Nye County permanently shuts down Dennis Hof's Love Ranch brothel

Dennis Hof (FOX5 FILE)

Dennis Hof's Love Ranch Brothel north of Pahrump has been shut down. The Nye County Board of Commissioners voted to permanently revoke Hof's brothel license on Tuesday.

Commissioner Lorinda Wichman, who is also in charge of the county's liquor and licensing board, said Hof has been repeatedly late to renew his license and has refused to fix health and safety violations at his property.

Earlier this year, the county temporarily suspended operations at the Love Ranch due to the violations.

Sonja Bandolik, a madam on the menu at the Love Ranch, said she believes Nye County has been targeting Hof because of his campaign for Nevada State Assembly.

"All they're doing is a bit of political masturbation, trying to get us shut down without consideration of all the people that they're hurting," she said. "We have a lot of single moms here that are the primary bread winners of their family."

A spokesperson for Nye County said the Love Ranch had 18 employees, including 11 prostitutes and seven other workers.

"(Hof) says this is motivated by political agendas," Wichman said. "I am motivated by my obligation of the public and those who elected me." "I really don't care what his political aspirations are. I'm not in his district. I can't vote for him or against him if I wanted to,"

"Lorinda has made it public that she wants her legacy to be that she is the one who shut down the brothels in Nye County," Bandolik argued. "Businesses have to comply with the rules, but if they make a mistake they should have an opportunity to fix it."

Wichman said any claim that she is against legal prostitution is false based on her voting record.

"I am an advocate for regulated brothels," she said. "I am not naive enough to believe that you could ever eliminate prostitution anywhere. You can either make it legal or illegal. Regulated or unregulated."

Wichman was asked: "You're just not an advocate for Dennis Hof?"

"Well, I am an advocate for my integrity," Wichman responded. "He's self-serving. I think he thinks he's above the law."

Wichman said, in the future, she would never be able to approve a privileged brothel license for Hof based on his character.

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly stated in an email that Love Ranch employees initially confronted her deputies when they came to enforce the board's decision.

"The Executive Manager for Dennis Hof contacted the Sheriff and indicated that they would not allow the Nye County Sheriff's Deputies on the premises," Wehrly wrote. "Therefore, a warrant was submitted and granted by Pahrump Justice of the Peace Margaret Whittaker to enter and retrieve the licenses and the work cards. Upon arrival, the brothel personnel opened their doors to the Nye County Sheriff's Deputies, surrendered the licenses and the work cards without a problem. There was no confrontation on either side and we were informed an appeal will be forthcoming."

Wichman said she was especially concerned that Hof's employees refused to allow deputies on site. "That alone is one reason to revoke a license in the code," she said. "You have to allow our law enforcement officers to have access."

Chuck Muth, in charge of Hof's campaign, confirmed Hof will be fighting the board's decision.

"My understanding is that Dennis has been speaking with his attorney this morning and intends some sort of legal action,” Muth said. "What I do know is that Dennis had no plans to end operations at the Love Ranch South.”

Despite the permanent ban, a sign on the door of the Love Ranch states that the brothel is only "temporarily" closed.

FOX5 had a phone interview scheduled through Hof's assistant Wednesday evening, but Hof did not answer the phone at the arranged time, nor did he call back."Personally, I'm just sad because the brothel system is so Nevada," Bandolik said. "Ninety-nine percent of our girls have decided to live here permanently, so this is their only home."

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