Monday, 22 Apr 2024

Scottish madam jailed for running New York vice ring seeks to appeal conviction

A Scottish madam is seeking to overturn her conviction for running a high-end vice ring in New York. 

Anna Gristina, 55, whose reputed clients included film stars, billionaires and politicians, was apprehended following an undercover FBI sting in 2012.

She served four months on remand at the notorious Rikers Island prison.

According to prosecutors, Gristina, who was raised in Kirkliston, West Lothian, earned £6 million by operating a prostitution ring catering to wealthy and influential men on the Upper East Side. 

Gristina pleaded guilty to one count of promoting prostitution and received a sentence of five years’ probation and time served. 

Today, she lives in a modest house in New York state, tending pigs and writing children’s books. 

Last year, she said in an interview that she’d once declined an offer to send some of her workers to spend time with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2019 committed suicide in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking. 

She told the interviewer: ‘I did a little digging and my friend told me to stay away. If I had known more at the time I would have turned him in.’

The mother of four now claims she in fact ran a matchmaking service, and never forced any of her employees to perform a sexual act with any of her clients. 

She says that her guilty plea was coerced, and is determined to overturn her conviction. 

Her legal team has filed a lawsuit against the judge who presided over her case in 2012, seeking the release of transcripts from the proceedings. 

Although their request was denied last year, Gristina has now taken the matter to the US Court of Appeals in the hopes of obtaining access to the unsealed court records, which she believes will enable her to make a ‘meaningful motion’ to challenge her guilty plea.

Lawrence LaBrew, the lawyer representing Gristina, said: ‘Our position is that the minutes should not remain sealed.

‘She wants to make a motion to set aside the judgement in her case and she needs those minutes so the defence can make an informed decision as to how to pursue that motion.

‘The claim is she was coerced into pleading guilty. In order to find out what exactly was going on, and who said what, we need the minutes.’

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