Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000 | 11:12 a.m.
Having survived legal and political attacks this summer, the historic Angel's Ladies Brothel in the remote Nevada desert is for sale for a cool $1.75 million.
Three workers at the 100-year old brothel won a court ruling Friday reversing their convictions of engaging in an outcall for prostitution. And an effort by citizens to shut down legalized prostitution in Nye County failed this summer when brothel opponents failed to turn in a petition seeking a public vote on whether to close the brothels.
Angel's Ladies Brothel, a 5,000-square-foot brothel located three miles north of Beatty in Nye County and 115 miles north of Las Vegas, is being offered with a 70-acre ranch with a fish pond.
It also has an 8-acre parcel that includes a pool, a garden, natural hot springs and a 2,700-foot private runway.
Mack Moore, the current owner, changed the 13-employee brothel's name to Angel's Ladies in April 1997 from Fran's Star Ranch because people were "confusing the brothel with a real ranch."
He said the sales agreement will provide that the new owner has to give the employees a year's employment or compensate them a year's wages if they are terminated.
Moore said revenues soared to $513,000 a year from just $65,000 after the brothel started promoting itself on the Internet last year.
"We had four to five customers a week before going online. After getting on the Internet, we now have 75 to 100 customers a week," he said. "The girls generally earn around $50,000 a year in commissions."
John Newman of Re/Max Advantage, the property's real estate agent, said the online advertisement of the brothel's sale offer generated 137 inquiries worldwide since August, when the sales offering was announced.
"We've eight girls in the house, but we're licensed to put only five girls on the floor, which means only five girls can walk out to greet a customer at the same time," Moore said.
Besides the eight prostitutes, another five people work in management and maintenance at the brothel.
Moore said his decision to sell the brothel was influenced more by his age than the brothel's recent brush with the law.
"I'm almost 72 years of age. This brothel is tying me down. I want to enjoy the last few years of my retirement."
The brothel was the subject of a sting operation in May 1999 by a Nye County Sheriff's detective, Jeff Grimaud, and its privilege license was temporarily suspended after three of its employees were convicted in February in Beatty Justice Court of attempting to engage in prostitution, a misdemeanor.
The Nye County Commission, acting as the county licensing and liquor board, closed the brothel for two weeks in May following the arrest of the brothel's manager, Wanda Lee Towns, her husband, Clinton Merle Towns, and a prostitute, Cindi Marie Morrison.
After Grimaud called the brothel and asked it to send a woman to his hotel room for the evening, Clinton Towns and Morrison met Grimaud at his room, where, according to Grimaud, a deal for sex was negotiated. Prostitution is legal in Nye County, but only within the confines of licensed brothels.
Moore, however, denied the charges. "My manager, Wanda Lee, broke the brothel rule by taking the prostitute out of the brothel to meet the man, but that's because Grimaud had implied that he didn't want sex, just a dinner date."
"That was entrapment, they tricked the prostitute into going out," he said. "The girl didn't break the laws. There was no deal negotiated for sex. She didn't take any condoms, just her dancing shoes."
The trio won their appeal Friday.
"The state didn't present evidence that it had reasonable cause to believe any of the particular defendants were predisposed to commit the target crimes," Nye County Judge John Davis ruled. "The state failed to meet their burden to show entrapment did not occur."
Meanwhile, a petition to ban brothels circulated in June by brothel opponents never got off the ground because it wasn't submitted to the County Clerk's office, said deputy County Clerk Darlene Wilson. The petition required 10 percent of Nye County's registered voters, equal to about 2,017 names, to be filed with the county clerk's office before a July 28 deadline.
Moore, who said the brothel industry is the largest tax revenue earner for Beatty after mining industry declines, said his brothel brings $1.5 to $2 million in economic activity to the county -- about $500,000 in brothel revenue, and the remainder when patrons eat at restaurants, stay at local hotels, gamble and buy gasoline and souvenirs.
There are currently 25 brothels statewide, compared to a high of 36 in the past decade.
Nye County has six brothels constituting 40 percent of the state's business because three of the brothels are among the largest operators in the state and the brothels feed from the Las Vegas tourism industry, said George Flint, a consultant to Nevada's legal brothel owners.