Jaynie Baker, the second woman charged with running a New York brothel that catered to high- net-worth clients, pleaded not guilty after returning from Mexico and surrendering to authorities.
Baker, 30, entered the plea to one count of promoting prostitution in the third degree today in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. She was released after Justice Juan Merchan set her bail at $100,000, an amount agreed on by prosecutors and Baker’s lawyer.
During the arraignment hearing, Charles Linehan, a prosecutor in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., told Merchan that there had been “a lot of surveillance in this case,” including audio and video recordings and information from informants about Baker’s role in the alleged ring.
Anna Gristina, a British subject who is a U.S. resident, was arrested and charged Feb. 22 with promoting prostitution. Linehan said the investigation is continuing.
“She has been in matchmaking -- legitimate matchmaking,” said Robert Gottlieb, Baker’s lawyer, outside court. Gottlieb described his client as “a wonderful, smart, educated, caring woman.”
Baker left the courthouse without speaking to reporters and was driven away in a black town car.
Return from Mexico
Gottlieb said Baker was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with her younger sister last week when she learned from friends that reporters were trying to contact her. Gottlieb said he called Vance’s office March 9 to arrange Baker’s return and surrender.
“There was no question about her returning,” Gottlieb said after the hearing.
Gristina, a legal permanent resident of the U.S., pleaded not guilty. The Manhattan district attorney’s investigation included “at least one eyewitness account” of a sexual encounter arranged by Gristina in which minors were involved, Linehan told Merchan on Feb. 23, a day after her arrest, according to a court transcript.
Gristina has business contacts worldwide, made millions of dollars and counts “many” affluent people as friends and clients, prosecutors said, according to the transcript.
Merchan ruled earlier this week that Gristina can have free legal counsel. He will decide later this week whether Peter Gleason, a second lawyer and friend who has also been advising her, can use his $2.5 million Tribeca apartment to guarantee her bail, set at a $2 million bond or $1 million in cash.
At the time of her arrest, Gristina was in the office of “a Morgan Stanley (MS) banker who she counts as a close friend,” Linehan said. The Morgan Stanley employee is David Spencer Walker, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Gristina was at 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,” Linehan said.
Prosecutors haven’t accused 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 because Walker wasn’t named in the case.
Walker has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, Jim Wiggins, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, has said previously.
The case is People v. Gristina, 12-00751, New York State Supreme Court (338265L), New York County (Manhattan).
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