New York "Soccer Mom Madam" trial set for October

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 16, 2012 2:21 PM
New York "Soccer Mom Madam" trial set for October

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Accused Manhattan madam Anna Gristina will face trial October 15 after a New York judge refused on Thursday to throw out the prostitution charge against her - and it appears she will stand trial alone.

Gristina's co-defendant, Jaynie Mae Baker, did not appear in Manhattan state Supreme Court alongside Gristina as originally scheduled. This week the New York Post and other local media reported Baker had reached a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony.

Baker's attorney did not immediately return calls for comment.

"I believe there was one (a plea deal) because she's not here today," Gristina's lawyer, Norman Pattis, said after the court session. "I'm preparing my cross-examination ... . I'm unaware of any evidence that she has that hurts my client."

The case has made headlines in New York's tabloid press, which has dubbed the 44-year-old suburban mother of four the "Soccer Mom Madam" and the "Hockey Mom Madam."

Pattis, the ninth defense lawyer to appear in connection with the case, said Gristina would not consider a plea deal because of the risk that she could be deported to her native Scotland for admitting to a crime of moral turpitude.

"Ms. Gristina is going to trial," he said.

Gristina faces one felony count of promoting prostitution after what prosecutors have described as a five-year investigation involving wiretaps and surveillance. They have accused Gristina of operating a high-end brothel out of a Manhattan apartment.

She denies the allegations, saying she was running a dating service.

Gristina was released on bail in June after four months in jail, after an appeals court ruled that her bail was too high. She is wearing an electronic monitor while at home in upstate New York.

Baker was indicted on the same charge.

At Gristina's court appearance, Acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan denied her motion to dismiss the case, as expected.

She was accompanied by family members, including her husband and three of her children, and left court in a black car as photographers swarmed around her.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Dan Burns and Xavier Briand)