News and Press Releases

Pahrump Brothel Owner Arrested And Charged With Fraud For Unlawful Payments To Nye County Commissioner

March 6, 2006

Las Vegas, Nev. – The owner of three brothels, a massage parlor and strip club in Nye County, Nevada, was arrested in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 4, 2006, and charged with Wire Fraud for allegedly depriving and defrauding the Nye County Commission and citizens of Nye County, Nevada, of money and property and their right to the honest services of their public officials, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

JOSEPH MAYNARD RICHARDS, age 72, of Crystal, Nevada, owner of 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, is charged in a Criminal Complaint with one count of Wire Fraud - Deprivation of Honest Services. The Complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on March 2, 2006, and unsealed today. If convicted of the charge, RICHARDS faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Complaint alleges that RICHARDS paid a Nye County Commissioner, identified in the Complaint as Cooperating Witness (CW), a total of $5,000 under the guise of a scholarship to attend UNLV law school. In return for the payments, RICHARDS allegedly obtained, and attempted to obtain, the commissioner's assistance in changing a Nye County Ordinance that imposed a land use restriction preventing him from building a brothel on property he owns near Pahrump, Nevada, at the corner of Homestead Road and Silver Street. The restriction - referred to as the 300 yard rule - prevents the building of a legal brothel within 300 yards of the frontage to a road or highway.

The Complaint alleges that numerous meetings between the Commissioner and RICHARDS from June 2005 to September 2005 were audio and video recorded by FBI Agents. On June 16, 2005, RICHARDS allegedly offered to pay the Commissioner's tuition to law school in exchange for the Commissioner's actions on the Commission that would affect RICHARD's business. On June 28, 2005, RICHARDS allegedly paid the Commissioner $1,000 in U.S. Currency, and on August 15, 2005, RICHARDS allegedly provided the Commissioner a check payable to the Commissioner in the amount of $4,000.

This case is a result of an investigation by the FBI and United States Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney Steven W. Myhre and Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Frayn. JOSEPH RICHARDS was released on a personal recognizance bond with pretrial services supervision, home detention and electronic monitoring. A preliminary hearing was set for March 22, 2006, at 4:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert J. Johnston.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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