|Posted on Monday, February 19, 2001 - 2:19 pm: |
Ex-Cop Has Big Plans for Nevada Brothel
Hopes to Expand, Remodel Bordello Into a Ritzy 'Gentleman's Club'
LAS VEGAS (APBnews.com) -- A former homicide detective and one-time candidate for sheriff plans to transform a house of prostitution in the Nevada Desert into the "Bellagio of cathouses."
Chuck Lee, a 30-year veteran with the Las Vegas and Chicago police departments, recently finalized the sale of Sheri's Ranch, a legal Nye County brothel that sits on 310 acres and is furnished with a private airstrip for clients.
The 64-year-old former detective also ran for Clark County sheriff in 1998, but came in third.
Prostitution is legal in counties in Nevada with populations of less than 200,000.
Lee told APBnews.com that he planned to rebuild the brothel, which opened in 1982, but that he was "taking it a step at a time."
"We have to get the license approved first," he said.
Lee said he intended to remain working as general manager of the bordello, a position he has held for about 11 months.
He said the existing brothel would remain in operation while a new one is built behind it. The brothel sits on the outskirts of the town of Pahrump, about 65 miles southwest of Las Vegas, and has a 3,200-foot runway on the property for clientele using private planes.
The bordello started out as a small mobile home with two stick-frame wings added in 1989, an employee said.
Beauty salon, riding stables
Ray Slaughter, a former polygraph expert and current manager at Sheri's Ranch, described the proposed brothel as "the Bellagio of cathouses," referring to the five-star hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
"It's going to have a beauty salon for the girls, and tennis courts, riding stables, a restaurant and overnight facilities for the men -- more of a gentlemen's club," Slaughter said.
The brothel will also be renamed the Stallion Ranch, he said.
Sheri's is one of seven brothels in southern Nevada and one of two in Nye County. It has a house capacity of 14 working prostitutes. The new brothel license will allow for "25 girls," Slaughter said.
Lee and partner Dave Franks purchased the brothel from owner James Miltenberger for an undisclosed price. While the sale has been finalized, it is still contingent upon license approval, Lee said.
He acknowledged that the cost was "in the millions," but said: "I'd rather that information come from the former owner."
Miltenberger was out of town and unavailable for comment. According to a Sheri's employee who declined to be named, a February 1999 offer of $7 million by a real-estate agent was turned down in writing by Miltenberger.
According to a Nye County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman, Lee's application for an owner's license for Sheri's was received a week ago.
Brothel licensees undergo extensive background checks, which a sheriff's spokeswoman said was currently under way for Lee. But Lee said he did not foresee any problems and expected the matter to go before commissioners "before the end of the year."
Former madam writes book
Lee worked as an investigator for the Clark County District Attorney's Office after retiring from the Las Vegas Police Department in 1983 after 15 years. In 1991, he bought what has been reported as a "sizable chunk" of a car dealership. He sold his share in late 1998 and went to work at Sheri's a few months later.
Sheri's Ranch was featured in a 1998 book titled Madam: Chronicles of a Nevada Cathouse, penned by former madam Lora Shaner, who takes the reader behind the scenes and into the parlor and bedrooms of the brothel