The mother of four who is accused of running a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring from an unassuming Upper East Side apartment has granted a jailhouse interview to the Post. Anna Gristina says from Rikers Island, "[The investigation is] not about me; it’s bigger than me... [Prosecutors] are trying to sweat me out. They are clearly trying to break me," but, "I’d bite my tongue off before I’d tell them anything." Well, that will make her alleged clients—who include high-powered politicians and business—happy, right?
Gristina remains in custody because she has been unable to make the $2 million bail. While she claims she and her family are not rich—"I’ve been struggling to keep my daughter in college to pay the tuition. Our utilities are always on the verge of being shut off. I can show you the bills."—prosecutors point to audiotapes of Gristina telling someone she was careful not to attract attention, "I’m not stupid. I don’t have a $2 million home and claim $30,000 a year to the IRS... All my accounts are located outside the country under another name." She told the Post about her interaction with prosecutors, "I got the impression they were trying to make a case, but they didn’t really know what it was . . . They were obviously trying to get at something":
"You know what it was? It was fishing,” Gristina said.
“I still have no idea what they wanted . . . They are trying to squeeze me for information that I don’t even know what it is, or have.”
Finally, she said, she was arrested on the single charge of promoting prostitution — a relatively minor offense.
“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 asked yesterday.
While Gristina claims she's helped people make money with real estate deals, one woman claimed to be one of the Gristina's escorts and told the Daily News that she dealt with very high-end clients. Apparently very few of the alleged trysts occurred in the extremely modest East 78th Street apartment that seems pretty downmarket (there is an incriminating drawer of condoms and lube!)—most of the "transactions" were "out-call."
But what's weird is the apparent intersection of Gristina's activities and law enforcement. A NYPD sergeant is being investigated for his tendency to be around the East 78th Street pad (Gristina claimed to have contacts who would tip her off about cops) and a photograph of Gristina in the Post showed her with her bodyguard... who happens to be a former detective with the DA's office. DNAinfo reports, "[Sly] Francis worked at the DA's office for 12 years before he retired around 2004, sources said. Sources added that while Francis worked in the DA's office he did some after hours work on the side, without elaborating."