Hugging her husband and four children and nuzzling her family pets Tuesday night, alleged Manhattan "Soccer Mom Madam" Anna Gristina enjoyed her first taste of freedom after spending more than four months behind bars.
Released from Riker’s Island after posting a $250,000 bond, Gristina was seen clutching a dozen red roses and hugging her husband and son amidst a crush of media members as she exited the Manhattan Detention Complex shortly after 9 p.m. Gristina, 44, then returned to her home in the New York suburb of Monroe to enjoy a reunion with her family for the first time since her arrest on Feb. 22.
"I'm just going to walk around the garden and just feel the grass under my feet, smell the fresh air, and just watch the sun coming up," she said while allowing NBC News cameras to exclusively film her return home. "(I want to) see what it's like to be back home again and let it really settle in that this is home again. I'm back. It's real."
But while Gristina has been freed from custody, she will have to wear an electronic ankle monitor until her trial. She has been charged with running a high-end prostitution service out of an apartment on the Upper East Side of New York that prosecutors allege produced $10 million during a 15-year period. Gristina has refused to provide the names of any alleged clients and has pled not guilty, claiming she was just running a dating service.
On Tuesday night, she was more focused on hugging her children, petting the dog and nuzzling the family’s pet pig.
"It's too good to be true," she said. "I'm almost scared to go to sleep because I'm scared I'm going to wake up and I'm not going to be here."
Gristina is looking for a return to normalcy after spending nearly 19 weeks behind bars. As part of the terms of her bond, she also had to surrender her passport and is not allowed to leave the New York tri-state area.
"I feel like I'm in a déjà vu, a dream or something," Gristina said. "It's just all so shocking, because you get so programmed to a certain routine and being in a cell, and it's almost like the outside world vanishes."