An ex-madam’s take on the Anna Gristina prostitution bust

Almost four years ago, I was arrested for supplying Eliot Spitzer with call girls. The district attorney’s office instantly seized my assets and froze my bank accounts. I was charged with two felonies: money laundering in the first degree and promoting prostitution in the third degree. Bail was set at $4 million in cash or $2 million in assets. I was then taken to Rikers Island, where I spent nearly four months in solitary confinement, unable to make bail and scared to death.

This week another New York madam, Anna Gristina, was arrested. When I was in business, I knew of her. She ran a small, low-key business that operated mostly by word of mouth and did little advertising. She had been around forever.

In the wake of Gristina’s arrest, people have been asking me to provide my “expert” opinion on the industry and Anna’s indictment in particular. So here are my thoughts.

Who’s pulling the strings?

Let’s start with the most disturbing thing about this case: Gristina is charged with one count of promoting prostitution in the third degree, yet she was thrown in jail and her bail was set at $2 million.

For those of you non-criminals out there, promoting prostitution in the third degree is a Class D felony in New York. As a first-time offender, Gristina should be facing probation. There is no need to worry about flight risk or any of that nonsense because no one flees for probation. It’s a nothing charge that in many cases gets reduced to misdemeanor misconduct.

Perhaps the district attorney will add other charges, but I doubt it. The authorities have been investigating Gristina for five years and have 100 hours of audio of her talking. If there were other crimes to charge her with, they would have charged her with those by now.

It looks to me like someone is keeping Gristina in jail in order to scare her into being silent. But who could it be? It’s an election year, so my thoughts go to the politicians who were on my own client list and may very well have been on Gristina’s.

It’s important to remember that Gristina has been in business for 15 years. There is no such thing as longevity in a criminal enterprise. You don’t make a career out of being a madam. You make your money quick and then you get out. It’s as if the sands of the hour glass start moving the moment you open and you’re lucky if you get it to turn over once. Gristina evaded multiple strings of arrests — many of which occurred during the time that Eliot Spitzer was attorney general. There is no way that Gristina could have stayed in business without being tipped off by a high-ranking law enforcement official.

Winnie Wong, a booker who worked for me and for Ms. Gristina, told me that Eliot Spitzer had tipped off Gristina. I have taken and passed a lie detector test on this point. Spitzer abused his office to tell his favorite cat house that the heat was coming down (though the statute of limitations for tipping someone off about a case is only five years, so it may have expired by now).