Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008 | 12:08 p.m.
Two people who pleaded guilty to operating illegal brothels in Las Vegas and using illegal immigrants as prostitutes have been sentenced to federal prison terms.
Jia Hui Keyes, 43, owner and primary operator of the brothels, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay back taxes amounting to $92,368, U.S. Attorney Greg Brower said.
Keyes pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to operate a brothel involving the movement of women from other states and tax evasion.
Keyes' partner, Christopher Smith, 35, was sentenced on Wednesday to 37 months in prison, Smith also pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to operate a brothel and moving women from other states as well as possessing and distributing Ecstacy.
Keys and Smith were also ordered to forfeit $826,765. Three real properties used in brothel operations and purchased with brothel proceeds and about $60,000 in cash were seized as part of the forfeiture.
"As this case demonstrates, it is a federal crime to induce individuals to travel between Nevada and other states for prostitution," Brower said. Brothels are legal in 15 rural counties in Nevada. The two most populous counties, Clark and Washoe, ban brothels.
Between about 2004 and 2006, Keys and Smith operated brothels at various locations around Las Vegas. The men induced illegal aliens and other women to travel to Nevada and work as prostitutes. The prostitutes came mainly from Southern California and other states. Typically, the women worked 10 to 15 days at one brothel before being taken to a new brothel.
Three of the brothels were located at 3755 Arville St., 4008 Calle Mirador and 3474 Eldon St., all in Las Vegas.
According to the U.S. attorney's office, in 2004 Keyes earned about $333,182 in income from brothel operations. Keyes attempted to conceal the income from the IRS by conducting transactions in cash. Keyes also failed to file an individual income tax return for 2004.
Between about September 2006 and April 2007, Smith possessed and sold the drug Ecstacy in relation to brothel operations, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office