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'Mansion Madam' pleads guilty to prostitution

  Criminal Law  -   POSTED: 2007/10/12 12:38

Former Penthouse model Lisa Ann Taylor pleaded guilty Wednesday to prostitution and drug charges, culminating a high profile criminal case involving sordid allegations in an exclusive neighborhood. Judge William Ray of Gwinnett Superior Court sentenced the so-called "Mansion Madam" to seven years of probation. The judge also ordered her to pay $150,000 within one year. If she doesn't, authorities plan to seize her house — valued at more than $1 million — in Sugarloaf Country Club.

District Attorney Danny Porter of Gwinnett County said the $150,000 figure represented Taylor's earnings as a prostitute in 2006, when she received roughly $3,000 or more each week.

"In the end it was a hooker case," Porter said. "She was treated no differently than someone that was charged with the possession of cocaine and prostitution and didn't have a prior record. ... And the judge gave her a chance to straighten out her life. Whether she does, we'll see."

The case made national headlines because Taylor and another woman, Nicole Probert, were accused of running a brothel in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in metro Atlanta. Sugarloaf Country Club is home to some high-profile entertainers and athletes. Taylor's own celebrity status as a former Penthouse Pet of the Month and a stripper who went by the name of Melissa Wolf added to the media frenzy.

Probert has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial, as are several men authorities say were their customers.

Porter said Taylor's plea will likely bring a quick resolution of the other cases.

When asked whether Probert would accept a similar plea deal, her attorney Steve Sadow said, "The simple answer is no. My expectation is that the case can be resolved without a trial and without a guilty plea."

Max Richardson, Taylor's attorney, said Taylor plans to "get on with her new life" and hopes "she can sell real estate if she doesn't get blackballed by everybody.

News of Taylor's arrest sent shockwaves through the gated community and made national news.

Days after police arrested Taylor on Jan. 3, 2007, neighbors told reporters about loud parties and lewd behavior at Taylor's house. Yet they also said other neighbors sometimes threw loud parties.

"We've got athletes and rock singers, and on occasion they throw big parties; they tend to be loud," one neighbor, Richard Hassberger, told reporters then.

Soon, however, prosecutors painted a lurid portrait that detailed something very much out of the ordinary happening behind closed doors in Taylor's house.

Taylor was Penthouse Pet of the Month in 1985 and starred in several X-rated films. Probert performed as an adult entertainer under the name "Naughty Nikki." Together, authorities said, they charged clients $5,000 to $10,000 for sex in the country club home. Prosecutors also charged them with providing cocaine to some clients.

A Gwinnett County grand jury later indicted Taylor and Probert on drug, prostitution and racketeering charges. The charges said the women offered to perform sex acts as "a duo" on 12 occasions beginning in January 2006 but that the last four occasions were not completed because of the womens' arrest.

The case against Taylor took an unexpected turn about three weeks ago, on Sept. 21, when police in Duluth pulled over a car in which she was riding. Authorities said the car was weaving. They also said they found cocaine and prescription drugs; police charged her with three felony and one misdemeanor drug charges. Richardson, her attorney, said that the prescription drugs were prescribed for depression and related problems.

Up to that point, Taylor had been out of jail on bond, awaiting the resolution of the prostitution charges against her, but her arrest on Sept. 21 sent her to the Gwinnett County Jail with no bond allowed.

The prospect of remaining in jail until her trial on the prostitution and drug charges played a key role in Taylor's decision to plead guilty on Wednesday afternoon, her lawyer said. Now, he said, she's eager for a fresh start.

"We're just hoping somebody gives her a chance," he said.

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