MANHATTAN — When investigators whisked alleged "Millionaire Madam" Anna Gristina into custody earlier this year, they had a cadre of powerful men in their sights and grilled her for hours about a "wealthy financier" and a "prominent international banker" among others, court documents say.
The look into the inner circle of the pig-loving soccer mom came in a motion to dismiss the single count of promoting prostitution against Gristina, who has been held on $2 million bail since her February arrest, in which her legal team claims that she was subjected to "vindictive or selective prosecution."
It also came as Gristina's bail was reduced by a state appeals court Tuesday to $125,000 cash or $250,000 bond after four unsuccessful attempts and nearly four month spent behind bars at Rikers Island.
The court papers say that during an interrogation that lasted for "hours," Gristina was quizzed about a handful of men who she allegedly associated with, despite repeatedly asking for a lawyer.
Among the men mentioned in the documents but not named are a "wealthy financier with interests in real estate and professional sports" and a "member of a politically prominent family in Manhattan."
She was also asked about a "prominent international banker," "a prominent New York lawyer" and Jonas Gayer, a disgraced accountant and former IRS agent.
Gayer was arrested in 2010 and charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering but the case has evolved largely in secret because he was identified in court papers only as "John Doe."
The alleged role of the men in the operation, which was the subject of a five-year investigation by the Manhattan DA's office public corruption unit, as first reported by DNAinfo.com New York, was not immediately clear.
"I did not know one of the names, but I told the prosecutor some of the individuals were friends I had known for many years," Gristina allegedly said, according to the court papers.
When she asked for an attorney, the prosecutors got up and warned her that if she contacted any of the people they asked about "all bets are off."
"We'll see in a few weeks if you are willing to cooperate with us," they said, according to the documents, after which she was locked up in Rikers.
During the hearing at the appeals court, Gristina's attorney, Norm Pattis, blasted Gristina's bail as "unprecedented" and a "tool of interrogation" to pressure Gristina as an "inducement to cooperate" with authorities.
"Clearly, the People believe Mrs. Gristina controls access to an object of their desire: information on corrupt law enforcement officials and court officers," Pattis wrote in the motion. "They have shown a willingness to use clandestine, possibly illegal tactics to get it."
According to court papers, Gristina said she thought she was being kidnapped the day prosecutors and police surrounded her on a street corner, forced her into a car with black tinted windows, and whisked her away for an interrogation back in February.
"I feared I was being abducted and screamed for help, asking a passerby to call 911. I was then forced into the back seat of a black car with black tinted windows," Gristina said, according to an affidavit.
The documents say that after Gristina left a meeting with Morgan Stanley banker David Walker at his Fifth Avenue office on Feb. 22, she was surrounded by a group of men and women who grabbed her and said her help was needed for an investigation.
She said she believes the man who approached her was Assistant District Attorney Alexander Farrugia of the DA's corruption unit. But she said she was given no further details — adding that her repeated requests for a lawyer were denied.
She was cuffed, forced into car and driven to a building on Wooster Street where prosecutors grilled her for information about her high-powered friends — though she refused to answer questions without a lawyer, she said.
Prosecutors never told her she was being arrested — instead saying they'd go "easy on her" if she cooperated, according to the motion and the affidavit. But when Gristina refused to answer prosecutors' questions, she was hit with the full wrath of the prosecutor's office, Pattis argued in the motion.
The DA's office "vindictively prosecuted her as a result of her failure to cooperate with investigators during an unlawful custodial interrogation," Pattis wrote, calling the high-pressure questioning an "interrogation technique."
Prosecutors argued that Gristina, who's at the center to an ongoing investigation into an alleged $15 million high-priced escort service, needed to be held on such high bail because she poses a flight risk.
She has Scottish citizenship, a home in Canada and a British passport, which she has since surrendered. And she was allegedly caught on wiretap bragging about her plans to flee the country in case authorities caught on to her scheme, prosecutors said.
A footnote in the document mentions the possibility that several prosecutors could be called as witnesses in hearings on the case. The note goes on to say that an unnamed witness claimed a prosecutor had had a conversation with a DNAinfo.com New York reporter.
"Her spirit is unbroken, the People press on," Pattis wrote. "She, accordingly, requests this court end her ordeal with an order dismissing the action."