Nevada businessman Dennis Hof has had his Love Ranch brothel license reinstated after a narrow vote by the Nye County Liquor and Licensing Board but keeping the license from here on out will require Hof to comply with an array of conditions.
A special meeting was held on March 16 at the request of Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig. Before proceeding with his motion to rescind the suspension of Hof’s brothel license, he took a moment to touch on alleged perjury by Hof and his representatives during Hof’s disciplinary hearing in February.
At that hearing, Hof and his representative, Zack Hames, both assured the commissioners that the issue with signs placed at the corner on Appaloosa and Ranch roads in Crystal had been resolved and that they had secured a lease from the Bureau of Land Management that allowed the signs to be there.
However, following that hearing, Koenig and other county officials stated they do not believe that lease agreement actually exists. Despite this, Koenig remarked that the situation would not be addressed by the commission as it constituted a criminal matter.
“As far as I know, the comment was made by Mr. Risman, Mr. Hof and Mr. Zack that you had an agreement with the BLM for the signs,” Koenig said. “As far as I know you do not have an agreement with the BLM for the signs. On the advice of counsel, I have been told that should be treated as a criminal matter to be handled by somebody else, so I am not going to address it.”
Koenig then made his motion, which included a series of conditions.
Conditions of approval
First, he directed Hof to ensure he complies with the 30 days given to him by the Nevada state fire marshal to address approximately 30 minor fire code violations at the Love Ranch brothel. Second, Koenig said Hof must adhere to the original timeline of 90 days to address the re-merger of the two parcels upon which the brothel sits, as well as the issue with a nonexistent road that cuts through the buildings on those lots and for which the county still maintains a right to accept dedication thereof.
Within 30 days Hof is also required to hire and provide the county with the name of a licensed certified professional who would be tasked with drafting as-built plans for all the buildings at the Love Ranch, in order to prove each is compliant with building codes. After the initial 30 days, he will have a further 60 days for the professional to submit the plans to the county.
Once received and reviewed by the county, if any buildings need to be addressed, Hof will have another 30 days to complete whatever work is necessary to become compliant.
Finally, Koenig directed that a monthly status report be given to planning to track the progress of the conditions of reinstatement. “I don’t want to come back here,” Koenig stated. “I want this done. If you don’t comply, it’s not going to be pretty… I want to get through this.”
Nye County Commissioner Donna Cox seconded the motion but commissioner Lorinda Wichman was not on board.
“Nye County Code 9.20.130 subsection A subsection 6 states, ‘No operation may be conducted in violation of any city, county, state or federal ordinance, statute or regulation.’ So without those fixes already being made, you are not going to compel this commissioner to violate the oath I took to uphold the law in order for you to continue to violate the law,” Wichman asserted.
The motion to approve reinstatement of the license passed 2-1 with Koenig and Cox in favor and Wichman against.
Nye County Commissioners Dan Schinhofen and Butch Borasky both recused themselves from the vote, due to the fact that Hof currently has lawsuits filed against both. Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, who sits as the sixth member of the Nye County Liquor and Licensing Board, also recused herself due to a lawsuit filed against her by Hof. All three stated that they believed they could vote without bias but cited a public perception of impropriety as the reason for their recusal.
Schinhofen did note that he would not recuse himself from any further item dealing with Hof.
After the item came to a close, public comment included very tense discussions between officials, which ultimately evolved into something of a shouting match.
“With all of the promotion and the support that Mr. Hof is getting from Don Cox and Donna Cox, why the hell was there no recusal, why the hell was there no disclosure?” Wichman asked with obvious anger. “You expect our other commissioners to stand by those laws, to uphold that integrity and yet nobody throws a fit… They (Coxs) have already mentioned that they got to stay the night in the VIP room and they were fed breakfast the next morning.”
“Are you kidding me? You can stop right there, that’s a lie!” Cox snapped back. “You show me anywhere on record where I said that!”
With voices raised and argument rife, Koenig interjected and was eventually able to calm the fervor and adjourn the meeting.
A request for information on whether the county would be moving forward with criminal perjury charges has not yet been returned.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes
Brothel ballot measure?
Following the 2-1 decision by the Nye County Licensing and Liquor Board to reinstate Dennis Hof’s brothel license, Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman dropped a bombshell, stating that she would like to see about having a question placed on the 2018 ballot to address the brothel industry. Wichman said she would like to see the community vote on whether brothels should remain or be disallowed in Nye County.
“I’d like to see what the votersthink about keeping prostitution in Nye County,” Wichman said.
She asked staff to follow up on that to find out how to go about taking such an action.