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‘Soccer Mom Madam’ pleads guilty to promoting prostitution

The suburban mother of four accused of running an upscale escort service in Manhattan pleaded guilty on Tuesday and will be ordered to serve five years of probation.
/ Source: NBCNewYork.com

The suburban mother of four accused of running an upscale escort service in Manhattan pleaded guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday.

Anna Gristina, 44, of Monroe, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a single count of promoting prostitution, stemming from a July 2011 tryst she allegedly arranged involving two women and an undercover officer posing as a client.

Gristina will be ordered to serve five years of probation when she's sentenced on Nov. 20. The four months she's already spent behind bars will count toward the jail portion of her sentence, and she won't have to serve any additional time.

Prosecutors said their five-year investigation revealed Gristina had a roster of wealthy, well-placed clients and boasted of law-enforcement connections during 15 years in a business that made her millions.

She has maintained she was merely starting a dating service.

Gristina was arrested Feb. 22 and was held for months on $2 million bond. An appeals court in June called the amount "unreasonable and an abuse of discretion" and lowered it.

She was released on $250,000 bond in June after four months behind bars.

Gristina's lawyer unsuccessfully tried to have the case thrown out in August, arguing that the DA's office "vindictively prosecuted her as a result of her failure to cooperate with investigators" during what he called an illegal interrogation.

Gristina said in court papers that investigators shrugged off her requests for a lawyer and told her they'd let her go if she gave them information about five men — not named in her filings, but described as a financier, an international banker and a member of a politically connected family, among others.

The DA's office countered in court papers that Gristina "has not produced a shred of evidence of actual vindictiveness."

A grand jury decided there was enough evidence to indict Gristina before her arrest, undermining her argument that she was prosecuted because she didn't cooperate, Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Roper and Charles Linehan wrote in a July filing.

The judge's ruling didn't address the way Gristina was questioned, saying simply that there was adequate evidence for the case to go forward.

Jaynie Baker, accused of assisting Gristina as a matchmaking recruiter, struck a deal with prosecutors in August.