Convicted brothel owner David Burgess won't be getting his license back anytime soon, leaving his estranged wife, Ingrid, who has run the business, out of work.
Burgess' license for the Old Bridge Ranch in northern Storey County, which Ingrid Burgess managed, was suspended May 9 after he was convicted in federal court in Wyoming for possessing and transporting child pornography. He has been incarcerated since his April 18 conviction, and is scheduled to be sentenced July 7 in Cheyenne, Wyo. He faces from five to 30 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
Not long after the brothel license suspension, Sheriff Jim Miller suspended Burgess' liquor and escort licenses.
On Friday at a contentious public hearing, the Storey County Brothel Licensing Board and the Liquor Licensing Board, comprised of Miller and the three county commissioner, upheld both suspensions.
Mark Picker, attorney for David and Ingrid Burgess, accused the county of unfairness, providing 200 pages of documents to be used against his client only one minute before the hearing began.
He was denied a continuance of the hearing by Chairman Greg "Bum" Hess. Nevertheless, Picker took his time reading the documents at the podium for more than an hour.
Picker noted that a judge had not certified the guilty verdict, and under federal law, a conviction doesn't exist until that point.
He also accused Hess, Commissioner Bob Kershaw and Storey County special counsel Mark Gunderson of having a conflict of interest. Picker said Hess has business ties to Burgess' chief competitor in the brothel business, Lance Gilman, who owns the Wild Horse and Mustang II brothels. Kershaw's son worked for Gilman and Gunderson had represented Gilman in a previous case involving Burgess.
Picker has filed writs with the First District Court in Carson City and Storey County, and plans to ask the court to overturn the board's decision.
Picker also challenged the board's inclusion into evidence of checks with nonsufficient funds marked on them, saying that every check was made good and accepted by the county.
He said the county tried to pull Burgess' brothel license in 1998 because of his client's associations with the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, but was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court.
"Given the plethora of misstatements, misleading allegations and unproven allegations within the complaint served by the sheriff, on behalf of the sheriff, we believe we have proven and shown cause that not only should this license not be revoked, but the suspension should be lifted," he said.
Gunderson responded that the hearing was about Burgess and his actions, not anyone's involvement with Gilman, and added that all documents were part of the previous record and Picker had access to it.
"It's unfortunate that this commission as well as its counsel has to suffer through scurrilous and unfounded allegations against your integrity and mine," he said.
Gunderson said Burgess was found guilty of two very serious crimes and regardless of technical definitions, clearly violated county rules governing brothels.
"This case is about David Burgess and Mr. Burgess doing something he should not have done, and that constitutes a crime of moral turpitude under anyone's rules," he said. "He had been found guilty of a crime involving sex with minors."
Burgess was not charged with having sex with minors, and the contention that he did so brought a loud and angry objection from Picker.
George Flint, head of the Nevada Brothel Association who last month offered to run the Old Bridge Ranch in a receivership to keep its value so it could be sold, alleged that Gunderson's client, whom Picker identified as Gilman, had threatened him for trying to help the Old Bridge.
After the testimony, Miller said he believed that Burgess violated his trust with the county and said the license is a privilege not a right.
"I believe we are compelled and obligated to take action and I stand by my vote last time."
Kershaw acknowledged that Ingrid Burgess ran the brothel most of the time and was a good neighbor to the people of Lockwood, but said since David Burgess' name is on the license, he had no choice but to go along with the suspension.