Manhattan Madam Case Could End With a Whimper

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The arrest of Anna Gristina, a mother of four accused of running an Upper East Side brothel, started out promising enough in terms of tabloid fodder, as tales from her upstate pig farm were mixed with vague allegations of an important clientele. But Gristina has promised to keep her associations quiet and, after a few weeks, she remains at Rikers Island, while the good dirt teased in the local press has been replaced by dull hand-wringing about her lawyer situation. Today, the Post reports that three others tied to the ring have been arrested and are cooperating; Gristina could plead guilty to the one promoting-prostitution charge against her.

"You always consider a plea in any case...from a murder to spitting on the sidewalk," said Gristina's new attorney Gary Greenwald. His client could serve as little as a year in prison because it's her first offense, and a nonviolent one.

That deal looks sweeter amid the news that Gristina's alleged money launderer, a "stout" Soviet, and two of her calls girls are working with prosecutors. If she took a plea, "She'd be near her home and family [in upstate Monroe], she doesn't give up anybody, she doesn't make any enemies," a source told the Post. "That's how she's leaning right now." The real losers in that case would be law enforcement, which really built up this story in the press, and the audience, us included, who bought it.