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Video: ‘Soccer Mom Madam’: My family is ‘devastated’

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    >> we begin this half hour with the exclusive interview with the woman dubbed the soccer mom madam. anna gristina is being held at reicher's island accused of running a multi-million dollar manhattan escort service . this week her legal team filed a motion to have her bacase dismissed and her bail was lowered. and we began by asking gristina what the past four months have been like for her and for her family.

    >> for my family it's just devastating. my husband is having a really hard time holding it together and my son, the young one --

    >> nicholas?

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> does he know anything about what's happening with you, anna ?

    >> he knows i'm in jail. after three months he came to see me here and he cried the whole time and begged to stay with me.

    >> an emotional anna gristina, the woman prosecutors say is a high powered madam at the center of an alleged prostitution ring , the mother of four from a quiet suburban new york town .

    >> the prosecution is accusing of of running a brothel.

    >> she is will not comment until the time of trial.

    >> reporter: if i had asked new the past had you run a data service, matchmaking service connecting wealthy men to women, how would you answer that question?

    >> i watched a show called "the millionaire matchmaker ." a friend of mine had suggested you'd be really good at it. so hi looked into opening up something called you know, the same thing.

    >> married men looking to have someone to have dinner with?

    >> very much like match.com.

    >> would it also include married men looking for someone to have sex with?

    >> i think we've answered that question. very much like match.com.

    >> if i say to you had you ever connected a married man or any man for that matter with a woman in a matchmaking service, have you done that?

    >> our response would be you sound like the manhattan district attorney's office.

    >> so you won't say to me at all whether you have been involved in running any kind of a legitimate, legal dating service in the past?

    >> given the state's allegations in this case, we'd be fools to answer your question.

    >> during the five-year investigation by the district attorney's office, gristina was allegedly caught on wire taps boasting of her close ties to law enforcement . do you recall at any time ever telling someone that you knew people in law enforcement who might able to tip you off if you were about to be april rested or help if you you were arrested?

    >> if the manhattan district attorney's office has that conversation, i want to hear it. i'm not going to try the case by innuendo.

    >> it would be problematic for anna to have had a conversation of having friends in law enforcement who would tip her off to a possible arrest because why would she be afraid or considering a possible arrest.

    >> why would it be problematic?

    >> i've never had a conversation with nen where i've talked to them about knowing people who could help me if i were arrested because i'm not afraid i was arrested.

    >> i don't know that miss gristina was afraid of being arrested. i suspect you have said many things that could look sinister by a savvy questioner.

    >> it was a small apartment. we kept ahold of it because my daughter had considered going to columbia and because the price was affordable.

    >> there was no business run out of that location?

    >> no.

    >> at the time you were aprrrested or any time prior to that when you were control of that apartment?

    >> no.

    >> i think you said in an interview you gave that you felt the prosecutors were trying to sweat you. by that you mean what? that they were going to sit you here at reicher's island, which for people who nt aren't from the new york area is a fairly notorious tough place?

    >> yes.

    >> and they were going to sit you here until u decided to cooperate.

    >> yes.

    >> you still feel that way?

    >> 100%. not a doubt in my mind.

    >> you are incredibly loyal to some people you describe as people who were friends of yours for many years. do you feel those people are returning your loyalty?

    >> i have no idea. have i no communication with anybody. i don't. i really don't know because i don't reach anybody.

    >> if you could reach some of those people, would you ask for help?

    >> yeah. i definitely would ask and would hope that they would come forward.

    >> in a sworn affidavit filed on tuesday, her legal team contends after she was picked up by investigators, they pressed her for information on five prominent moneen. she was allegedly told she didn't need a lauer and refused to cooperate.

    >> it started off very nice, like very passive, you know, we believe you could be very useful in a very big investigation we have.

    >> they began to ask you much more specific questions about a list of names. how many names were on that list?

    >> to the best of my recollection, five very prominent people.

    >> according to your sworn affidavit, prosecutors wanted information on, a, a wealthy financier with interest in real estate art sports, a man from a politically prominent family in manhattan , a prominent banker and a prominent manhattan lauer . do you have any information about people or people like those people that could make life very uncomfortable for some prominent men in this city.

    >> don't answer that. i don't know how to respond to that question. what sort of information do you have in mind, mr. lauer . you must have a reason for asking that question.

    >> because your client said she feels she's being sweated here that, she's being kept at reicher's island because they're trying to sweat information out of her. i'm simply asking do you have any information about prominent men in this city that could make life very uncomfortable for them?

    >> we don't believe she does.

    >> soap you feel they're sweating you for absolutely no reason?

    >> and i have nothing to give them. that's why i'm still here. i have nothing to give them.

    >> we should note we reached out to the district attorney's office for comment. they do not discuss open cases. gristina says family and friends are working hard to come up with the money for her bail. she hopes to be

By
TODAY contributor
updated 6/13/2012 7:56:28 PM ET 2012-06-13T23:56:28

In an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer that aired Thursday on TODAY, the suburban mother accused of running a multimillion-dollar escort service in Manhattan said that her arrest is “decimating’’ her family and that she was “shaking with terror” when she was taken into custody.

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Video: ‘Soccer Mom Madam’: My family is ‘devastated’ (on this page)

Anna Gristina, a mother of four who has been dubbed the “Soccer Mom Madam,’’ was charged in February with promoting prostitution after a five-year investigation alleged she had been running a prostitution ring from an Upper East Side apartment for a decade. She is currently in jail, and on Tuesday an appeals court cut her bail from $2 million to a $250,000 bond or $100,000 in cash.

Story: NYC ponders: Suburban mom or high-rolling madam?

“I think for me I have it easy,’’ she told Lauer in a sit-down interview at Rikers Island with her attorney. “I think it's my family who suffer, because 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.

“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.’’

Her son, Nicholas, 9, came to visit her after she had been incarcerated for three months.

“He cried the whole time and begged to stay with me,’’ a tearful Gristina said.

Image: TODAY's Matt Lauer speaks with Anna Gristina
Benita Noel  /  NBC
In an exclusive interview, TODAY's Matt Lauer speaks with Anna Gristina, the suburban mother accused of running a multimillion-dollar Manhattan escort service.

Gristina maintains that her matchmaking service was legal. She saw the show “The Millionaire Matchmaker’’ on Bravo and said a friend suggested she create something similar. Gristina’s idea was to create a high-end “sugar daddy’’ matchmaking service for wealthy men who are married — like a married version of Match.com, she said. 

Video: Alleged madam’s lawyer ‘didn’t ask’ about black book (on this page)

When asked whether the service accommodated married men looking for sexual partners, Gristina’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, intervened.

“I think we’ve answered that question,’’ he said. “Very much like Match.com.’’

Pattis also interjected when Lauer asked Gristina if she provided matchmaking services of any kind for married men or if she has ever been involved in a legitimate, legal dating service.

“Our response would be you sound like the Manhattan district attorney's office,’’ Pattis told Lauer. “Given the state's allegations in this case, and its belief that she was not (operating a legal service), we'd be fools to answer your question.’’

Gristina claimed that the site of the alleged ring is a small residential apartment that her family kept because of its affordable price and that there was no business run out of it.

Gristina also spoke about the day on which she was arrested, claiming that she was never read her rights and the police never properly identified themselves. She also claims to have been interrogated in the police car and said she was taken to a secret location.

Gristina said she was asked by police if she knew why she had been arrested and if she knew the police were from a special corruption unit. She asked for a lawyer and said she was told she didn’t need one.

Video: Will alleged madam serve house arrest in posh pad? (on this page)

“I asked for an attorney, and they cuffed me, and I thought I was being abducted because they didn't look like police,’’ she said. “I screamed on the street for people to please call 911 because I had no idea. You know, I’m walking down the street, and I’m being pulled off the street.’’

“I said, ‘I think I need a lawyer,’ ’’ she told Lauer. “I said, ‘I don’t understand why I'm here.’ It went from that to, ‘You don't need a lawyer. It’s in your best interests to talk to us first.’

“I was still shaking with terror for just being pulled off the street. I had no idea, you know, who these people were. I was never presented ... the badge you see on television with the picture and that. (They) just flashed something on their neck and said that was it.’’

Gristina’s recollection of terror at being arrested are at odds with reports that during the five-year investigation by the district attorney’s office, she was allegedly caught on wiretaps bragging of her close ties to law enforcement.

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“If the Manhattan district attorney's office has that conversation, I want to hear it,’’ Pattis said. “But we are not going to try this case by innuendo.

“I don't know that Ms. Gristina was afraid of being arrested. I suspect you've said plenty of things that could be made to look sinister by a savvy questioner.”

The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the open case.

On Tuesday, Gristina’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case, alleging in court papers that the Manhattan district attorney’s office nearly extorted her to get her to turn over information on her allegedly high-powered clients. The documents label the case a “vindictive prosecution’’ and claim that Gristina was only indicted because she wouldn’t give up the names of clients.

“It started off very nice,’’ she said about the initial interrogation. “Like very passive. ‘We believe you could be very useful in a very big investigation we have.’’’

She believes "100 percent" that prosecutors are keeping her in Rikers Island in order to "sweat her out" until she cooperates and gives up information on five alleged clients.

Gristina’s attorney denied she has information that could make life uncomfortable for some well-known figures.

“We don't believe she does, and the state does,’’ Pattis said. “Apparently it asked. You should direct that question to the district attorney’s office. Read on in the affidavit. When she asked for a lawyer what is it they said? ‘We'll see how you feel in a couple of weeks?’ It's been months.’’

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

Gristina added that friends and family are working to produce her bail money and she hopes to be home soon. The reduced package instituted on Tuesday would require Gristina to wear a monitoring bracelet at her expense if she posts bail.

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