(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Authorities say a suburban mother of four who is accused of running a high-end prostitution ring on the Upper East Side said she had help from police, reports CBS New York.
Prosecutors say 44-year-old Anna Gristina - a mother of four who lives in the suburbs of New York City - has been working as a high-class madam for more than 15 years, amassing millions of dollars and dozens of high-profile contacts by running an the elaborate prostitution ring out of an East 78th Street building.
Gristina, who was born in Scotland and is a British citizen with U.S. residency, is being held in Rikers Island on $2 million bond, charged with promoting prostitution. She has pleaded not guilty.
The district attorney's official corruption unit conducted months of in-depth surveillance of the prostitution ring that reportedly even involved minors.
Gristina was nabbed by law enforcement in late February while meeting with a potential investor. Prosecutors say they believe she may have been trying to get a banker from Morgan Stanley to invest in an online start-up that would match prostitutes with wealthy men.
Gristina's defense lawyer Richard Siracusa says the bail is "extremely high." He's noting she faces one low-level felony charge and has a clean record.
But Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan says Gristina was heard during the investigation saying she would flee if charged.
Linehan says that during hundreds of hours of surveillance, Gristina was heard saying that "she has connections in law enforcement who are poised to help her out, to let her know if there is trouble on the front that she needs to be concerned about," Linehan said, according to the transcript.
Prosecutors say they have cultivated informants and conducted undercover operations, Linehan told the judge last month.
"We believe that it's a very strong case against her," Linehan said.
Siracusa said there was no reason to hold her without bail and that prosecutors "did a large investigation of her, but in terms of what actually exists, in fact, and what is still ongoing investigations, a matter of speculation," according to the transcript.
If convicted, Gristina, 44, could face up to seven years in prison.