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No bail reduction for New York's 'Soccer Mom Madam'

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2012 2:13 PM
No bail reduction for New York's 'Soccer Mom Madam'

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The woman accused of running a multimillion-dollar brothel out of her Manhattan apartment will remain in jail after a judge on Thursday rejected her new lawyer's request to reduce her $1 million bail.

Anna Gristina appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court with a new criminal defense lawyer, Gary Greenwald, who said he was retained late Wednesday by Gristina's friends and relatives.

The case has captured the attention of New York's elite since prosecutors said surveillance tapes recorded Gristina boasting of rich and powerful clients and of law enforcement ties she said would protect her from prosecution. Tabloids have dubbed the mother of four the "Soccer Mom Madam."

Greenwald asked Acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Manuel Merchan to lessen her bail, arguing a single felony count did not warrant such a high figure. She has pleaded not guilty.

"This isn't a murder case," he said. "This isn't a drug case. This isn't a rape case."

Prosecutors say Gristina poses a significant flight risk, pointing to wiretaps they say captured Gristina claiming she had stashed away millions of dollars in profits. A lawyer who previously represented her said she was broke.

Merchan said he saw no reason to reduce Gristina's bail, set at $1 million cash or $2 million bond.

"It's based upon all the information that's been presented to the court to date, and that goes to the risk of flight," he said.

Greenwald, who once represented convicted Mafia boss Vincent Gigante, has replaced Peter Gleason, a friend who had been working for Gristina for free, and a court-appointed lawyer.

On Monday, Gleason had made an unusual request: use his Manhattan loft apartment as collateral for Gristina's bail and allow her to move into his home wearing an electric monitoring anklet. Prosecutors had opposed that offer, arguing that allowing a lawyer to pay his client's bail posed serious ethical concerns.

Gristina was arrested last month on a charge of promoting prostitution after what prosecutors have described as a five-year investigation, complete with extensive recordings and wiretaps.

Gristina's co-defendant, Jaynie Mae Baker, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of promoting prostitution. She surrendered herself to authorities after having been in Mexico for several days, according to her lawyer, Robert Gottlieb. She posted $100,000 bond following her arraignment and is due back in court March 27.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)