The story of accused Manhattan madam Anna Gristina has all the hallmarks of a New York City tabloid classic: beautiful women as partners in crime, powerful clientele, a million dollar in the bank, Playboy and Penthouse models, a Morgan Stanley associate, potentially crooked cops, and pot-bellied pigs. Gristina has pleaded not guilty to one count of promoting prostitution, punishable by up to seven years in prison, and remains at Rikers Island with bond set at $2 million. Prosecutors said yesterday that Gristina's important friends could have "an interest in not allowing this case to go forward," and so she's seen as a flight risk. Her lawyer quipped, "Eliot Spitzer gets a pass, and the females all go to jail."
Gristina stands accused of running a brothel out of a "modest" East 78th Street building, where witnesses say glamorous young women came in and out, and fancy cars idled out front. No clients have been named, but the Post reports that Richard Wall, an NYPD sergeant "was ordered to appear today before the Internal Affairs Bureau with his memo book logging his work for the past five years after being seen making repeated trips in and out of the East 78th Street building that allegedly housed Gristina’s brothel."
The madam also has an alleged accomplice, but the Times notes that the co-defendant's name is blacked out on the indictment, "which could indicate that the person is cooperating with the authorities." But according to the Post and DNA Info, that's Jaynie Mae Baker, a 30-year-old Williamsburg resident and a matchmaker for VIP Life. She's reportedly "on the lam."
In Gristina's defense, her attorney argues that she was building a legit dating site that "would have rivaled Match.com." He said her bail should be lowered so she can see her four children north of the city in Monroe, where she lives with her husband (pictured with Gristina on the classy Post cover above) and a bunch of pot-bellied pigs, which she fosters. (Gristina's former husband, Dario Gristina, is running for state Assembly as a Republican; he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in 1998.)
Known as "Anna Scotland" in the city, Gristina was seen in Monroe as "a typical mom who wore jeans, a flannel shirt, baseball cap over her ponytail, old boots and a J. Crew barn jacket to drive her kids to school." And she loves animals. "Pigs are one of Anna's passions," said an acquaintance. "When people love pigs, in my opinion, they are special and unique — and in my opinion, the chosen ones — because they're just such a special animal, highly intelligent, emotional animal, so it's like working with orphans." Or men.