By Sonja Sharp and Amy Zimmer
MANHATTAN — The mother of four accused of running an Upper East Side brothel and netting millions of dollars from a network of powerful men has a thing for pigs, according to friends.
Anna Gristina — whose Facebook profile picture is a pig, rather than herself — was in the midst of coordinating a major rescue of 59 pot-bellies from Florida at the time of her arrest for prostitution two weeks ago, said Lana Hollenback, of the Tennessee-based Forgotten Angels Rescue & Education Center.
Gristina, 44, who hails from Scotland and has a British passport, was well-liked in the pot-bellied pig community for her work rescuing animals, Hollenback said.
"She's a real lover of animals," said Hollenback, who has never met Gristina in person but has been working with her for two years online on pig rescues. Rescues are staged by concerned community members when, in their opinion, the pigs aren't being adequately fed or cared for at private homes or farms.
"We knew she was a very private person with her business, but this was really a shock to us," Hollenback said of the news of her arrest. "We only saw the animal-loving side."
Sources said that she would even take the pigs to aged care homes to cheer up the residents.
At Gristina's sprawling two-story farmhouse in upstate Monroe, one pig was spotted Tuesday running around the grounds that had animal feed strewn about and empty animal pens. A bulldog and pitbull mix were also roaming the grounds that were scattered with toys and a children's wading pool. Neighbors said the family kept to themselves and that their kids took the bus to the local public school.
Gristina's husband of 10 years, Kelvin Gorr, told the Daily News he was "heartbroken" after his wife's bail hearing on Tuesday.
"We are just a great family and my wife means everything to me," said Gorr, who works in real estate and owns land in the area."
Gristina's ex-husband, Dario Gristina, an Italian transplanted to Putnam Valley, is a Conservative Republican candidate for the state Assembly. Relatives said Gristina had one child with her first husband. She also has a college-age daugther, sources said.
On Friends Reunited, a British social media site, Gristina told former school friends, "Working very hard. Building an empire takes a lot of work."
She also said, "I'm married, with more than three children. I'm working — happy where I am. I'm a CEO."
She also posted steamy pictures showing her and husband, Kelvin Gorr, apparently naked.
Neighbors yesterday said Anna Gristina had no fence on her Monroe property, so feral pigs would often come on her land, Hollenback said. Gristina also owned one pig, had just rescued two more out of Texas three months ago and had been fostering four or five more for the Ross Mill Farm & Piggy Camp, Hollenback said.
Sources said that a wild boar chased police around her property when they arrived there.
"Off to clean the sheds out and put fresh bedding... then spa day for miss Alice and Gerty," Gristina recently posted on the Ross Mill Farm Facebook page.
The farm declined to comment.
Many of Gristina's Facebook friends also had headshots of pigs, and she often posted messages on sites like "I love pigs so much it's not even funny," and "passive pig parents who rescue."
Gristina, along with Jaynie Mae Baker — a recruiter for the VIP Life celeb matchmaking service that authorities believe is Gristina's associate — had co-hosted a fundraiser for the Shelby Shelter at a West Village nightclub.
Hollenback said the Florida pigs Gristina was trying to rescue had been victims of a hoarder.
"Anna befriended [the owner] and got her to calm down," Hollenback said, noting that Gristina had been sending roughly $500 a week down to the owner to help with the pigs' expenses while she lined up homes for them.
"She said, 'I can't sleep at night knowing those pigs are hungry,' " according to Hollenback. "She has spent a lot of money on pigs over the years I have known her."
Hollenback said Gristina rarely talked about her work life, except for when she was getting together the $5,000 needed for the Florida pig rescue.
"She said, 'I never mentioned my rescue work to my clients, but I'll mention it at a cocktail party I'm having,' " Hollenbeck recalled.
"Little did we know."