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Long IslandCrime

Accused Monroe madam Anna Gristina: 'I have nothing to give them'

NEWS 12 WESTCHESTER: Alleged Monroe Madam Anna Gristina says she ran a dating service, not a prostitution ring. (June 14, 2012)

The accused Monroe madam says Manhattan prosecutors are forcing her to sweat it out in a Rikers Island lockup because she refuses to give up the names of well-to-do clients.

"I have nothing to give them," Anna Gristina said during an interview aired Thursday on NBC's "Today" show.

"That's why I'm still here."

Gristina, 44, teared up describing a recent jailhouse visit from her 9-year-old son.

"He cried the whole time and begged to stay with me," Gristina said.

On Tuesday, a Manhattan appeals court reduced Gristina's $2 million bail to $250,000 or $125,000 cash.

So far, despite desperate pleas for donations made on her website, helpanna.org, Gristina has been unsuccessful in raising the cash necessary to set her free ahead of trial.

The mother of four faces seven years in prison for promoting prostitution. Manhattan prosecutors say she ran a brothel that catered to wealthy Manhattan power brokers out of an Upper East Side apartment.

But during the interview, Gristina insisted there was no hanky-panky going on in the small apartment. Instead, she said, she kept it because her daughter was considering attending Columbia University nearby.

Gristina's lawyer, Norman Pattis, refused to let "Today" show host Matt Lauer ask his client whether she arranged liaisons for married men through her dating service.

"You sound like the Manhattan district attorney's office," Pattis told Lauer.

Gristina -- whose website boasts of her work taking in unwanted potbellied pigs -- claims she was inspired to create a dating service for married men after watching the television show "Millionaire Matchmaker."

Pattis cut Lauer off when he asked whether her female employees would be paid to have sex with men. Gristina described her dating service as "very much like Match.com."

In an affidavit filed with a Manhattan judge this week, Pattis claims prosecutors tried to get Gristina to give up information about five "prominent" Manhattan men -- a banker, a lawyer and a financier among them.

She told Lauer her family has suffered since her February arrest.

"For my family, it's devastating," she said. "My husband is having a hard time holding it all together."

Messages left by Newsday requesting comment form Pattis were not returned.

If released, Gristina would be forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that would track her every move. And the Scottish citizen would be forced to surrender her passport.

The appeals court suggested Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan was taken in by the publicity surrounding Gristina's case when he set bail at $2 million for a low-level felony.

"We find that the amount of bail set by the trial court was unreasonable and an abuse of discretion," the five-judge panel wrote.

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