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Millionaire Madam's Lawyer Says New York is 'Schizophrenic About Sex'

By Irene Plagianos | August 16, 2012 12:13pm | Updated on August 16, 2012 4:07pm
Anna Gristina leaves Manhattan Supreme Court on August 16th, 2012.
Anna Gristina leaves Manhattan Supreme Court on August 16th, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The lawyer for accused "Millionaire Madam" Anna Gristina said Thursday that his client was the victim of a city that is "schizophrenic about sex."

The remarks came after a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court where a judge refused to drop the case against Gristina, who was held for months on $2 million bail on a single count of promoting prostitution and tried several times unsuccessfully to get released.

“We’re schizophrenic about sex. We’re sexophrenic," said Norman Pattis, Gristina's lawyer, before his client was swarmed by reporters and hopped into a black sedan with her family.

"You’re here because you want to hear titillating stories about sex," Pattis told reporters. "I’m here because my client will be deported if convicted, and I intend to keep her with her child."

Earlier, Justice Juan Merchan made clear that he intends to keep the scope of the trial focused solely on the one count of promoting prostitution.

"This is one count of one incident, that's what this is about," Merchan said. "This is going to be a short trial."

"We’re going to keep this trial very focused," he added. "I'm not going to let this trial get out of hand."

Gristina and her alleged accomplice, Jaynie May Baker, were charged in February with a single count of promoting prostitution for allegedly arranging a girl-on-girl sex show for a man who turned out to be an undercover cop.

But, as first reported by DNAinfo.com New York, Gristina and Baker had been under investigation for five years for allegedly running a multimillion dollar prostitution ring out of an apartment on East 78th Street, supplying hookers to a bevy of powerful men for 15 years.

Prosecutors have said they have nearly one hundred hours of audio and video surveillance that showed Gristina had been peddling high-priced prostitutes, including some who were underage. The wiretaps also allegedly capture Gristina bragging about her connections to law enforcement officials.

But Merchan's words signal that he intends to keep that evidence, which goes outside the bounds of the one charge against Gristina, largely off limits.

During the hearing, Pattis said he "feared" prosecutors would try to introduce the hours of surveillance—which he has yet to see—without giving him enough time to prepare for trial.

Merchan told prosecutors they have two weeks to file motions that will indicate what evidence from the undercover sting they wish to use.

Gristina, dressed in sheer blouse and high-heeled sandals, remained silent during her court appearance Thursday. She arrived with her husband, Kelvin Gorr, three of her four children—Nicholas Gorr, 9, Stefano Gristina, 18, and Suzanna Pak, 24—as well as a number of bodyguards.

The hearing comes just days after Baker apparently cut a deal to avoid jail after she and Gristina were set to fight the charges together.

But Pattis said the move doesn't concern him.

"I am unaware of any evidence she has that could hurt my client," he said.

Gristina's trial is set to begin Oct. 15.

She was held on $2 million bail at Rikers Island for months following her arrest. After a long battle to reduce her bail, Gristina was let out of Rikers in June. Baker had been freed on $100,000 bail.

Gristina, who now wears an ankle bracelet as part of her bail conditions, lives on a farm in upstate Monroe, N.Y.

Gristina faces up to four years in prison if convicted.