Former D.I.D. candidate offers his defense, and loft, to madam

[media-credit name="Photo by Jefferson Siegel" align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]
Pete Gleason with alleged brothel operator Anna Gristina in State Supreme Court on Monday at a hearing about who will represent Gristina — Gleason or her court-appointed lawyer. The judge set another hearing for Thurs., March 15.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Former City Council candidate Pete Gleason has recently been at the center of a media circus over the “Hockey Mom Madam” court case. The lurid story has been daily front-page fodder for the tabloids.

Gleason ran in the Council District 1 primary race in 2009 as the endorsed candidate of the powerful Downtown Independent Democrats political club. An attorney who was formerly a New York City police officer and firefighter, he has been vying for the right to represent Anna Gristina, who is charged with setting up liaisons on the Upper East Side between prostitutes and wealthy men. Gleason is a friend of Gristina’s and is seeking to represent her pro bono, though he admittedly has never tried a felony case.

Gleason has asked that Gristina’s court-appointed public defender, Richard Siracusa, be removed from the case, but the judge refused to do so. Siracusa will represent the alleged madam, but Gleason will be free to speak up in court anytime he wishes to, the judge said. Meanwhile, Siracusa has accused Gleason of being a “hindrance.”

The Downtown politico has offered to put up his Tribeca loft as security to help Gristina make her bond of $2 million. However, the prosecution has said Gristina, due to her contacts with high-powered individuals, is a flight risk. There are accusations that Gristina also had police protection for her upscale escort business. In addition, Gleason has offered to have the madam and her family live in his loft while awaiting trial, but a prosecutor blasted that as “unethical.” The judge said he would rule on Gleason’s offer on Thursday.

Out of a field of five in the 2009 Council primary, Gleason came in fourth, with 11 percent of the vote. Margaret Chin won with 40 percent of the vote, while then-incumbent Alan Gerson finished second with 31 percent.

Asked about Gleason’s efforts to represent the madam, Sean Sweeney, a power in D.I.D., declined comment.

In September 2010, at a NY Civic soiree at Bryant Park where Village Voice writer Wayne Barrett was the guest of honor, Gleason indignantly accused the investigative journalist of being a hypocrite for not denouncing the newspaper for running sex ads.

Gleason was apparently still smarting from a scathing article Barrett co-wrote a month before the District 1 primary. The piece — which Gleason derided as “vicious and malicious” — reported that he had taken off lengthy periods of injury time while a firefighter and also disparaged his record as an attorney.

A flier attacking Barrett that Gleason issued at the time, asked, “How many women have been trafficked and enslaved who appear on various Village Voice outlets? Is it appropriate for Mr. Barrett to derive financial gain, in the form of a paycheck, financed in part, from the exploitation of women?”

Speaking to The Villager at the time, Gleason said, “If you play piano in a brothel, are you part of the problem or the solution? You have Asian women performing massage in the back of the Village Voice — they’re prostitutes, let’s not sugarcoat it.”

Attempts to reach Gleason for comment were unsuccessful. He did not respond to either an e-mail or a voice mail message requesting comment. Several other calls were placed to two of his phone numbers but the voice mail box was always full.

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