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Dennis Hof to purchase Joe Richards’ brothels in Crystal, Nevada

TONOPAH, Nevada — from – Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch and a television personality with the HBO series “Cathouse,” announced last week he is close to finalizing the purchase of Joe Richards’ brothels in Crystal.

Hof made his comments as county commissioners postponed taking action on scheduling a show cause hearing on whether Richards’ brothel and liquor licenses should be revoked following his sentencing in U.S. District Court last July on bribery charges.

“I expressed an interest in the brothels Joe Richards has. I negotiated a contract for sale for both properties in the Crystal area, not the one on (Highway) 95. They are in escrow, there is a title issue on one of the properties which Mr. Richards says is going to be resolved on the 26th of this month before a judge. Once that’s done, we’ll be finishing due diligence which will take a few days. In the meantime I’m working on the license application which is being prepared,” Hof said.

Richards owns the Cherry Patch Ranch in Crystal, also known as Mabel’s Whorehouse and Madame Venus. He owns the Cherry Patch 2 in Lathrop Wells on Highway 95, which Hof said is not part of the purchase.

Commissioner Joni Eastley said she was under the impression by former Nye County Chief Civil Deputy District Attorney Ron Kent the county should wait until Richards’ appeal is heard on his sentence before scheduling a show cause hearing.

Richards was sentenced to spend one year in a halfway house, which expires this July. That was part of a plea bargain in which Richards agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud/honest services fraud, pay a $250,000 fine and serve three years probation.

“I’m under the impression that we had been advised by previous counsel that until the issue of the appeal was decided, that we should not move forward with this. So I was a little surprised to see it on the agenda. I wondered what had changed,” Eastley said.

Nye County Deputy District Attorney Marla Zlotek said she couldn’t speak for Kent, but said Richards’ appeal was filed last August. An answering brief was due to be filed yesterday; a 9th Circuit Court judge has scheduled a hearing in June on the appeal,which states the sentencing was not in compliance with the plea bargain negotiations, Zlotek said.

“We don’t have the gentleman here so we could ask him. But I could have sworn his advice was not to move forward with this until the appeal was decided, regardless of the fact that it was for sentencing,” Eastley said of Kent’s advice.

When Commissioner Lorinda Wichman asked Zlotek for a recommendation on scheduling the show cause hearing, Zlotek said though the appeal only concerns the sentence, “There is always a possibility that other appeal issues can be brought forth such as ineffective assistance of counsel or other appeal issues. How successful they will be is unknown. So we have a hearing set on the sentencing June 2010. I don’t know the time frame as to renewal of licenses. ”

Richards’ licenses were renewed for one quarter, which expired March 31.

Meanwhile, Hof said he was submitting his fingerprints Tuesday afternoon to begin the process of acquiring a Nye County brothel license.


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