroe, NY, where she kept several pigs.
"Thank you everyone," Gristina told reporters outside the courthouse. "I just want to be with my family tonight, please."
As part of her bail conditions, Gristina has to pay for and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
While she is not under house arrest, she will only be able to venture to certain locations — likely Orange County, where she lives, her lawyer's office in Connecticut and court in Manhattan.
Gristina, a mother of four, allegedly made millions through a network of wealthy clients during a 15-year run.
She was allegedly caught on tape bragging that she had law enforcement personnel who would tip her off to any impending probe.
When she was arrested, she was grilled about five associates, including a "wealthy financier" and "prominent international banker," but refused to say anything, according to court documents.