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Accused N.Y. Madam Pleads Guilty to Promoting Prostitution

Anna Gristina, a New York woman charged with running a brothel that prosecutors said catered to wealthy clients, pleaded guilty to one count of promoting prostitution.

Gristina, 45, entered her plea today before Justice Juan Merchan of state Supreme Court in Manhattan. Merchan said he will sentence her on Nov. 20 to six months in jail and five years’ probation, with credit for the four months she already served at Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex.

“We would have liked to have tried the case but it’s very difficult to say ‘no’ to a good offer and we were made one,” her attorney, Norman Pattis, told reporters after the plea. “I think Miss Gristina realized that defending the case would require her to let me hurt people close to her and out of loyalty to those people she’s ended the struggle.”

Prosecutors said in court that they haven’t found any evidence to support Gristina’s claims that she had connections in city, state and federal agencies, including the New York City Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Many Years

“We are left with a straightforward promoting prostitution case -- a defendant who ran a brothel for many years and who profited from the sex trade,” Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan told Merchan in court today.

Gristina, a British subject who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., acknowledged during her plea that she “knowingly advanced and profited from prostitution by managing, supervising, controlling and owning a prostitution business and enterprise” involving activity by two or more prostitutes between July 18 and July 27, 2011.

She admitted that she arranged through telephone calls, text messages and at least one face-to-face meeting for a man known to her as Anthony to engage in sexual conduct with the two prostitutes at an apartment on East 78th Street.

Gristina, a mother of four, left court with her husband and children without speaking to reporters. Merchan -- who said it was “poor judgment” to bring her children to court -- warned Gristina, who is Scottish, that she could face deportation because of the plea.

“I’m disappointed,” Pattis, her lawyer, said. “It would have been a fun trial, but I think she made an intelligent choice that benefits her family.”

The case is People v. Gristina, 12-00751, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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