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Free legal aid for mum 'who made $15m from her brothel'

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Anna Gristina
in court in New
York yesterday

Anna Gristina in court in New York yesterday

Miss Gristina claimed 304 E.78th Street was a refuge for a number of her friends, many of whom were models, who used the apartment to entertain their wealthy lovers behind the backs of their husbands and boyfriends

Miss Gristina claimed 304 E.78th Street was a refuge for a number of her friends, many of whom were models, who used the apartment to entertain their wealthy lovers behind the backs of their husbands and boyfriends

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Anna Gristina in court in New York yesterday

Anna Gristina, the softly spoken soccer mum alleged to have made more than $15m (€11.5m) from running a high-class brothel, was granted free legal counsel in a New York court yesterday.

Peter Gleason, the lawyer for Ms Gristina -- who was born in Scotland -- told Justice Juan Merchan yesterday that Ms Gristina didn't have "two nickels to rub together".

While granting her access to a public defender, the judge said if she was later found to have financial resources, she would be required to repay taxpayers.

Ms Gristina has pleaded not guilty.

Ms Gristina, a British citizen who is a legal, permanent resident of the US, helped manage a prostitution operation, according to her indictment.

An investigation resulted in "at least one eyewitness account" of a sexual encounter arranged by her, in which minors were involved, Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan told Mr Merchan on February 23, a day after her arrest, according to a court transcript.

The indictment blanks out the name of a second defendant. Ms Gristina, a mother of four, had business contacts worldwide, made millions of dollars and counted "many" affluent people as friends and clients, prosecutors said, according to the transcript.

At the time of her arrest, Ms Gristina was with "a Morgan Stanley banker who she counts as a close friend", Mr Linehan said.

The Morgan Stanley employee is David Spencer Walker, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Ms Gristina was at Mr Walker's office "for a meeting in which she was trying to solicit money to fund what we believe is another illicit business venture on the internet that involves matching up male clients with female prostitutes", said Mr Linehan, of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr's official corruption unit.

Accused

Prosecutors haven't accused Mr Walker of wrongdoing or identified him publicly.

He works for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the firm's retail brokerage, said the person, who didn't want to be identified.

Mr Walker had been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, Jim Wiggins, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, said previously.

Separately, Mr Merchan said at yesterday's hearing that lawyer Mr Gleason's prior statements to the press didn't violate the law.

"There is no gag order on this case, there's nothing preventing you or others from speaking about this case," Mr Merchan said.

Irish Independent