Anna Gristina mostly kept her face hidden from cameras as...

Anna Gristina mostly kept her face hidden from cameras as she appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court where she was charged with running a multi-million dollar prostitution ring from a building on the upper East Side. (March 6, 2012) Credit: Marc A. Hermann

A Manhattan appeals court ruled Tuesday that an upstate mom accused of running a high-priced prostitution ring in New York City had been held in jail for more than three months on bail that was eight times higher than it should have been.

The $2 million bail for Anna Gristina, who has been held at Rikers Island since February on a promoting prostitution charge, was reduced to a $250,000 bond by a five-judge appeals panel, which found that, in concert with an ankle bracelet, it would be enough to ensure that she shows up in court.

"The amount of bail set by the trial court was unreasonable and an abuse of discretion," the judges said. " . . . Notwithstanding the notoriety of this case, petitioner is charged with a class D, nonviolent felony and she has no criminal record. In addition, she is a long-term resident of Orange County, is married and is the mother of four children, including a 9-year-old child, who are United States citizens."

Defense lawyer Norman Pattis, who argued last week that prosecutors from District Attorney Cy Vance's office demanded a high bail to try to pressure Gristina into flipping on high-end customers who allegedly used her service, praised the decision, but said it isn't yet certain she'll be able to come up with the cash needed to post a bond.

"Anna Gristina is one step closer to home," he said. "But it's a lot of money to raise."

Vance's office, which had been investigating Gristina for years, argued that she had said in one wiretapped phone conversation that she would flee to Canada if police ever closed in on her. Prosecutors had no comment Tuesday.

The state Appellate Division reversed rulings by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who set the $2 million bail and refused to lower it, and by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon, who found that Merchan had not abused his discretion.

Gristina, 44, of Monroe, is accused of running an escort service for rich customers for the past 10 years, and allegedly bragged at one time that she had law enforcement contacts. She is a Scottish citizen.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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