(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Anna Gristina, a suburban mother of four accused of running a high-end Manhattan prostitution ring, says she refused to give police any information on her alleged clients.
Gristina told the New York Post in an interview from Rikers Island that prosecutors showed her a list of 10 high-profile men and demanded she name her alleged clients. The 44-year-old said she recognized about half of the men on the list but that they were either friends or business associates.
"The ones I knew were people I've known for a long time who are in politics, investing and real estate," said Gristina, a former real-estate broker and animal rescuer from Monroe, N.Y., who said she was starting an above-board dating service.
Gristina admitted she did make millions but "for other people," helping out friends with real-estate and other ventures.
It is the first time Gristina has spoken publicly since her Feb. 22 arrest. She has pleaded not guilty to promoting prostitution
Gristina said the grilling amounted to "Tell us what we want, and we'll let you go."
"I'd bite my tongue off before I'd tell them anything," she said.
She did admit boasting in phone calls about people she knew in high places - police officers, FBI agents and politicians.
"I know people," she said. "It's like a politician. You say things to make yourself sound better."
She also admitted meeting with Morgan Stanley financial adviser David Walker on the day she was arrested.
The investment giant placed Walker on paid leave after he was linked to Gristina. He has not been charged with any crime.
Gristina claims she met with Walker only to discuss a "totally legitimate" online matching service for wealthy men and women.
"If I'm such a big, high-profile madam, making all this money, and they had to investigate me for five years, why did they arrest me on a single promoting-prostitution charge - and only after I refused to talk to them?" Gristina said.
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