Madams and murder top crime beat

Editor's note: The Post's reporters were asked to review stories that happened on their beat this year and pick the 10 biggest. Today, Josh Green ranks his choices for the top-10 crime-related stories of 2007.

Born and bred in the Hoosier State, I moved to Georgia in July this year after covering crime in metro Indianapolis. I was told I'd be busy as a cops and courts writer in the urbanizing sprawl that is Gwinnett. Y'all weren't kidding. Here's my pick for the top 10 police stories of this unforgettable - and historically bloody - year.

10. Big trouble, little Suwanee

The city of Suwanee - long considered a sanctuary from urban crime - began 2007 with dose of bad news. Suwanee police reported the city's first murder since 1965 on Jan. 29.

Police found the body of Debra Ann Glover, 43, of Atlanta, behind a Motel 6 on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Investigators said Illinois trucker Bruce Mendenhall, 56, confessed to the killing - along with murders in five other states - when he was arrested by Nashville police for allegedly killing a woman there.

Mendenhall is being held without bond in Nashville. He pleaded not guilty to the killings in October.

9. Pot-pourri

Early in 2007, the term "grow house" sprouted in news reports across metro Atlanta, and especially in Gwinnett.

Gwinnett police made another serious bust March 8 - about $450,000 worth of marijuana - at a Lawrenceville home. The crackdown marked the ninth grow house uprooted by local police in a period of about two weeks.

Following a series of indictments, the problem has apparently subsided. Perhaps it was nipped in the bud.

8. Blood sport

Was there a more ubiquitous word in the 2007 criminal lexicon than "dogfighting"? From "Saturday Night Live" spoofs to Whoopie Goldberg tirades, talk of the illegal sport surfaced everywhere. Gwinnett was not immune.

Four men were arrested Sept. 7 near Snellville after an informant told the Sheriff's Department of a possible dogfighting operation at their home.

Authorities found seven dogs and three puppies restrained in the backyard and remains of other dogs. Investigators said the dogs appeared to be involved in fighting, but charges were dismissed this month against three of the four men.

The fourth man was indicted on charges of dogfighting.

7. Suspected Nazi flees

An 85-year-old Lawrenceville man accused of training attack dogs in Nazi concentration camps was threatened with deportation in early October.

Federal authorities said Paul Henss, a German citizen, assisted in Nazi persecution of Jews, a crime punishable by deportation under U.S. immigration law. Henss failed to appear at a Nov. 13 deportation hearing in Atlanta. His family reported he had already fled back to Germany.

Henss worked in the packing industry after coming to America, and he called the case against him unfair.

6. Taser talk

Tasers were a hot topic throughout 2007. The national debate over the safety of the high-voltage stun guns came to a boil locally.

Norcross resident Carlos Rodriguez, 24, died July 25 after he fought with Sheriff's deputies and was Tased. A forensic investigator ruled in October the man died as a result of "excited delirium" brought on by the use of alcohol and cocaine.

Earlier this month, Leroy Patterson Jr., 41, died after he was Tased by Walton County Sheriff's deputies who suspected he had raped a woman. Toxicology tests are pending, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the case.

5. Criminal cuteness?

Catchy monikers reigned in 2007. Exhibit One: Two former Gwinnett teens suspected of robbing a Cobb County bank in March gained national notoriety as the "Barbie Bandits."

Prosecutors said Heather Johnston and Ashley Miller - both 2006 grads of Gwinnett schools - were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing as they stole nearly $11,000 from a Bank of America in Acworth on Feb. 27.

The 19-year-old women were arrested two days later.

4. Shocking allegation

William Carter Gorman - a respected Lawrenceville pharmacist and city official - was arrested in July for receiving child pornography.

Federal authorities said Gorman mail-ordered explicit videos featuring children at his Lawrenceville home. Gorman later resigned as treasurer of the Lawrenceville Downtown Development Authority.

Gorman pleaded not guilty to the federal charge Aug. 14 in Atlanta. His jury trial begins Jan. 22.

3. College student vanishes

A mother's worst nightmare materialized when Justin Gaines mysteriously disappeared at a Duluth nightclub last month.

The 18-year-old college student was last seen Nov. 1 at Wild Bill's. Gaines' family has raised a $50,000 reward for information leading to his return.

Continued searches have yielded few clues to Gaines' whereabouts.

2. Murder milestone

It was a bloody year in Gwinnett. The bloodiest in history.

The county eclipsed its all-time homicide record on Oct. 19 when a 54-year-old man was shot at a Barnacles restaurant in Norcross. Police said the shooter acted in self-defense.

The incident marked the county's 41st homicide of the year. The old record was 40, set in 2006.

Medical Examiner Ted Bailey said Thursday the record has since risen to 50 homicides.

1. 'Madams' mania

Even Canada took interest in Gwinnett's biggest crime story of 2007.

The saga of the internationally known "Mansion Madams" duo began Jan. 3, when police arrested former Penthouse Pet Lisa Ann Taylor and Nicole Probert for allegedly running a brothel in one of Gwinnett's most elite neighborhoods - the Sugarloaf Country Club.

Taylor pleaded guilty in October to prostitution, keeping a place of prostitution and cocaine possession. She was slapped with seven years probation.

Prosecutors dropped all charges against Probert on Nov. 13 - a token of appreciation for cooperating with investigators.