Convicted brothel owner may end up losing operating license
Appeal Staff Writer
Storey County officials are weighing their options after a brothel owner was convicted last week in Wyoming of possessing and transporting child pornography.
David Burgess, who owns the Old Bridge Ranch in the north end of the county, could lose his brothel license as a result of his conviction.
Burgess, 55, who is also an alleged Hells Angels motorcycle gang member, faces five to 30 years in prison, up to a $500,000 fine and five years’ to life probation after his release. He was handcuffed and taken into federal custody immediately after his conviction.
Storey County Sheriff Jim Miller said his office was collecting data on the Burgess case and had not made any decisions on the brothel license.
“We’re aware of (the case),” he said. “What we do now is look at all of the options, review different things. We are gathering facts and talking to different authorities.”
According to the county code, Miller said, a person who has a felony conviction can’t have a brothel license.
Miller said there were procedures that his department had to follow, and they were following them and would be addressing the issue after their investigation is complete.
At his trial in Cheyenne, Wyo., Burgess was described in testimony as an avid photographer, always taking photos of motorcycle runs or of his neighbor’s garden.
But prosecutors said investigators found more sinister images on two hard drives that were seized from Burgess’ motor home last July during a traffic stop in western Wyoming. The hard drives contained a vast collection of child pornography images, well-organized and carefully labeled, prosecutors said.
James Barrett, the assistant federal public defender representing Burgess, said the convictions will be appealed.
“I think Mr. Burgess was disappointed, and it’s obvious that his family and friends and supporters were disappointed,” Barrett said outside the courtroom.
Barrett said the appeal will be at least partly based on U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson’s ruling last week to allow evidence taken from the computer equipment to be used in the trial.
Burgess had attempted to suppress any evidence taken from the hard drives, arguing that the equipment was beyond the scope of a search warrant obtained by Wyoming law enforcement authorities.
Johnson ruled that the officers had probable cause to take the equipment and that investigators acted properly in the way they handled the case.
Burgess told police he was on his way to the 2007 Hells Angels USA Run in Eureka Springs, Ark., when he was stopped in western Wyoming in July because of an expired license plate.
During the stop, Burgess was arrested on drug charges when officers found substances believed to be marijuana and cocaine in the vehicle, police said. State drug charges stemming from the traffic stop were later dismissed.
Officers have testified that they confiscated the computer equipment from Burgess’ Freightliner motor home because they believed it could contain evidence related to drug trafficking.
• Contact Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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