Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss was slapped with formal criminal charges Monday related to the nearly 400 pot plants found growing last month on her Pahrump property.
Fleiss, 47, was charged with one count of opening or maintaining a place for unlawful sale, gift or use of a controlled substance, a category B felony, and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell (schedules I and II), a category D felony.
Fleiss’ local attorney, Jason Earnest, said he wasn’t surprised by the felony charges.
“With the DA’s history in cases like these, those charges are in the neighborhood of what I would expect to see,” he said. “At this point they are just allegations; I think there are some things that may come out later on down the line in the case, but my client plans to be here and to face this head-on.”
The charges are related to an Aug. 7 discovery at her home, located at 1451 E. Fort Churchill Road in Pahrump, by a Nye County Sheriff’s deputy looking for a wanted person. The deputy didn’t find his suspect, but did stumble onto the alleged pot farm containing 392 marijuana plants.
According to police, the officer had gone to the residence and knocked on the open front door to the main house. When no one answered, he walked toward the back of the property, at which time he found a portion of the plants growing in pots in the backyard.
The officer then asked for narcotics and street crimes detectives to respond to the address to investigate.
Shortly after additional deputies arrived on scene, they made contact with Fleiss who was found walking out of a second residence on the east side of the property.
After she granted officers permission to search the building she had just come from, they allegedly found additional marijuana plants growing inside.
At the time of the incident, police said Fleiss told officers she was growing marijuana to supply a cooperative in Las Vegas, but she allegedly could not produce the necessary documentation to support that claim.
As Fleiss continued to speak with deputies, she allegedly admitted — in a roundabout way they noted — that she was going to get a license because she did not currently have one. She allegedly said she hoped to sell the marijuana, which she admitted to growing, to the pot cooperative.
Fleiss allegedly further told police a man from the cooperative was the one who had shown her how to grow the ganja.
Police said Fleiss additionally stated she had been attempting to destroy some of the smaller plants in the separate residence because she felt that she was growing too much already.
A search of the rest of the property led to the discovery of 234 plants growing in the separate residence and 158 growing in the backyard, for a total of 392 plants in all.
Police reportedly located several bottles of chemicals used to grow marijuana along with two grow lights and one ballast. The suspected pot plants were collected as evidence and all other items were collected for destruction.
Despite the large number of plants discovered on the property, Fleiss was not arrested. Police said her cooperation in the matter weighed in her favor.
Also, the fact she had $200,000 worth of exotic birds in her home, which would have posed a significant burden on county animal control officers, helped keep her out of jail.
Fleiss is scheduled to appear in Pahrump Justice Court for an arraignment in the case on Oct. 23.