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Soccer Mom Madam or Legitimate Dating Service?

Aired March 12, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York City.

The alleged soccer mommy madam back before a judge today. You will not believe what her lawyer is willing to do to spring her out of Rikers Island. Watch.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, a slew of secrets spill out in the so-called soccer mom madam case. Details of the inner workings of this woman`s alleged prostitution ring as her lawyer reportedly puts up his own fancy New York condo to get her out of Rikers Island.

Tonight, I`ll talk to a former Hollywood madam and the head of a specialized online dating service about the world`s oldest profession.

And are celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Brooke Mueller and Charlie Sheen slipping through the system after getting in trouble with the law? When average people get hard time in prison. Tonight, I`ll talk to outraged families looking to fix our two-tiered justice system.

This as new video of Sheen appearing to slur his words after a rock concert has some asking, is he falling back into his bad habits?

Plus, for the first time, Whitney Houston`s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, pulls back the curtain in a revealing emotional interview with Oprah. What about those rumors of Bobbi Kristina`s erratic behavior after her mother`s death, and what about the millions she`s set to inherit? We`re taking your calls for the full hour.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Soccer mom madam? Headlines like "Madam X" and "High-class Madam Busted."

PETER GLEASON, DEFENSE LAWYER: An individual who is a caring, loving mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her defense lawyer, Peter Gleason, is offering to put up his own home as collateral to get her out of jail.

GLEASON: I believe this young lady is being railroaded by the system.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A so-called soccer mom who cops say led a double life as a madam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boasted of making millions.

VICKY PARKO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Definitely not a millionaire. If she was a millionaire, she`d be out -- she`d be out on bail by now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By night, prosecutors claim she ran a brothel out of this modest Manhattan apartment house.

Odd case that raises questions about who may be exposed through her little black book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boldfaced names from business, politics and sports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very well-dressed gentlemen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they baseball players or more financial guys?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The money guys. I can`t wait to see that list.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Neither can I. Tonight, is she a filthy rich sex broker or a penniless suburban mom struggling to pay her electric bills?

A mother of four accused of running a multimillion-dollar brothel. There seems to be more secrets spilling now than when the case first broke. We`re trying to uncover the real facts tonight.

Was Anna Gristina trying to set up a legitimate dating service online or was she just trying to take her alleged prostitution ring to the World Wide Web? She told "The New York Post," she`d, quote, "bite her tongue off" before she would spill the beans.

Here`s what we know for sure tonight. The 44-year-old remains locked up in Rikers Island at least until Thursday. That`s when a judge will decide whether to allow her attorney to put up his own fancy Tribeca lot -- and that`s fancy -- as bail.


GLEASON: I`ve interviewed her extensively. I`ve met with her family. I feel so comfortable giving them access to my place. I want them to move in with me. And she has said, and I agree, she wants an ankle bracelet. And she wants to be confined to my loft.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fascinating. Is he good hearted or is he making a lot of, let`s say, publicity? Is he getting a lot of publicity as a result of taking on this case?

What do you at home think about this wild case? I want to hear from you. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Gristina claims she was trying to set up a legitimate online dating service. OK. Prosecutors believe she was just trying to take her prostitution services to the Internet.

Straight out to a gentleman who is -- we`re so delighted to have him here tonight. Steve Pasternak. And you run a successful dating service called And I`ve got to spell it out, because there`s various "Sugardaddies." OK. S-U-G-A-R-D-A-D-D-I-E. Is that right? Did I get it right?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Now, I`ve got to say, the first thing that popped out at me, I must say is, quote, "I am a woman looking for a sugar daddie." OK, then there`s another quote you can click on: "I am a man looking for a sugar babe."

So I`ve got to ask you a provocative question, Steve.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What would you say to people who might conclude, "Hey, that sounds a whole lot like selling sex for money," which last time I checked is the definition of prostitution?

PASTERNAK: Well, there`s a definite difference. Prostitution is a business transaction in which the woman would be compensated on a per-meet basis in exchange for her time or for sex.

Whereas, a sugar daddy relationship is an ongoing relationship where there`s an actual ongoing relationship like any other, except the difference being that the man is usually a bit older and financially successful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. I believe that this is an equal opportunity sort of genre or field. Because there are plenty of cougars out there who might have a lot of change, who might be looking for a young stud. You could even have a female looking for another female, a male looking for another male. I see all those possibilities in these sites that I look at. I don`t know about yours. But various sites.

But the bottom line seems to be, in all of these sites, that it`s somebody who has money hooking up with somebody who doesn`t and may have other things like attractiveness.

I want to go out to Jodi "Babydol" Gibson. She is the author of "Secrets of a Hollywood Super Madam," former Hollywood madam.

I am not passing judgment here. I am simply trying to figure out what the heck is going on with these sites and with what this woman says she was doing. Where do you draw the line, Jodi "Babydol" Gibson, former madam, between hooking up people for dating -- some may have money, some may -- don`t, some don`t, some are attractive, some are older -- with prostitution?

JODI "BABYDOL" GIBSON, FORMER MADAM (via phone): Are you talking to me, Jane?


GIBSON: Yes. It`s a real gray area. The truth of the matter is that online activity is where prostitution has gone. This case is a huge win for law enforcement because frankly, and I mentioned this when I was on the show recently with you, that these kind of services where girls are there at a brothel, they`re obsolete.

So this is a huge win for law enforcement, because all of these activities are transpiring online today. That`s what`s happened. It`s moved from the in-house environment to the online environment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you talked about it going online. But there was actually a physical location according the prosecutors. And "The New York Post" got an exclusive peek inside the alleged Manhattan brothel run by this alleged soccer mom madam. And the photos of the inside, well, they don`t exactly say sex den to me.

But this is -- you`re looking at it right here. It`s just a house, and then there`s a drawer with some condoms and some lubricant. So there`s the bed.

So it`s a cramped, cheap looking little place. Now, if there was anybody getting busy here, it wasn`t in high style.

Private investigator Vinny Parko says she`s [SIC] met -- he`s met this alleged madam and been to this place, calls it a dump. Listen to this.


PARKO: I was at the apartment once. The apartment is a walk-up. It`s a bedroom that`s about six foot by 12 foot. And a living room that`s about 10 feet by 12 feet. No kitchen, a little walk-in kitchen and really not -- almost a dump. OK? You can`t have six women in that apartment at any one given time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re very delighted to have with us tonight Eric Snyder, former New York prosecutor.

Try to put this in perspective and give us some clarity here. You have a woman who says, "Oh, I wasn`t doing anything wrong. I was trying to establish a legitimate site." You`ve got prosecutors saying, "No, you`re running a brothel, and you`re just trying to put it on the Web." What say you?

ERIC SNYDER, FORMER NEW YORK PROSECUTOR: Fair bet, she`s running a prostitution ring. This is the Manhattan`s D.A.`s office. This is a serious unit within the Manhattan D.A.`s office, the official corruption unit. It`s headed up by a very seasoned prosecutor of 30 years who -- he knows how to investigate. He used to head up the homicide unit. He knows what he`s doing. If they`re going to bring a charge, they`re going to bring a charge with the evidence that will support the charge.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, some wonder, could this really be about potential police corruption. Anna Gristina reportedly was bragging on undercover tapes that she had friends in high places and powerful connections in law enforcement -- cops, FBI -- who could tip her off if police were about to raid her.

Well, new reports now claim her bodyguard, her personal bodyguard, who followed her around to protect her when she was in the city, is this man, reportedly retired New York City police detective Sylvan Francis, who actually worked at the Manhattan district attorney`s squad. the very same department now investigating Anna Gristina.

And "The New York Pace -- Post" claims that the D.A.`s office just discovered this? Despite their five-year investigation?

I`ve got to go back to you, Eric. could this be blowing up in the D.A.`s office face?

SNYDER: Well, it could be. And certainly, in the press it has. Because it is an embarrassment to have a former employee of the D.A.`s office being pulled into an investigation.

But it remains to be seen whether or not this person actually was a bodyguard or worked in this prostitution ring in any way, shape or form.

I`ll tell you, if I were former Detective Francis, I`d be comforted by the fact that this will be thoroughly investigated. If he is innocent and if he was a friend or he was just posing in a photo or there were some circumstances that were not criminal, I would think that this unit in particular would investigate that thoroughly and probably not charge unless they could sort out any inconsistencies or any gaps in the evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But John Lucich, former criminal investigator, if you`ve got a detective who is working with the D.A.`s office being this lady`s bodyguard while there, at one point, I think there was overlap, allegedly, investigating her for alleged prostitution, this is something out of, like, an HBO special. I mean, this is scandalous.

JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Right. But that`s what Eric said. We have to see where this investigation is going.

Remember, this is not going to come back and haunt the D.A.`s office, if part of that investigation included finding out if there`s any leaks inside the D.A.`s office or any police agency.

We could never say that one agency is never going to have any bad apples. But part of that investigation may be being conducted just for that reason by the Manhattan D.A.`s office. It`s a great agency. I`ve worked with them on other cases, and I got to believe they`re doing the right thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Jack, Wisconsin, hey, we`re going to get to you right on the other side. Your calls are lining up: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Ahead, did Charlie Sheen fall off the wagon?

But first, we`ve got -- was he ever on the wagon? I`m curious about that, too. But first, more Manhattan alleged madam developments. It`s hard to believe, but it`s all apparently happening. Not on a TV show, not on a reality show. But in real life here in the Big Apple.


GLEASON: I really have a fundamental belief in justice, and I despise when somebody is, what I perceive, being bullied. Here`s a mother of four who is ripped away from her family.




GLEASON: Miss Gristina was sent to Rikers Island under the ominous cloud that somehow she was peddling underage children. I`ll tell you, as a former police officer, that is a death warrant to send somebody to Rikers Island or any correctional institution in this state or this country under the ominous cloud of abusing children. But whoever is leaking this information has backpedaled away from that very issue.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the attorney for Anna Gristina, seen here with her husband. And boy, they know how to take a picture, right? Who knows? Maybe this was their holiday card.

But seriously, he`s claiming that he had no idea that she was allegedly running a prostitution ring for 15 years. They live about two hours outside the city in a very modest home with their four children, and they`re claiming that they`re the victims here. We`ll see.

Meantime, a woman named Irma Nici has come forward claiming she was one of Anna Gristina`s escorts or girls. Listen to what this woman`s attorney told ABC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I have been told is that Anna Gristina was providing prostitution services and would book Irma and other girls, very high-end men who could afford to pay $2,000 an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two thousand dollars?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two thousand dollars an hour, $5,000 for the evening. Well-to-do and in some cases quite well-known individuals.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And who are these VIP`s? We`re going to talk about it in a second.

But first out to the phone calls. Jack, Wisconsin, your question or thought, Jack?

CALLER: Yes, I believe the system is -- they are victims that the system is designed. Attorneys and police officers, law enforcement, they go out and create havoc in people`s lives to create business. And I have paperwork to prove that a case in Wisconsin to where I have attorneys falsifying documents to meet police officers` reports, changing court testimony in them reports.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Jack, you`re making an interesting point. Steve Pasternak, you`re the CEO of Sugardaddie with D-D-I-E dot com. Do you feel Anna Gristina is being persecuted?

PASTERNAK: I`m sorry. Could you rephrase that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you feel Anna Gristina is being persecuted as opposed to just being prosecuted?

PASTERNAK: From what I understand, it seems that there is a legitimate reason that they`re going after her. There seems to be, from what I`ve heard in the press, amounts of evidence that shows that this is a prostitution ring. And not an online dating service. As she claims she was trying to create.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she says she`s being persecuted. She told "The New York Post" during an intense investigation, investigators gave her a list of ten names, powerful men in business and industry, and told her, "Hey, give us information on these men." Gristina says she kept her mouth zipped. That`s when they locked her up. She told a reporter, quote, "I`d bite my tongue off before I tell them anything."

So what are the ten names investigators are so fascinated by? Private investigator Vinny Parko, who worked with this woman, he said, he weighs in. Listen to this.


PARKO: If they have all this video surveillance and they know who the johns are, they know who the customers are. They don`t.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And now, we hear that this gentleman who is, I understand, David Walker, who`s an investment manager at Morgan Stanley and has apparently been put on leave while the investigation continues, allegedly purportedly met with Anna Gristina. We`ve reached out to him. He or his attorney invited on any time.

But Eric Snyder, former New York prosecutor, could this be something a lot bigger than a prostitution ring? Could there be men in high finance that the D.A.`s office is going -- going for, going after for whatever reason? Maybe it`s another Bernie Madoff scandal.

SNYDER: Well, my hunch is that they probably do have a great many telephone numbers from telephone records of people they believe are johns or clients, if you will.

Rarely do you see johns be prosecuted. So there will be some effort to put pressure on those johns to find out if they`re willing to testify against Gristina.

What I think is really going on, quite frankly, in the investigation is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`ll get that right on...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the alleged soccer mom madam in a moment. First, here`s your "Viral Video of the Day."



PARKO: What I was trying to help her do is set up a security system for a Web site that she was doing for a dating service.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, OK. Prosecutors say that was her cover. Now, you`re saying that that was legit?

PARKO: No, she was forming one. She had investors come in at these networking meetings. These are legitimate business people.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say that`s nonsense, that she was running a prostitution ring.

Now, Anna Gristina`s alleged accomplice, by the name of Jaynie Mae Baker, expected to turn herself in shortly, today or tomorrow. She`s facing one charge of promoting prostitution. Now, authorities say she`s been on the lam. Anna Gristina, says, "Oh, no, she`s just been on a family vacation." Will prosecutors try to pit these women against one another?

Jodi "Babydol" Gibson, former madam, author of "Secrets of a Hollywood Super Madam," what do you think? Are they going to take this woman and pit her against the alleged madam?

GIBSON: Well, what I think, first off, Jane, thank you for asking, is that they`re getting the girls and the clients from the Web sites. And I suppose when the gentlemen had to meet the girls, they came to her apartment to meet them. But the core and the source of this is the Web site.

Then what`s going to happen is now that they have her booked, they`re going to contact as many girls as they can in that book and try to get them to testify. And they`re going to visit them at their workplace. They`re going to visit them at their home, and if they don`t cooperate sometimes they threaten them with an additional tax evasion case. But it`s the girls that they`re going to go after now, and they`re going to gather evidence for their case and build their case with the girls.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It makes me upset, as a woman that they do not prosecute the johns but they always after the girls. And it seems like the women end up doing the time while the guys end up having a fine time.

And I just don`t think it`s fair. Now frankly, I don`t -- I think it`s kind of a waste of taxpayer dollars. If it involves underage girls, if it involves sex trafficking of minors, I say lock them up and throw away the key forever. But if it`s two adults getting together, I really don`t care. I think we have bigger problems in our culture.

Can you address that briefly, Eric Snyder, former New York prosecutor?

SNYDER: Well, I agree with what you just said. I think there is some value to looking to what police officers are involved in criminal conduct. That`s what this unit does. There`s a new chief heading up this unit. It`s been revitalized. If there are police involved, they should investigate it. And I suspect that`s what this investigation is all about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go to the phones. Meredith, Nebraska, your question or thought? Meredith?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your question or thought, my dear?

CALLER: I absolutely think, 100 percent, the husband knew, if not pimping her out himself and was absolutely benefiting from the income that she was bringing home.

Now if there`s no way she was bringing that type of income in and him not at least throw a red flag up as to what she`s doing or something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I agree. She says, oh, she doesn`t have two nickels to rub together. Let take a look quickly at her house two miles outside New York City, and it`s a house. I mean, unless you`re completely upside down -- this is the Manhattan apartment. There`s the house. There`s the house, a couple of hours outside New York City. Unless you`re totally upside down and you`ve mortgaged it to the hilt, you can`t say you do not have a penny if you own a home.

Interestingly enough, she might have a public defender. Also this high-powered attorney who says he`s going to put up his Tribeca loft to bail her out. I find it all fascinating.

And we could tell you one thing for sure. More will be revealed on this case. We are just getting started. We`re going to stay all over it. And we`re going to figure it out. Up next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight our two-tiered system of justice strikes again, in my humble opinion. Is another rich celebrity getting another -- a little tiny slap on the wrist?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Lohan was driving westbound on Sunset Boulevard when she lost control of her vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She drove her car into a curb on Sunset Boulevard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there was ever a picture that told a story, you`re looking at it. Lindsay Lohan passed out in a car after a wild weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arrested on suspicion of DUI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigation are it`s illegal narcotics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tentatively identified as cocaine.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: One woman is serving up to 40 years behind bars for possession of coke. Brooke Mueller? Oh, she has to go to drug class.

Ever wonder how the rich and famous state need to stay out of jail while working people get locked away for years for the same crime. We see this disparity every day in the headlines.

Remember what Charlie Sheen`s ex-wife Brooke Mueller was caught with cocaine allegedly in an Aspen nightclub. She was charged with assaulting a woman and felony possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. And guess what? TMZ is reporting she`s going to get a plea deal with no jail time.

How about, Lindsay Lohan, the queen of second chances. TMZ reports she was carrying at least half a gram of cocaine when she was hauled off to jail in 2007 after a very crazy and dangerous car chase. Listen to this 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. What`s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t -- we were -- we were just about to park our car, we were coming home and out of nowhere a huge white GMC came up and (inaudible). Ok, that`s ok. We`re at 4th and Wilshire, we`re coming down right now. We`re being followed by a GMC, the gentleman jumped out of the car --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God sir, they`re following us. We need help.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. She needed help from Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay was driving that GMC. Lindsay pleaded no contest to DUI and entered a guilty plea to being under the influence of a controlled substance. And she is still on probation for those charges.

Guess what? She`s living in some high-dollar condo after doing community service and maybe spending a few days at most behind bars.

Well, the Garrison twins know all about the two-tiered criminal justice system in America. 1998, weeks after they graduate from college, the brothers -- both aspiring lawyers -- were convicted of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Lawrence was sentenced to 15 careers in prison. Lamont was sentenced to 19 years in prison. They both maintain their innocence.

Finally, after more than a decade spent in prison, they`re both finally free men again. They served most of their sentences. Here is their devastated mother.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much does the color of your skin have to do with the sentence?

KAREN GARRISON, SONS CONVICTED ON DRUG CHARGES: What then is it? If my sons were little white boys and I was a little yuppie mommy, my sons would be out. Nothing could make me believe that they would have been in prison.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to talk to that woman in just a moment. Is she right? How is it that the privileged get off and the works class pay so dearly?

I want to hear what you think. Call me 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Julie Stewart, founder FAMS, Families against Mandatory Minimums; check it out people on the web -- Now, you started this organization because you saw a double standard. Tell us what you see in the criminal justice system in America today.

JULIE STEWART, FOUNDER, FAMILIES AGAINST MANDATORY MINIMUMS: Well, I started this organization because my brother went to prison for five years for growing marijuana. I certainly, in the last 20 years since I`ve been doing this have seen that black and brown people get sentenced more often for longer sentences than whites, no doubt about it.

But I also see that it`s a socioeconomic issue; that people who can`t afford a good lawyer, don`t understand the system, are certainly going to get slammed more than those who do.

But I also think Lindsay Lohan has a major drug problem, she needs treatment. She needs treatment again and again. As many treatment experts will tell you you`re going to relapse and it`s going to happen again and again. But what doesn`t happen is that people who aren`t as famous as her, who relapse don`t get the second chances that she gets repeatedly. I wish they did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say a couple of things. I agree with you entirely. I`m not for people who commit crimes not serving some time. I just want to see no double standards. I don`t want to see people who happen to be rich and/or famous getting one easy way out while other people convicted of the same crime end up behind barbed wire. I don`t think that`s what America should be about.

Case in point: the story of the Garrison brothers. Fast facts about their case: Lamont and Lawrence Garrison were college grads. No criminal record whatsoever. They were arrested, fingered by a convicted drug dealer. No drugs were found on them. The brothers refused to plea deal because they maintained their innocence.

And guess what? They were convicted. Lawrence got 15-and-a-half years. Lamont got 19-and-a-half years in prison. After these very long stretches behind bars, they are finally both free.

Lawrence and his mother Karen are joining us now. And I want to start with you, Karen because I know that this has been difficult to see your precious sons who had jobs, who had graduated, who were success stories, swept up in this and sent away for over a decade each. When you see stories of celebrities and rich people caught with drugs who do no time, what runs through you, Karen?

K. GARRISON: Most of the time when I see them they`re white and not black. And what runs through my mind is, how can this keep going on? No one stopped it. All these stars get caught with various amounts of drugs. Various types of drugs that could get them ten years to life like they told my sons and they walk, they make movies, they go on with their lives. And my sons were stuck in prison for Lamont did a whole 13-and-a-half years before he was able to come home. If there wasn`t for the little bitty law change, he would have just been coming home -- Lawrence would have just been coming home this year and Lamont still would have had four years to go, you know. It`s just an outrage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re talking about the federal readjustment to try to eliminate the disparity between crack sentences and cocaine sentences.

Our guest tonight spent years in prison for nonviolent crimes. But check out this latest verdict in the lacrosse case. Now this prep school lacrosse-playing college student from a prominent family was convicted of only second degree murder for the vicious crime against this woman you`re seeing here. He beat his girlfriend leaving her to die in a pool of blood stealing her laptop.

The jury recommended 26 years behind bars; he is yet to be sentenced. But think about that: 26 years with a vicious beating of a young woman who died after being left in a pool of blood.

And Lawrence Garrison, you as a first-time offender did ten years and your brother longer for crack distribution that you always denied being involved in. When you hear stories like that, what runs through you, Lawrence?

LAWRENCE GARRISON, CONVICTED ON DRUG CHARGES: I`m appalled. When I hear things like that, it makes me really upset. It`s just hard to fathom that you`re going to spend 11 years and 8 months of your life in prison not being convicted of a crime that you were guilty of

You see people every day on the news. They get caught red handed with drugs, like Lindsay Lohan and do no time. Someone implicated my brother and I and we did a lot of time. For someone to do 26 years for a jury to say that a person deserves 26 years for killing someone when a jury, the same jury can find someone guilty for a gram or anywhere from five grams because they have a record, they`ll get 30 years to life in prison and never get home under the federal sentencing guidelines.

I`m appalled and there`s definitely a double-tiered system, you know. So it`s really hard to look at the news when you see things like this and you know the things you`ve been through affect you so much. And I can`t sit here and say they don`t. I`m still feeling the effects of the sentence I served.

And so many others are still in prison wrongfully convicted and wrongfully sentenced I should say for a crime that they didn`t kill anyone, they didn`t steal, didn`t hurt anyone directly. But they still get 30 years, life in prison. They`ll never get home. Unfortunately, they look just like me, they`re African-Americans.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natasha Darrington, a mother of four, first time offender, spent 11 years of her life in prison when she was arrested in her husband`s cocaine base conspiracy case says. Listen to this from YouTube.


NATASHA DARRINGTON, SPENT 11 YEARS IN PRISON: I was a first time offender who had never spent a day in prison. My four children, who were 10, 12, 14 and 17 when I went to prison 14 years ago, they`re all adults now. I missed the birth of my first grandchild. I missed the funerals of both of my parents. I missed the chance to comfort my children when their grandparents died.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natasha, you`re joining us now. Thank you for being here. Tell us about the impact on being in prison for so long, what it had on your children.

DARRINGTON: It was devastating. There was just a lot of things that they didn`t get opportunities to do because I wasn`t there and it was just devastating. We just cried as I said. We had very wet, soggy pillows.

It was difficult when my first grandchild was born. I wasn`t there. When my father passed away, he had had the children and when he passed away then they got sectioned off to different family members on my husband`s side.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know how many people are incarcerated in the U.S. Prison system right now? 2.1 million people right now, as we speak. It is as large as the entire city of Houston, Texas -- behind bars.

Natasha, do you think we need wholesale change here to try to make this a little more fair? By the way, this is costing taxpayers something like, I don`t know, what is it $46 billion to $60 billion a year?

GARRINGTON: Yes. We definitely need change. The law that went into effect, that took me to Washington, D.C. to testify before the United States Sentencing Commission. Instead of now being 100 to 1, it`s 18 to 1 so we still have work to do. It`s better than, but we still have work to do because there`s just -- people are just being locked up, you know, and herded like cattle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. When people commit a violent crime, I say lock them up. But nonviolent crimes like the individuals we`ve had on this segment tonight, really? Now there`s no room for the violent criminals because we spend so much of the space locking up nonviolent offenders, first-time offenders? There`s something wrong with our system.

Up next, Charlie Sheen. You won`t believe it.



CHARLIE SHEEN ACTOR: My motto was "Enjoy every moment".

I guess it would imply that there`s going to be a crash. I don`t know when that`s coming. But maybe you can cover it when it does.

All I want to say is guys relax -- everybody chill.

I don`t believe myself to be an addict. I really don`t. I think that I`m just going to just ignore or smash or finally dismiss a model that I think is rooted in vintage balderdash.

This is a billion dollar worldwide concert. (inaudible)


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Has Hollywood`s favorite warlock, Charlie Sheen, falling off the wagon? A gaggle of paparazzi caught up with Charlie outside a Guns n Roses concert and observers suggested well, he might be looking a little less than sober. I don`t know. I wasn`t there. You can take a peek for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you do a song with Guns n Roses?

SHEEN: I think "Rocket Queen". It`s a masterpiece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re the man.

SHEEN: I`m one of them. You`re the other one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I party like Charlie Sheen.

SHEEN: Nobody parties like Charlie Sheen.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Charlie has been pretty quiet since his complete breakdown last year when he was booted from his hit show "Two and a Half Men" and went on an insane media kamikaze mission. Here`s one of his many off the wall interviews from ABC.


SHEEN: Wow. And then what? What`s the cure? Medicine. Make me like them? Not going to happen. I`m by winning. I win here and there. Now what?

Last time I took drugs, I probably took more than anybody could survive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are we talking about, how much?

SHEEN: I don`t know, man. I was banging seven gram rocks and finishing them because that`s how I roll. I have one speed, I have one gear -- go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But where is he going? Are we going to see the return of crazy, zany Charlie? What do you think? Call me 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my buddy, TMZ managing editor, Mike Walters; Mike, what the heck`s going on with Charlie Sheen?

MIKE WALTERS, TMZ MANAGING EDITOR: Well, Jane, the minute I first saw the video, a lot of people said the same thing I did, "he`s off the wagon". But as I looked into it a little further, just like you heard him say, he used to bang seven gram rocks. Charlie Sheen sober is not doing cocaine. He doesn`t really hide from the fact that he still drinks.

Since the moment when he had the little meltdown and the whole thing that he did, he said the whole time "I`m not sober, I`m not doing that, but I am not sober." He even twittered like a month ago, pictures of him drinking scotch with his buddies after he sold the "Anger Management" television show -- his new show. So I don`t know how to feel. I know you`re going to disagree with me on this, Jane, but I feel like if he drinks on the weekend and he can get his work done during the week with the show, I`m not sure he`s totally off the wagon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike --

WALTERS: I know you`ll disagree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- you can`t say you`re sober if you`re drinking scotch. It`s just not the definition of sobriety.

WALTERS: I know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You could say --

WALTERS: I don`t think he`s fully off the wagon.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- but part of the problem is that sobriety is black and white. It`s all or nothing. Either you`re sober, you have mood- altering substances which include alcohol, or you`re not. So even with his public breakdown, Charlie told ABC he doesn`t think he`s an addict and he also insisted -- remember this one -- that he cured himself by blinking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried you`re going to relapse?



SHEEN: Because I`m not going to -- period, the end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But how do you --

SHEEN: I blinked -- I blinked and I cured my brain. That`s how. Everybody has the power.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He blinked and he cured his brain. Ok. Got to go out to the calls -- Paul, North Carolina, your question or thought, Paul?

PAUL, NORTH CAROLINA: Yes. Charlie Sheen is acting like he does have a drug problem with all the drugs that they had. The problem I see with here in North Carolina, if you get caught with those or even in possession of, it is a felony here in North Carolina. But why can these actors not get drug help or be drug tested during their times on TV?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this again. I have absolutely -- I`m not there. I`m not watching them. I don`t know what he`s doing. And I`m not suggesting that he`s using anything. You heard TMZ saying, well, he appears to have a drink. I could just tell you that that is not sobriety.

We reached out to Charlie Sheen`s rep and he or Charlie Sheen himself, the warlock himself invited on any time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bobbi Kristina in a moment. But first, you deserve a laugh break.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bobbi Kristina talked with Oprah yesterday in her first interview since her mom died.

BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN, DAUGHTER OF WHITNEY HOUSTON: The lights, you know, turn on and off, and I`m like, "Mom, what are you the doing?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just last year, she defended herself against acquisitions from "The National Enquirer" that she was using cocaine, tweeting, "It`s really not what it looks like." A source close to the family says Bobbi Kristina may now spend time with her grandmother.

WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: Being a mother, period, you kind of stop living for yourself and you start living for your children.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oprah breaks down in tears, Bobbi Kristina breaks her silence for the first since her famous mother`s death a month ago. It all combined for a ratings bonanza of 3.5 million viewers for the OWN Network.

Whitney`s daughter revealed her struggles to keep going and describes her final hours with her mom.


BROWN: Our very last day, it was so, so early in the morning, so early. But I say -- I don`t know why, I went to go get her, and I said, "You know, mom, will you just come down and lay with me, just come lay with me." And she stayed with me all night and all day. All night all day and she was rubbing my head, just holding me, you know, everything. And I slept in her arms all night, all day, all night long.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joining me tonight, the one and only Sheryl Lee Ralph, Whitney`s friend and author of the amazing new book, "Redefining Diva". Sheryl -- so glad to have you here; what do you think about this interview? Some people said, "Hey, Oprah went too soft on her", had to ask her some tougher questions. Others say it was very appropriate. This is a child in mourning.

SHERYL LEE RALPH, FRIEND OF WHITNEY HOUSTON, AUTHOR, "REDEFINING DIVA": Absolutely. You know, I have a daughter just about the same age. And when my daughter realized exactly what was going on with Bobbi Kristina, she said, "Mommy, if I was in her position, I`d never be able to speak again."

So for some of us, it might be too soon, but maybe it was right on time for Bobbi Kristina to come out and tell her story because she said something very interesting. She said, "I couldn`t take it, those first two days, by myself. I kept hearing my mother." That shows us that this young child is still grieving. 18 to lose your mother, 19 to lose your mother is still a very impressionable age. So she is grieving right now.

And to hear that she might be going to spend time with her grandmother might be one of the best things to happen to her.


RALPH: But as far as Oprah being too hard or too soft, I think Oprah played it just about right. Remember, she was at the funeral. And it`s very hard to pay two masters.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she has personal connections to the Whitney Houston family. And this is a teenager.

RALPH: Yes. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you can`t be hard on a teenager who just lost their mom.

RALPH: Lost their mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bobbi Kristina also said Whitney hasn`t left her.

RALPH: Of course.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you referred to this, that she`s still a presence in the house. Listen to this from OWN.


BROWN: Throughout the house, you know, lights, you know, turn on and off, and I`m like, "Mom, what are you doing?" You know?

WINFREY: Really?

BROWN: Yes. We still, like, I can still sit there and I can still there and I can still laugh with her, you know? I can still sit there and I can still talk to her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is this a missed opportunity for Bobbi Kristina to clear up some of the rumors of erratic behavior allegedly after her mother died?

RALPH: You know something, I think right about now, in terms of her own erratic behavior or her mother`s behavior?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, her own. Because there was some talk that she disappeared after the funeral, questions --

RALPH: Right. I think right about now, it might be none of our business. It might be something best handled by the family themselves. And I really hope that Bobbi Kristina knows that all of us are wrapping our arms around her and praying that she learns from the footsteps of her mother and she`s the cycle breaker that does something better for herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hallelujah. I agree with that. More on the other side.



WHITNEY HOUSTON`S SISTER-IN-LAW: The handwriting was kind of on the wall. I would be kidding myself to say otherwise.

BROWN: Everything that people are saying about her, you know, all that, all that negativity is just, is garbage.


BROWN: That`s not my mother.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee Ralph, so tough for a grieving daughter to have to defend her mother.

RALPH: Absolutely. And the things that she says about her mother, that the negativity and all of that is garbage, I would expect this child to say absolutely nothing else about their parent. But remember all the best and the good, because that`s what she`ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

But you know, if we look back on some other stars, like take Judy Garland, for instance. Judy Garland --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Also troubled.


RALPH: Yes, and the system, the Hollywood system chewed her up and fame really gave her a good beat up there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So many of the greatest artists had their troubles and that gave them their poignancy. Get "Redefining Diva".