Nevada brothel owner: Pulled license stems from candidacy

February 28, 2018

FILE - In this June 13, 2016, file photo, Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a legal brothel near Carson City, Nevada, is pictured during an interview during a break in the trial of Denny Edward Phillips and Russell Lee Hogshooter in Oklahoma City. Nevada's best-known legal brothel owner is accusing officials in rural Nye County of suspending his license to operate his property closest to Las Vegas to retaliate against him for running for political office. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s best-known legal brothel owner is accusing officials in rural Nye County of suspending his license to operate his property closest to Las Vegas in retaliation for running for political office.

Dennis Hof said the closure on Sunday stemmed from his bid for the Republican nomination to unseat incumbent GOP state Assemblyman James Oscarson.

“It’s continued harassment and use of power by public officials to put me out of business,” Hof said Wednesday. “I had no trouble with code enforcement until I announced I’m running for office.”

Oscarson, in a statement issued through spokeswoman Laura Billman, denied having anything to do with Hof’s case.

“He blamed me, and other elected officials, for a situation he put himself in, by apparently not following county and state codes,” the statement said.

A letter from the county, dated Friday, said Hof’s brothel license was suspended for health and safety reasons after he failed to produce permits for renovations made in recent years to trailer homes where prostitutes work at his Love Ranch Vegas.

“The bar, restaurant and entrance area are compliant or at least safe for continued use,” the letter said. “However, the brothel area is problematic.”

County spokesman Arnold Knightly said there was no hearing scheduled on a plan for Hof to reopen the property.

Hof has three brothel licenses in Nye County, where he operates two properties, and four licenses in northern Nevada.

His property near Carson City — the Moonlite BunnyRanch — was the subject of a cable TV series called “CatHouse.”

The Love Ranch Vegas, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Las Vegas, was in the spotlight in 2015 after former professional basketball player Lamar Odom became unconscious there with cocaine in his system.

Hof has clashed several times with Nye County officials and fought allegations last year that prostitutes at his Area 51 Death Valley Cathouse were working without proper work permits and medical examination records. The charges were later dropped.

Hof and two other people sued a county commissioner in December, claiming defamation in comments made during a November board meeting. That case is pending.

Legal brothels operate in seven rural Nevada counties. Prostitution is not legal in Clark and Washoe counties, or the state’s biggest cities, Las Vegas and Reno.

Update hourly