Alleged Millionaire Madam: Arrest "Decimating" Family

A judge reduced Anna Gristina's bond this week and her legal team hopes to raise the money to get her out shortly

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The millionaire madam Anna Gristina remains behind bars at Rikers while her family and defense team try to come up with the $250,000 bond to get her out of jail. Now she breaks her silence with an exclusive interview with NBC. Katy Tur has more. (Published Thursday, Jun 14, 2012)

    The suburban soccer mom accused of running a multimillion-dollar escort service out of an Upper East Side apartment for 10 years tells the "Today" show in a jailhouse interview that her arrest on promoting prostitution charges is "decimating" her family.

    Anna Gristina, a mother of four, has been jailed at Rikers since her February arrest. A judge agreed Tuesday to slash her $2 million bond to a $250,000 bond or $100,000 in cash, and her legal team said they hope to raise the funds by the end of next week.

    Despite spending the last four months behind bars, Gristina says she's had it easy compared to the challenges faced by her family as a result of her incarceration.

    "I'm able to at least hide in here from it all. My children, they get followed by the press. My husband almost got run off the road yesterday by press," she told "Today."

    “It's caused my son to come out of school at one point. It's caused my daughter to suffer from anxiety and she's seeing a doctor. It's just decimating my family." (Scroll down to watch full interview.)

    Prosecutors say Gristina peddled prostitutes for more than a decade and boasted that she had law enforcement contacts. Her lawyers have said she was merely starting a matchmaking business, one that she maintains was completely legal. Gristina said she came up with the idea for an elite "sugardaddy" matchmaking service after seeing the show "The Millionaire Matchmaker" on Bravo.

    Her plan was to match rich married men with dates. Gristina's lawyer, Norm Pattis, would not comment in the "Today" interview on the nature of the services provided. When Gristina was asked if her service assisted men seeking sexual partners, Pattis stepped in, simply likening it to Match.com.

    Gristina has said the Upper East Side apartment prosecutors allege headquartered her escort operation is in fact a tiny residential apartment her family kept because it wasn't too expensive. She said no business was run out of it.

    She also claimed she was never read her rights on the day of her arrest and that the officers who took her into custody never identified themselves as police. When she asked for an attorney, she was told she didn't need one, Gristina claims.

    The district attorney's office declined to comment on the case, citing its ongoing nature.

    Gristina's attorney filed a motion to have the case dismissed earlier this week, alleging prosecutors squeezed her for information on her allegedly powerful clientele. Gristina's legal team has claimed that she was only indicted because she refused to turn over information that could bring those high-powered people down, but the attorneys deny she has any such information to impart.

    "I have nothing to give them,’’ said Gristina. “That's why I'm still here."

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