Brothel Owner Pleads Guilty to Federal Fraud Charges
Las Vegas, Nev. – Nye County brothel owner Joe Richards pleaded guilty today to fraud charges for paying bribes to a former Nye County Commissioner, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Richards, 75, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones to one count of Wire Fraud/Honest Services Fraud. Richards admitted that he devised a scheme to defraud the citizens of Nye County of the honest services of their elected public officials for the purpose of obtaining favors that benefitted him personally. In June and August 2005, Richards paid former Nye County Commissioner, Candice Trummell, a total of $5,000 in order to corruptly influence her to revise a Nye County ordinance that restricted him from building a brothel on property he owned which was located at the corner of Homestead Road and Silver Street in Pahrump, Nevada. Richards did not know that Trummell was also serving as a good citizen cooperating witness for the United States Government. The ordinance, referred to as the 300 yard rule, prevented the building of a legal brothel within 300 yards of the frontage to a road or highway. Richards used the artifice of the "Richards Family Trust" to conceal the payments to Trummell, and also provided Trummell a "Memorandum of Scholarship," which falsely stated that he had paid her the money for the purpose of a law school scholarship, when in fact, the money was paid in order to corruptly influence her.
Richards owns three of seven brothels authorized for operation in Nye County, Mabel's Ranch, Cherry Patch Ranch, Cherry Patch II Ranch, as well as a massage parlor known as the Madame Butterfly Bath and Massage Salon, and a strip club known as The Kingdom.
Richards is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Jones on June 15, 2009, at 1:30 p.m.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and United States Postal Inspection Service, and prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney Steven W. Myhre and Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly Frayn and Michael Chu.