A woman accused of running a high-class Manhattan brothel said in a jail interview published Friday that prosecutors showed her a list of 10 high-profile men and demanded she name her alleged clients.
Anna Gristina told the New York Post in an interview from Rikers Island that she recognized about half of the men on the list but that they were either friends or business associates.
"The ones I knew were people I've known for a long time who are in politics, investing and real estate," said Gristina, a former real-estate broker and animal rescuer from Monroe, N.Y., who said she was starting an above-board dating service.
She said she did make millions but "for other people," helping out friends with real-estate and other ventures.
It is the first time Gristina has spoken publicly since her Feb. 22 arrest. She has pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution
The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment.
"I'd bite my tongue off before I'd tell them anything," she said.
Gristina said the grilling amounted to "Tell us what we want, and we'll let you go."
She did admit boasting in phone calls about people she knew in high places _ police officers, FBI agents and politicians.
"I know people," she said. "It's like a politician. You say things to make yourself sound better."
She also admitted meeting with Morgan Stanley financial adviser David Walker on the day she was arrested.
The investment giant placed Walker on paid leave after he was linked to Gristina. He has not been charged with any crime.
The meeting with Walker was to discuss a "totally legitimate" online matching service for wealthy men and women, she said.
Gristina also talked about her not-yet-arrested co-defendant in the prostitution ring, Jaynie Baker, who she said was on vacation and not evading authorities.
"She just found that she's a supposed fugitive," she said. "She's a professional matchmaker ... that's what she's doing for me."
"If I'm such a big, high-profile madam, making all this money, and they had to investigate me for five years, why did they arrest me on a single promoting-prostitution charge _ and only after I refused to talk to them?" Gristina said.
Information from: New York Post, http://www.nypost.com