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Accused 'Millionaire Madam' pleads guilty

September 26, 2012 2:49:21 AM PDT
The accused Upper East Side madam Anna Gristina has pleaded guilty to the one count of promoting prostitution.

She was sentenced to time served. The judge had indicated that Gristina would receive less jail time if she pleaded guilty than if she had been convicted at trial, which was scheduled in October.

She spent five months at Rikers Island because she was unable to post a $2 million bail. She won a bail reduction and was free in June.

The Scotland-born Gristina, 44, is a mother of four who tends to rescued pigs at her home in Monroe, N.Y. But prosecutors say she also was the madam of an upscale sex service for 15 years, making millions of dollars and boasting that she had contacts in law enforcement who could tip her off if she was about to get busted.

Gristina has said she was merely starting a matchmaking service, not peddling prostitutes. She has pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution, a low-level felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Gristina was arrested on Feb. 22 as she left a fundraising meeting at a friend's Morgan Stanley office, where she'd been trying to raise money for her business, prosecutors say.

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan initially ordered her jailed on $2 million bond and declined requests to reduce it. But an appeals court called the amount "unreasonable and an abuse of discretion" and lowered it to $250,000 on June 12. She was set free, but remained on an ankle monitor until Tuesday's court appearance.

Her lawyer said he would have liked to take the case to trial, but Gristina wanted it over.

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