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

An upstate mom accused of running a high-end Upper East Side brothel was kept jailed on $2 million bail she can't afford to post Tuesday after prosecutors said wealthy "friends" and law enforcement accomplices might help her flee.

Anna Gristina, 44, of Monroe, has "certain high-wealth individuals as friends and associates who have an interest in not having this case move forward," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan said. "They would be able to help her flee."

Gristina has been detained since Feb. 23 on a charge of promoting prostitution, a Class D felony. The case made headlines Tuesday after word leaked that she had bragged on wiretapped calls that she had protection from someone in law enforcement.

The mother of four tried to hide her face from cameras during a 20-minute hearing as her lawyer argued that the woman with no record who keeps rescue animals at her Orange County home deserved lower bail.

Outside court, defense lawyer Peter Gleason said his client was in the real estate business and had been trying to develop a dating website like He claimed that the high bail reflected a double standard for women accused of involvement in prostitution. "There is a hypocrisy in this country," Gleason said.

Prosecutors say Gristina was under investigation for five years. On wiretapped phone calls, she allegedly said she had "worldwide" business contacts, and claimed to have made millions during 15 years in the prostitution business. A British citizen from Scotland with a U.S. green card, she also allegedly told associates that she had "connections" in law enforcement who kept her apprised of investigations during the Eliot Spitzer scandal and would warn her if raids or arrests were imminent.

Prosecutors said they had 50 to 100 hours of video and audio recordings in the case, including surveillance of encounters at the apartment on East 78th Street, where prostitutes met with clients. One cooperating witness, a prostitute, allegedly told investigators that she witnessed an encounter involving a minor. Gleason denounced that charge. "I would not be standing here if I thought any children were involved," he told reporters. "The facts will come out that that is not the case. "

Prosecutors said Gristina was arrested on Feb. 22 after meeting with a Morgan Stanley banker, a "close friend" whom she was soliciting to invest in her planned Internet site. They described the site as "a business venture that involves matching up male clients with female prostitutes."

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