Out of Jail

06.26.12

Anna Gristina, New York’s Alleged ‘Soccer Mom Madam,’ Gets Bail

With her bail reduced from an ‘unreasonable’ $2 million to $250,000, Anna Gristina, the New York City mother charged with promoting prostitution, is headed home. Michael Daly talks to her bail bondsman about her ankle bracelet—and her continued silence.

The alleged “Soccer Mom Madam” is finally making bail, and she still isn’t talking.

In an era when even Mafia bosses turn rat, 42-year-old Anna Gristina steadfastly refused to cooperate with prosecutors since her Feb. 21 arrest, even as she was held in jail for month after month on a $2 million bail seemingly intended less to keep her from fleeing than to make her name names.

The bail was four times that imposed on a cop charged and later convicted of using his service weapon to kidnap and rape a schoolteacher. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office sought to justify it by saying Gristina had raked in $10 million over more than a decade and had been recorded on wiretaps speaking of fleeing if she ever thought the law was closing in.

But Gristina had been charged with only a single count of promoting prostitution, though the judge in Manhattan Supreme Court seemed to heed the prosecutors. Gristina maintained she had done nothing illegal.

As Mother’s Day was followed by her older child’s high-school graduation, Gristina continued to say she had no names to name, and the prosecutors kept fighting her efforts to get the bail reduced. A panel of judges in the New York State Appellate Division finally ruled last week that the $2 million bail was “unreasonable and an abuse of discretion” and ordered it reduced to $250,000.

In stepped Ira Judelson, sometimes called “the bail bondsman to the stars.” He is the subject of an upcoming TV series and is a sadly rare breed of New Yorker, a true stand-up guy.

Judelson said a “family friend” of Gristina put up the collateral. Judelson arranged for his usual guy to come in from New Jersey to put an electronic ankle bracelet on her that will “ping” her location every three to five seconds. The bracelet is “the same that went on DSK,” he said—the same model Dominique Strauss-Kahn wore before the charges against him were dropped. Judelson’s added stipulations for Gristina included that she stay away from airports and check in with him regularly.

Barring any last-minute complications, Gristina was scheduled to be transported from the facility on Rikers Island where she had been held for more than four months to the "Tombs" adjacent to the downtown Manhattan courts. She was expected to be released into Judelson’s custody sometime between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The bracelet is “the same that went on DSK,” he said—the same model Dominique Strauss-Kahn wore before the charges against him were dropped.

Judelson had no comment about Gristina becoming an unlikely kind of hero by resisting what would be terrible pressure for a mom of any kind and refusing to buckle in an era of rats. Judelson had a singular mission in mind.

“I am very happy to get Anna Gristina home to her 9-year-old son,” he said.