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September 23, 2018

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Judge restores Dennis Hof’s brothel license; Love Ranch to reopen

Hof estimated he lost $100,000 in the three weeks his brothel was closed

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Steve Marcus

Dennis Hof smiles during an interview at his Love Ranch legal brothel in Crystal, Nev. Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Hof recently won the Republican primary election for Nevada State Assembly District 36.

A federal judge ordered Nye County to restore and reinstate Dennis Hof’s brothel and liquor licenses for his Love Ranch South brothel 70 miles north of Las Vegas.

The Nye County Board of Commissioners voted to revoke Hof’s licenses at an Aug. 7 meeting, citing late payments to the county and repeated violations.

Judge Richard Boulware ordered a preliminary injunction based on perceived First Amendment retaliation by Nye County Commissioners Dan Schinhofen and Andrew “Butch” Borasky. Hof has lawsuits against both commissioners for comments and actions they’ve made about him.

Boulware noted that the two commissioners, along with Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, recused themselves from voting on Hof’s license earlier this year at the request of the county’s lawyer, Rebecca Bruch, due to pending litigation. Despite that, Schinhofen and Borasky voted to revoke Hof’s license this month. Bruch was not in attendance during that meeting.

Boulware banned the pair of commissioners from voting on any action regarding Hof and his brothel licenses while pending litigation goes forward.

Also at question was Nye County claiming Hof paid his quarterly dues late. The brothel fee renewal process requires brothel owners to pay their fees 30 days before the license expired, but Boulware noted that almost every brothel was paying after the 30-day limit because the county was sending out the notices well into the 30-day time constraint.

Dennis Hof at the Love Ranch

Dennis Hof poses in the Bondage and Discipline Room with Madam on the Menu Sonja Bandolik, left, and legal prostitute Paris Envy at his Love Ranch legal brothel in Crystal, Nev. Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Hof recently won the Republican primary election for Nevada State Assembly District 36. Launch slideshow »

has maintained that there has been a political vendetta against him by members of the board since he announced he was running for the Assembly. In June, a political sign of Hof’s critical of Schinhofen was removed by the county, but was ordered returned to the site by a federal judge. That story was included as evidence at today’s hearing.

“It’s right over might,” Hof said. “The county did bad things to me; they took away my business, affecting 40 peoples’ families, and the judge saw right through it. It’s political retribution.”

Claims that the Love Ranch was in violation of county building codes were unfounded, according to Boulware, as the agenda item for the brothel license renewal stated that the brothel was found to be in compliance with county code.

Hof estimated that the three-week closure cost him about $100,000 in lost profits. Boulware ordered Hof to pay $5,000 security bond in order to reopen by 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Boulware made it clear that today’s ruling didn’t mean the county couldn’t proceed with regulating brothels, especially Hof’s, for future violations and problems. Bruch feared that if any new violations would be discovered and brought up, Hof would file another lawsuit, thinking he is untouchable after being successful at today’s hearing.

Nye County spokesperson Arnold Knightly said the county is looking to address the way it handles brothel licenses — making it a county administration duty, taking away the sheriff office’s role — to make it a more streamlined process. The way establishments are notified of their dues and the 30-day requirement are included in the overhaul.

Schinhofen was heard in court saying he wanted to fire his lawyer, as he was upset that Bruch didn’t call on him to testify as a witness. Only Commissioner Lorinda Wichman was called to testify.

Nye County officials did not comment following the judge’s decision, apart from a brief statement from Schinhofen.

“They called me to be here because they wanted me to testify. … They didn’t call me to testify, and the judge made his decision,” he said.