The Monroe mom whom Manhattan prosecutors say ran a high-priced call-girl operation has changed lawyers again, despite a legal victory on Friday by her most recent lawyer.
Anna Gristina has been held for months on a felony charge of promoting prostitution. A judge in Manhattan set her bail at $1 million cash or $2 million bond after prosecutors argued that Gristina, who's not a U.S. citizen, has powerful supporters and connections overseas who could help her flee.
Gristina's family had retained Chester lawyer Gary Greenwald to represent her. On Friday, Greenwald convinced the Appellate Division to agree to hear an appeal of the high bail on an expedited basis. Arguments for a bail reduction will be held June 7, Greenwald said.
Prosecutors opposed expediting the arguments. Greenwald said Wednesday that the court's decision to hear the case quickly was “an enormous victory.”
But in the interim, Gristina has switched lawyers. She is now represented by Connecticut lawyer Norm Pattis, who has a hard-charging reputation as a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer and who is known as a critic of prosecutions he views as unwarranted and malicious.
Greenwald said the change of counsel was due to “a significant disagreement” as to how to proceed with Gristina's case, and that she is certainly entitled to the lawyer of her choice. He wished her and her family well.
“In order for a criminal case to positively proceed, it is necessary for both lawyer and defendant to maintain a shared vision for the course of the defense,” Greenwald wrote in a prepared statement. “At this time, unfortunately this is not the case. I wish her new attorney great success.”
Gristina and her new attorney are expected to appear before Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan Wednesday.
Gristina and her husband, Sullivan County native Kelvin Gorr, live in Monroe with Gristina's four children and three rescued dogs. She took in rescue pigs as co-owner of the Pig Placement Network.
Pattis will lead a defense team including Attorney Peter Gleason, who already briefly represented Gristina and offered to put up his $2 million TriBeCa apartment as collateral for her bail, sources said.
Pattis describes Gristina's $2 million bail as “not only legally excessive and inappropriate given the single charge” but also evidence that “the Manhattan DA is playing some broader game in which Anna has been swept up as some sort of pawn.”