By Murray Weiss, Shayna Jacobs and Adam Nichols
MANHATTAN — The man pictured in the New York Post with "Millionaire Madam" Anna Gristina perched on his lap is a former NYPD detective who worked for the Manhattan District Attorney's office for more than a decade, sources said Friday.
The DA's office conducted a five-year investigation into the woman sitting on Sly Francis' knee, and they allege she ran an Upper East Side brothel that serviced extremely wealthy clientele. Court records claim Gristina, 47, was recorded bragging about protection from law enforcement sources.
Francis worked at the DA's office for 12 years before retiring around 2004, sources said. Sources added that while Francis worked in the DA's office he did some other after-hours work on the side, without elaborating.
It's unclear when the picture of Francis with Gristina was taken. The Post's story, which ran under the headline "DA Putting the Screws to Me," claimed Gristina has been under pressure from investigators to divulge the names of the business moguls she allegedly claimed to know.
"Nice photo of me from back in the day," Francis wrote on his Facebook page, along with a link to the Post's story.
Gristina allegedly made millions running the illicit business for 15 years out of an apartment on East 78th Street, prosecutors said.
The story identifies Francis only as "Sly," and said he worked as Gristina's bodyguard.
Sources told DNAinfo that Francis started his career as a clerk at the FBI's Manhattan office before he joined the NYPD.
His detail there included working as an investigator in the district attorney's office and as a chauffeur to the First Deputy Police Commissioner, source said.
"He was a great guy, a good bodyguard, loyal, always there when you needed him," a source said. "A real family man."
But another source described him as a "guy that likes to hang out and get around town... [who] traveled in Manhattan circles.
"He didn't just finish his day and go home," the source added.
Yet another source described him as "arrogant" and thought no one could touch him.
People who worked with Francis said that back in 1993 he was reprimanded for the way he dressed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who was serving his first stint atop the NYPD. Kelly saw Francis sporting a fedora and long leather jackets and ordered one of his top deputies to tell Francis to tone down his garb, sources said.
Sources also say that the picture of Francis and Gristina was likely taken around 1999 or 2000, well within the 15-year time window that Gristina's alleged to have been running her operation.
But law enforcement sources do not believe the photo of Francis and Gristina will open any new avenues to pursue in the five-year-old investigation by the DA's corruption unit. Still, investigators will speak to Francis, sources said.
It's unclear what Francis, who is roughly 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, did after he retired, but his Facebook page links him to two security firms.
Attempts to contact Francis were unsuccessful Friday. The DA's office declined comment.
Gristina was charged with a single count of promoting prostitution and is being held on Riker's Island on $2 million bail.