DUNWOODY, Ga. - Dunwoody Police say a months-long investigation into an escort service has netted nearly 60 arrests.
Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik first broke news of the arrests of several key alleged players in the ring last week.
“There’s no dispute this is a criminal enterprise for commercial sex and it was operating here in Dunwoody,” said Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan.
Grogan said an anonymous tip led them to investigate “Gold Club Escorts” and “Lipstick and Shoes,” and led to the arrest of its accused owners, Sam and Darliene Crenshaw and an associate, George Moore.
“It damages families,” he said of the prostitution. “I’m sure the families in this particular case have been damaged, their children, their wives.”
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said the arrests should send a strong message.
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“These crimes will not be tolerated in DeKalb County,” she said. “Both supply and demand must be eradicated if we are to stop this problem.”
Petchenik first reported police busted the ring just before the New Year at two apartment complexes across from Perimeter Mall, including one just feet from the Dunwoody Police headquarters.
“We’re concerned no matter where it happens,” said Grogan.
An attorney for the Crenshaws had no comment on the charges. George Moore’s attorney told Petchenik last week his client is innocent.
Attorney Jay Abt represents several of the accused prostitutes and some of the accused customers.
“These are people having consensual sex. They are adults. They’re consenting. I don’t think there’s anything illegal going on,” Abt said.
Abt said he has major concerns about police using undercover cameras to capture hours of illicit activity going on in the apartments.
“If the Dunwoody police did that without the knowledge and consent of the homeowners and the people in that private residence, then the Dunwoody police themselves could have committed a felony,” Abt said.
Chief Grogan told Petchenik he wouldn’t discuss tactics used to gather evidence.
“I can assure you that anything we did as part of our investigation was legal and was approved,” Grogan said.
Among the accused customers arrested is Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Chris Quinn of Alpharetta. Gwinnett District Attorney, Danny Porter, told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas he’s put Quinn on unpaid leave as a result of the allegations.
Quinn’s defense attorney, Noah Pines, e-mailed Petchenik a statement about the charges the veteran prosecutor is facing.
“I’ve never seen a RICO case target an alleged ‘customer/JOHN’ in any prostitution case, nor any other case for that matter. Customers by definition are not ‘employed by or associated with any enterprise’ nor do they by definition ‘conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in such enterprise.’ If you look at the warrants obtained, the ‘facts’ alleged in the warrants are that the customers/JOHNS paid the enterprise. How can you be a part of the enterprise if you are paying them? This appears to be another instance of prosecutorial overreaching. I look forward to receiving the evidence, especially the video evidence as I have serious questions about how the video evidence was obtained.”
Boston said her office would analyze the entire case file and decide what charges would be appropriate, but she said that the charge of “pandering” is included as part of the state’s racketeering statute.
Meantime, Petchenik spoke to a woman who said a younger relative worked for Gold Club Escorts.
“They do have customers that do come in from all over the country and many of them are politicians, professional athletes, musicians, rappers, a lot of people in the hip-hop community,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
She said her relative was recruited by the service in a hotel lobby with the promise of big money.
“She was making about $2,000 to $3,000 a week,” she said.
The woman said she believes Crenshaw chose the Dunwoody area for a reason.
“Bottom line I think he felt no one would ever suspect this would be going on in that part of town,” she said. “I hope they shut it down and hope they find out how widespread it is.”
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