He’s not well known outside Nye County, where he’s built his whorehouse kingdom and courted the kind of controversy that would end the careers of lesser skin merchants. But at the rate he’s going, and given the salacious nature of the medium, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Richards get his own “reality” TV series. That’s just the kind of lucky guy he is.
How lucky is he?
For starters, Richards lives in a state where his profession is legal in some counties. Outside Nevada, he’d be just another pimp. Here in the live-and-let-live Silver State, he’s a licensed businessman and taxpayer.
Richards was lucky even when he was caught on tape in 2005 trying to give a $5,000 bribe to Nye County Commissioner Candice Trummell to gain her assistance in his attempt to rezone some property for use as a brothel. He was fortunate because it was evident from the transcript Richards was pretty comfortable offering cash to public servants.
When Trummell turned him in, she was criticized in some Nye County circles for making too much of it. Richards was indicted and, with his good fortune, hired attorney Richard Wright, who carved out the best possible deal. Richards pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in 2009 and was sentenced to a one year in a halfway house and was released early. He also received a $250,000 fine and five years probation, but he never saw the inside of a real prison despite his conviction in federal court.
Now that’s a lucky man.
Instead of immediately terminating his brothel licenses, Nye County officials moved slowly enough for Richards to broker a deal to sell his Cherry Patch and Mabel’s Whorehouse brothels to Dennis Hof. Perhaps believing that idle hands do the devil’s work, Richards kept the Cherry Patch 2 in Lathrop Wells.
An ordinary fellow would have folded his brothel tent and moved on, but not Richards. Not only did he keep one house of ill repute, he filed a lawsuit against Nye County commissioners when it became clear his liquor license for his Kingdom Gentleman’s Club appeared likely to be pulled. That takes a level of audacity few can match.
This past week, we learned Richards has decided to drop his litigation, which challenged the legality of Nye County’s liquor license ordinance. Although, if anyone would have an understanding of legal issues it’s probably Richards, he seemed only too happy to pay a $50,000 fine and have his liquor license placed on “probation.”
The commission might easily have voided his license, which would have made the Kingdom all but worthless. Not many cowboys are going to be satisfied to drink soda pop while gawking at the skinny girls.
For $50,000, he might have saved millions in investment and future profits. And he gets to keep one of his brothels, too.
Commissioners found many reasons to allow Richards to continue operating, according to the Pahrump Valley Times. One said he thought the fine was appropriate, especially considering the Nye County sheriff’s office didn’t offer new arguments against allowing Richards to keep his license. Strange, but I thought the fact he’s already been convicted of a felony in a federal bribery case was sufficient.
Another commissioner argued Richards’ advanced age and diminished business capacity made it a decision of compassion.
Hey, defense attorneys charge $400 an hour for that kind of representation.
Some people make their own luck through hard work or by hitting the lottery.
Others just pay for it.
Lucky Joe Richards? He just cut the check.
John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702 383-0295.