'Millionaire Madam' Anna Gristina Pleads Guilty
MANHATTAN — 'Millionaire madam' Anna Gristina pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a single count of promoting prostitution, ending a five-year saga that pitted the suburban mother of four against the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors originally billed the Gristina probe as a public corruption case, claiming they had wiretaps where they heard Gristina boasting of high-profile johns at the bordello she was supposedly running out of an Upper East Side apartment and of having close contacts among cops who were protecting her.
DNAinfo.com New York broke the story in March that Gristina lived a double life as a soccer mom who ran a premium escort service out of an East 78th Street apartment.
After her arrest in February and four-month stint on Rikers Island, Gristina never named names and prosecutors weren't able to make the corruption allegations stick.
“Over the years, the defendant made numerous claims that she had connections and influence in any number of city, state, and federal agencies, including the NYPD, the FBI, the DA’s Office, the Governor’s office, and Customs, among others," Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan said in a statement read during the hearing Tuesday where Gristina entered her plea.
"We have spent time investigating the defendant’s claims and we have not found evidence to support any of those claims," he said. "We are left with a straight-forward promoting prostitution case — a defendant who ran a brothel for many years and who profited from the sex trade. That is all.”
Gristina took the deal in exchange for time she already served on Rikers Island, Judge Juan Merchan said. Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 20.
Under the terms of the deal, Gristina will also serve five years probation.
Gristina arrived at Manhattan Supreme Court about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday with her husband, two sons, and daughter. She was greeted by a mob of reporters, but kept her head ducked and let her blond hair cover her face as she walked silent into the courtroom.
Once inside, she replied, "Yes, sir," when Merchan asked if she "knowingly advanced and profited from prostitution."
Gristina also admitted that she made calls and texts and had at least one face-to-face meeting to arrange a rendez-vous between prostitutes and a client called "Anthony."
Judge Merchan warned Gristina — a Scottish national — that her plea could mean she'll be deported. "It is my job to inform you that you very well may be deported as as a result of this plea," Merchan said.
Gristina was arrested after a five-year public corruption investigation that spanned the terms of two district attorneys.
Prosecutors contended Gristina's client list included high-profile public officials, and law enforcement sources said she brokered a sex romp for former U.S. Sen. John Edwards.
Gristina's bail was originally set at $2 million because prosecutors believed she was a flight risk with connections worldwide.
Gristina argued in June that her bail should be reduced because she needed to care for her 9-year-old son Nicholas Gorr, who has a heart murmur. On Tuesday, she brought the little blond boy to the press-filled courthouse with her, a move that earned her a scolding from Merchan.
"I cannot see the benefit to that young child to exposing him to this," Merchan reprimanded Gristina. The judge said he wasn't pleased with Gristina's conduct during the case.
"I don't expect anyone to nominate Anna Gristina for sainthood," her defense attorney Tuesday said as he asked the judge for the time served sentence.
Gristina's bail was eventually reduced to $250,000, and in June, after spending nearly four months in jail, she was released from Rikers Island and returned to her family's Orange County pig farm.