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'Millionaire Madam' May Be Open to Plea Talks, Lawyer Says

By DNAinfo Staff on March 15, 2012 11:39am

Anna Gristina, the alleged millionaire madam, in court on March 15, 2012.
Anna Gristina, the alleged millionaire madam, in court on March 15, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

By Shayna Jacobs and Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Staff

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Alleged "Millionaire Madam" Anna Gristina may be open to a plea deal, her newest attorney said Thursday at a bail hearing.

Gristina's third lawyer, Gary Greenwald, lost a bid to get her $2 million bail reduced, but she still may be freed as early as next week with help from her former lawyer, Peter Gleason, who has offered his $2.5 million TriBeCa condo as collateral.

Greenwald also indicated that he would like to move the case along quickly if it's appropriate, and if it turns out a plea deal is in Gristina's best interest.

"I'm not a big fan of wasting a lot of time here ... if I think a plea is the proper thing," Greenwald told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

Gristina, 44, is charged with a single count of promoting prostitution.

The developments came as Gristina's claims of poverty were undercut by the addition of the new privately paid Hudson Valley-based lawyer.

Outside the courthouse, Greenwald said he mentioned the plea possibility because it's the standard practice to find out what may be offered.

"In every criminal case you ever have from murder to spitting on the sidewalk, you always ask 'What's the possibility of a plea?' Doesn't mean you're going to accept it — you've got to know what the plea would be, what plea offer would be made," Greenwald said.

"Every case has the potential of a plea — doesn't mean we're going to do a plea," he clarified, adding that it "doesn't mean anything like that."

Prosecutors argued Thursday to keep the sky-high bail set for Gristina, who is accused of running a brothel out of an Upper East Side apartment and has a British passport, because she is a potential flight risk with wealthy connections worldwide.

"Right now I haven't heard anything to justify reducing bail at this time," Merchan said while ordering Gristina's bail to remain at $2 million bond or $1 million cash.

Earlier this week, Gristina said she couldn't afford to hire an attorney and would need the state to foot the bill for her legal counsel.

Her court-appointed lawyer, Richard Siracusa, had been joined by Gleason, a local activist and former firefighter, who has said he's volunteering his apartment and his services because he believes Gristina is being railroaded by authorities.

He has offered to also let Gristina and her family live in the tony downtown condo but Greenwald said she'd be going back to her home in Monroe, N.Y. if she gets released.

Gristina moved on Wednesday to bring in Greenwald, who has previously represented mobster Vincent "Vinny the Chin" Gigante, to replace Gleason and Siracusa.

Gristina's family and friends pooled their money to hire him, but they didn't have enough to pay the $200,000 fee needed to post the bond, Greenwald said.

Greenwald must apply to the court to allow Gleason's downtown digs to serve as the sole piece of collateral that could spring Gristina from the women's ward on Rikers Island. She could be released from jail sooner if her family is able to to come up with a $200,000 fee for a bondsman, he said.

Greenwald also refuted the DA's suggestion that her well-to-do friends could be helping win her release from Rikers Island and said she would not be "in a cell by herself sweating" if she had the kind of rich friends prosecutors have been referring to. 

Greenwald said he hopes to soon get the alleged tape recordings in which prosecutors say Gristina flaunts her illicit high-end prostitution business.

In court Thursday Gristina appeared stoic. Her husband, Kelvin Gorr, cut a dashing figure in a jet black form-fitting suit with an open collar that exposed his chest. He fled out the courthouse's back door in a black Dodge Charger with two hefty security guards in sport coats at his side.

Gristina, a mother of four who is suspected of making millions during the 15 years she allegedly ran a brothel from an apartment at 304 East 78th St., was arrested on Feb. 22 and has been held on Rikers Island ever since.

Her alleged booker, 30-year-old stunner Jaynie Baker, turned herself in and was released on $100,000 bail on Tuesday.