October 1955: Joe Conforte, a
former cabdriver and brothel operator, opens the Triangle River Ranch
brothel in Wadsworth. He will later become partners with Sally Burgess,
also a brothel owner. The two marry.
November 1959: Joe Conforte arrested and later convicted for trying to
extort Washoe County District Attorney Bill Raggio. Serves 22 months in
jail. Raggio and other officials burn down the Wadsworth brothel.
June 1963: Joe Conforte pleads guilty to tax evasion and is sentenced to
three years in federal prison. Released in December 1965.
1967: Joe and Sally Conforte take over the Mustang Bridge Ranch in
Storey County. Name later changed to Mustang Ranch.
1971: Storey County legalizes the Mustang Ranch brothel. Lyon County
follows suit in March 1972, legalizing its brothels in Mound House.
Later in the 1970s, Churchill, Mineral and Nye counties legalize brothel
prostitution in restricted areas following favorable public opinion
votes. Lander and Esmeralda counties legalize brothels in restricted
areas as well.
1973: Conforte sells land in Sparks to convention authority for what
became the Wildcreek Golf Course. His own land adjacent to the course
increases in value by $1 million.
1975: The Mustang Ranch burns to the ground in a suspected arson fire.
January 1976: A Washoe County grand jury investigation into Conforte’s
local influence finds close ties to Reno-Sparks officials, but no
May 1976: Boxer Oscar Bonavena, managed by Sally Conforte, is shot to
death outside the Mustang Ranch.
April 1977: Joe and Sally Conforte are arrested on 10 counts of
income-tax evasion. Sally is fined $10,000 and given a suspended
sentence. Joe faces a minimum five years in prison and $10,000 fine.
December 1980: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Joe Conforte’s tax conviction
appeal. Joe Conforte flees the country. Sally remains and runs Mustang
Sept. 10, 1982: Conforte opens an account at Discount Bank and Trust in
Geneva, Switzerland, under the name of Jose C. Montoya, making numerous
deposits and withdrawals.
October 1982: A Storey County grand jury, after a 2 1/2 year probe,
concludes Conforte has unusual influence and power in the county. The
jury says District Attorney Virgil Bucchianeri and Sheriff Bob Del Carlo
are implicated but no indictments result.
Nov. 24, 1982: Joseph Conforte deeds his interest in Mustang Ranch to
Jan. 24, 1983: Sally Conforte deeds back to herself and Joe Conforte
Mustang Ranch property, subject to bankruptcy plan.
December 1983: Joe Conforte returns. Bargains for an 18-month term in
return for testimony against federal Judge Harry Claiborne.
March 1984: Claiborne’s first trial on bribery and tax-evasion charges
ends in mistrial when jurors don’t buy Conforte’s story. Bribery charges
1985 to 1990: Several attempts to sell Mustang Ranch fail, including
attempts to make it a publicly traded corporation.
Aug. 14, 1990: About $800,000 transferred from Discount Bank and Trust
in Switzerland through Valley Bank to Mustang Properties.
September 1990: IRS seizes Mustang Ranch and fails in an attempt to run
the brothel to pay Conforte’s back taxes. The government padlocks it,
Sept. 18, 1990: Sally Conforte bankruptcy is converted into liquidation
under Chapter 7. Attorney Peter A. Perry files a Chapter 11 bankruptcy
for Joseph Conforte.
November 1990: Mustang Ranch and various memorabilia auctioned. The
ranch is sold to Mustang Properties Inc. for $1.49 million. The
corporation is represented by Victor Perry, brother of Conforte lawyer
Peter Perry. Joe Conforte returns to manage Mustang.
Nov. 30, 1990: About $1 million transferred from Discount Bank and Trust
in Switzerland to Mustang Properties.
April 1991: IRS auctions Joe Conforte’s other properties for $2 million.
Feb. 5, 1991: Joseph Conforte bankruptcy is dismissed.
August 1991: Conforte announces his retirement, saying he has served
more than 1.5 million customers in his 36-year career. He disappears
from the public scene.
May 6, 1992: Sally Conforte bankruptcy case is dismissed.
September 1992: Sally Conforte dies from diabetes and bad kidneys. Joe
Conforte does not attend her funeral.
Nov. 1, 1995: Federal grand jury indicts Conforte and his Reno lawyer,
Peter A. Perry.
June 14, 1996: Peter Perry pleads innocent to two charges in the
Dec. 2, 1996: Perry’s plea agreement unsealed.
Dec. 4, 1996: In an advertisement in the Reno Gazette-Journal and in an
interview published the next day, Conforte says he wants to return to
face charges, possibly by Christmas.
Jan. 28, 1997: The IRS files a $16 million tax lien alleging Conforte
owns the corporation that owns the Mustang Ranch. A lawyer for the
brothel denies that.
Feb. 19, 1997: Lawyers for Conforte want to know if he will get bail or
can be released on his own recognizance if he surrenders.
Aug. 5, 1998: The U. S. attorney indicts Joseph Conforte, A.G.E.
Enterprises Inc., A.G.E. Corp. Inc., Shirley Colletti, Joann Olcese and
Eduard Neves. Charges include bankruptcy fraud, aiding and abetting,
money laundering, witness tampering, racketeering, conspiracy and
July 1999: A.G.E. Enterprises Inc., A.G.E. Corp. Inc., the firms’ owners
and Shirley Colletti found guilty of racketeering and illegal wire
transfers. The shell owners transferred millions of dollars to Conforte.
Mustang is ordered closed.
Aug. 5, 1999: A legal attempt to block the closure fails.
Aug. 9, 1999: Mustang padlocked by federal agents.
Rules of the Mustang Ranch
1. If in doubt of the condition of the trick, call for a double
2. Girls are not allowed in any other girl's room unless working
3. Girls must remain in the parlor with tricks at all times.
4. Girls are not allowed to read, knit, crochet, etc. at any
time in the parlor.
5. Do not talk about your personal life to the other girls,
6. Girls are allowed two incoming phone calls and two outgoing
calls a week.
7. Girls must work a minimum of two weeks, three weekends. No
days off in between unless in case of emergency.
8. Prices are $10 and up. Before you walk a trick, you must give
half and half or full French for the minimum price.
9. Movies and a party is a $30 minimum. Girls with their own
projectors will have to pay the difference if anyone reports
their projector running during a party less than $30.
10. A man can have a 69 for $15.
11. No eating in the parlor.
12. Girls must straighten up their rooms after each trick. Keep
the pan, ashtray and sink cleaned. The maid is to clean the
rooms thoroughly once a week.
13. You are to tip the maids a minimum of $1 per day. Personal
laundry is to be done by the maids for which you pay her.
14. It is a house policy to take the money from one girl's book
and put it on another girl's book when there is a beef with a
customer. The house does not pay for his second party. The girl
that had the mis-understanding does.
15. No narcotics of any type will be tolerated. Anyone involved
with narcotics in any way whatsoever will be fired immediately.
16. You may go to the bar (The Mustang Bar, not owned by
Conforte, down at the highway) for 45 minutes after shift except
on weekends, holidays, if you have 10 hours off.