Two months after the county vowed that Nevada’s most notorious legal bordello had seen its last prostitute, and a month after it was sold at auction, the Mustang Ranch prepared for business Tuesday.
“We reopened this morning,” former owner Joe Conforte said. “We could have opened the day the IRS left.”
Conforte, who now is listed as general manager rather than owner of the brothel 10 miles east of Reno, appeared before the Storey County commissioners as a “courtesy.”
“I didn’t have to show up here at all,” he said. “I’m not here to ask for a license. I’m here as a common courtesy to this board to tell you how it is.”
Conforte claimed that even though the Internal Revenue Service padlocked the 104-room brothel in September and sold it two months later to recoup some $13 million in taxes owed by him and his wife, Sally, his license to operate the business remained in effect.
Storey County Sheriff Bob Del Carlo said that although prostitutes began moving back into the brothel during the morning, no business would transpire until health cards administered through his office were issued.
A few weeks after the IRS seizure, the county commission agreed to cancel the special permit that allowed the Mustang Ranch to operate as a brothel because of the circus atmosphere surrounding it.
But at least two commissioners earlier this month said they would reconsider that action after county revenue lost the $60,000 annual license fee and the 2% tax from each of the Mustang’s occupied rooms.
Conforte said he paid the county $16,500 for his quarterly license fee two weeks ago, including a 10% late fee.
While the commission debated whether it could accept Conforte’s quarterly payment for his licenses at the Mustang Bridge Ranch and the adjoining Triangle River Ranch, both part of the Mustang Ranch compound, Conforte sweetened his offer for them and a third, small operation run by his nephew.
“We would like to make a proposal that the license fees for all three places, whether they’re open or not, be raised to $35,000 if and when the dust settles. That would provide $105,000 to the county.”
The county commission took no action.
Peter Perry, Conforte’s lawyer, said that because of building code deficiencies, only the smaller Triangle River Ranch part of the Mustang Ranch compound will resume operations.
Perry happens to be listed with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office as the sole officer of the ranch’s new owner, Mustang Properties Inc.
The Mustang closed Sept. 18.