By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Accused Manhattan madam Anna Gristina, who has been arguing for her release from jail since her arrest in February, has decided to remain behind bars - for now.
Gristina, 44, rejected an offer on Monday from one of her previous attorneys, Peter Gleason, to put up his Manhattan apartment as collateral for her $250,000 bond, preferring instead to remain in a Rikers Island jail while her family tries to come up with enough cash to secure her release.
The surprising development was the latest twist in a case that has thus far defied expectations at every turn. Defense attorney Norman Pattis, the ninth defense lawyer to appear in connection with the case, said she hoped to have her own bail money by Tuesday.
"Ms. Gristina has authorized me to inform the court that as much as she appreciates Mr. Gleason's generosity in putting up his real estate, she does not want to be released under that bond package," Pattis said in court on Monday.
Gleason, who represented Gristina for a short while, has been a controversial figure in the case, drawing skepticism from the presiding judge, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, because of his limited felony experience and quarreling with her court-appointed attorney. He was not available for comment following the hearing.
The case has captured the attention of the New York tabloids, which have dubbed Gristina, a suburban mother of four, the "Soccer Mom Madam" and the "Hockey Mom Madam." Prosecutors say she ran a highly profitable brothel out of a Manhattan apartment and charged her with a single count of promoting prostitution after a five-year investigation involving surveillance and wiretaps.
She has pleaded not guilty. Last week, an appeals court lowered her bail from $2 million to $250,000 and an ankle bracelet, saying her charge did not justify such a high bond.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)
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