Does Anna Gristina, the alleged big-money madam and prostitution ring mastermind, really need a public defender?
That's the question a Manhattan Supreme Court judge will address at a court hearing Monday morning that will determine if she has the assets to cover her legal costs.
Gristina, 44, remains at Rikers Island on $2 million bail. A judge set the amount that high after prosecutors argued the British citizen, who holds a U.S. green card, was a flight risk.
Speaking publicly for the first time Friday, Gristina scoffed at the charge she ran a multimillion-dollar brothel on the Upper East Side over the past 15 years.
"I've been struggling to keep my daughter in college to pay the tuition. Our utilities are always on the verge of being shut off," she told The New York Post from jail.
The upstate mother of four pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution after her arrest last month. Authorities nabbed her after she met with Morgan Stanley financial adviser David Walker about starting a legitimate matchmaker website, she told The Post. Walker was put on temporary leave last week, Morgan Stanley said.
Gristina also reportedly said in a wiretapped call that she had law enforcement friends who could tip her off when police appeared ready to pounce, according to prosecutors.
But she told The Post it was merely talk.
Authorities, meanwhile, want to interview a suspected accomplice in the ring, Jaynie Mae Baker, a matchmaker for the legitimate boutique firm VIP Life. Published reports Sunday said the 30-year-old, who is named in the same indictment as Gristina, could surrender as soon today.
Her attorney could not be reached for comment.
Also Monday, a judge will reportedly determine whether to place a gag order on one of Gristina’s lawyers, Peter Gleason, who has spoken to the media about the case.
Prominent defense lawyer and First Amendment advocate Ron Kuby said he plans to be at the hearing on Gleason’s behalf.
“Mr. Gleeson is acting in the great tradition of lawyers defending high-profile clients in difficult cases, and all of his statements are permissible in the court of law,” Kuby said.