Owner of Nevada Brothel Became ‘Major Stakeholder’ In Operation Underground Railroad

Brothel Owner Lance Gilman Donated $33,000 and Advocated Legalized Prostitution at Operation Underground Railroad Gala Fundraiser. Gilman bragged at a press event, “They’ve[O.U.R.] had a couple of functions here and I’ve put a ton of money in there”

For additional articles covering O.U.R., please go to ACJ Investigates: Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad

On March 8, 2018, Lance Gilman handed Tim Ballard a check to the tune of $33,000. This curious exchange occurred in the midst of the annual Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) Gala Fundraiser, hosted at the opulent Silver Legacy Grand Exposition Hall in Reno, Nevada. By all accounts, the evening’s atmosphere was rife with more than mere philanthropy. Gilman and his cadre from the Mustang Ranch seized the moment to fervently champion the cause of legalized prostitution, allegedly under the nose of none other than Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Lance Gilman, a figure of notoriety as both the Storey County Commissioner and proprietor of the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel, found himself on the guest list, courtesy of the now-disgraced founder of Operation Underground Railroad, Tim Ballard. In a public spectacle, Gilman generously donated the aforementioned sum to the beleaguered anti-human trafficking non-profit.

According to multiple ads placed by Operation Underground Railroad and event organizer James Kroshus, “The gala will include dinner and entertainment and will take place in the Silver Legacy’s Grande Exposition Hall Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 6:00 pm. The program will feature guest speaker Tim Ballard, Founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, Brian Jenkins, who will present a Chautauqua portraying Abraham Lincoln, and FARJA, a family singing group that will perform pop, spiritual, and rhythm & blues songs. Ticket price to attend this black-tie (optional) affair is $105″

The Comstock Chronicle reported on April 5, 2018 that Lance Gilman and the Mustang Ranch had become, “major stakeholders in the fight against abuse of women and human trafficking”.

Gilman is quoted at length in the article, mostly fawning over Ballard and O.U.R.’s fabricated and exaggerated claims, “The video and photo presentation at the event was just heartbreaking. It was very informative, thought provoking and disturbing presentation about how these women are abused and trafficked. Tim’s group reported over two million children are being trafficked at any given time in the world. That’s horrifying.”

American Crime Journal spoke with three independent witnesses who attended the event and was provided a copy of the Comstock Chronicle article.

Nearly two years later at a press event held at the Mustang Ranch, Lance Gilman announced the formation of the Mustang Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping victims of trafficking, “in a method similar to groups like Operation Underground Railroad”. Gilman told the Reno News & Review in an article dated February 6, 2020, “They’ve[O.U.R.] had a couple of functions here and I’ve put a ton of money in there. They set up stings in China, in Taiwan in Australia. They have their lives at stake infiltrating these goddamn groups so they could do something with them.”

Those in attendance at the event were stunned at Tim Ballard’s sudden turnaround. A Reno based minister who serves as a director of non-profit that focuses on child sex abuse was in attendance, “For years Tim Ballard would say that even pornography which is a highly regulated industry was a source of rampant child sex trafficking and abuse of women, only to allow a pimp to advocate for legal prostitution at a fundraiser?”

A campus minister at a major university who also serves as director of an anti-human trafficking non-profit, provided ACJ with a copy of the article.

Ballard is on record on at least two separate occasions stating that “95% of prostitution is forced” and has long advocated against pornography.

Who is Lance Gilman?

Lance Gilman, a prominent figure in Storey County, Nevada, epitomizes a unique juxtaposition of roles and perspectives. Some see him as nothing more than “a cheap smut-and-flesh peddler”. Yet, beyond his ownership of Bordellos, Gilman holds the pivotal position of principal and director of the renowned Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, which stands as the world’s largest industrial park. This colossal hub, recognized as the primary economic catalyst for Northern Nevada, owes much of its success to Gilman’s unwavering efforts in luring major corporate giants such as Kal-Kan, Wal-Mart, and Dell Computers to its precincts.

In the wake of the catastrophic 2008 housing market collapse, Gilman emerged as a linchpin in Northern Nevada’s economic resurgence. He is widely acknowledged for spearheading the region’s recovery, orchestrating an economic renaissance that proved instrumental in reviving the local fortunes. Notably, Gilman’s involvement in securing Tesla Motors’ colossal $5 billion gigafactory project within the industrial park he oversees exemplifies his indomitable role in Nevada’s economic development. His endeavors translated into an impressive $43 million windfall, further cementing his legacy in the state’s economic revitalization.

Much like his idols, Tim Ballard and Donald Trump, Lance Gilman skillfully portrays himself as a target of a media conspiracy, a narrative he believes aims to derail his political career. Just a mere two years ago, he embarked on a highly contentious and personal crusade against local journalists who endeavored to unveil corruption and the murky world of pay-to-play politics. Notably, the courtroom delivered a verdict compelling Lance Gilman to part with a significant sum of $190,000, payable to a journalist and their attorney, following his loss in a defamation lawsuit.

Sam Toll, a journalist who operates The Storey Teller, boldly accused the brothel owner, and Storey County Commissioner, of not being a genuine resident of the county he purported to represent. This accusation carried seismic implications, casting a shadow of doubt over Gilman’s legitimacy as an elected official and triggering profound inquiries into the very essence of political representation.

In an unexpected twist, Gilman retaliated by taking Toll to court, setting the stage for a high-stakes legal drama that unfolded in the public eye. The apex of this legal skirmish arrived when the Nevada Supreme Court, invoking the state’s anti-SLAPP statutes, intervened, adding an extra layer of intrigue. This courtroom showdown served to underscore the intricate terrain of residency, political representation, and the influence of public participation in the realm of local governance.

Allegations and Revelations: Tim Ballard, Sean Reyes, and O.U.R.’s Culture of Deviancy

Rumors have persisted for years that Tim Ballard, O.U.R. operatives and major donors consumed alcohol and drugs when they were supposed to be on operations. While several associates and affiliates of Tim Ballard and Attorney General Sean Reyes have claimed that both men frequented strips clubs, hired strippers and attended sex parties, nothing had tied Ballard directly to a Nevada brothel.

The recent lawsuit, featuring five women accusing Tim Ballard of sexual assault, unfurls a tableau of moral decadence and perversion. It’s a narrative that unearths not only allegations of sexual misconduct but hints at a broader culture steeped in hedonism. Here, we encounter the specter of drug and alcohol abuse intertwined with the unsavory practice of frequenting strip clubs—an assemblage of transgressions that hints at a deep-seated and troubling misconduct.

The irony is palpable when we consider a man who vociferously condemns the world of pornography while simultaneously engaging in questionable behavior. In a glaring contradiction, he seems to find it entirely acceptable to supply women with drugs and solicit lap dances under the dubious pretext of “saving the children.” This stark incongruity within his actions raises significant questions about the integrity of his stance.

It’s noteworthy that this very individual has accused the media of displaying sympathy towards pedophiles by normalizing the industries of prostitution and pornography. However, the same individual’s anti-sex trafficking nonprofit appears to have been funded, rather disconcertingly, by the proceeds of the flesh trade. This contradiction of principles and actions is both perplexing and raises important ethical considerations.

In the realm of public discourse, the contrast between one’s stated beliefs and their actual conduct often serves as a focal point for critical examination and debate.

The women’s claims against Ballard paint a sordid picture. Allegedly, Ballard would brazenly request lap dances and invite them for couples massages. What’s more, the lawsuit asserts that he frequented strip clubs in the Salt Lake Valley, where he indulged in lap dances, alcohol, and pills—all generously funded by O.U.R., a shocking misuse of resources.

Through these manipulative tactics, the suit alleges that Ballard coerced the women into engaging in various sexual acts, stopping just short of penetration. Supposedly, this was done to maintain the illusion of a romantic couple. The suit also contends that Ballard encouraged the women to undergo Brazilian waxing of their pubic area, a request that undoubtedly crossed personal boundaries.

Each time, as the allegations go, Ballard posed a disconcerting question to the women: “Is there anything you wouldn’t do to save a child?” Adding to this, he exploited their faith. Notably, most of the women accusing Ballard are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making this disturbing manipulation even more disquieting.

These allegations provide a sobering view into the depths of Ballard’s behavior, and the abuse of trust and faith in the pursuit of his purported mission.

Lynn Packer first reported in November 2021, that multiple individuals claimed to have seen a video that Gavin Dickson called his “get out of jail free card” replete with a sordid tableau of events that unfolded during a 2019 party at his Bountiful residence. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this narrative is the presence of the Attorney General, Sean Reyes, at the gathering, where the specters of alcohol, cocaine, and strippers cast a lurid pall.

In this clandestine footage, Dickson appears to wield a potential “get out of jail free card,” capturing Reyes in the act of snorting a substantial line of cocaine. The substance, a white powder, traverses an astonishing journey, ascending from the back of a woman’s knee and culminating at her posterior—an image that defies the boundaries of decorum.

Dickson’s audacious conduct extends beyond the mere possession of this damning recording. He seems to have taken pride in flaunting this video to select acquaintances, reportedly showcasing it during gatherings at the Takashi restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City in early 2021. It’s worth noting that these witnesses, two of Dickson’s close friends, have chosen to maintain anonymity, no doubt mindful of the formidable power and influence wielded by Reyes.

One of Dickson’s close friends said you see the Attorney General snort the substance, “from the back of this girl’s knee, all the way to her ass… and this girl has no clothes on”.

History of the Mustang Ranch

The genesis of the brothel harks back to a modest arrangement of four double-wide trailers, presided over initially by Richard Bennett and christened the Mustang Bridge Ranch. However, the transformation into the illustrious Mustang Ranch transpired under the discerning eye of the purported crime boss of Northwestern Nevada, Joe Conforte who assumed the reins in 1967. It’s noteworthy that in this epoch, Nevada’s brothels operated in a gray area of legality, with some shuttered for their alleged public nuisance.

Conforte wielded considerable influence, delving into local politics in Storey County. He leased affordable trailers and subtly influenced the electoral decisions of occupants. Through these maneuvers, he successfully pressured county officials to establish a brothel-licensing ordinance in 1971.

Conforte’s impact reached a national scale when he was featured in Look magazine in 1971 and graced the cover of Rolling Stone in 1972, showcasing the expansion of legal prostitution in Nevada.

Tragedy struck in 1976 when Oscar Bonavena, a renowned pugilist and Conforte’s confederate, met his end at the ranch, a victim of gunfire. In 1977, Conforte faced legal trouble, receiving a twenty-year prison sentence for tax evasion and financial record tampering.

Fleeing the United States in 1980, Conforte sought refuge in Brazil. His legal situation led to cooperation with the Department of Justice in exchange for a reduced sentence. In 1983, he surrendered to U.S. federal authorities and implicated a federal judge.

Ultimately, Conforte regained control of the Mustang Ranch, even as it went through various legal battles and rebranding. The U.S. indicted Joe Conforte on racketeering charges, and was convicted in 1995, in absentia. Efforts to extradite him from Brazil failed. In 1999, Mustang Ranch was seized by the federal government and shuttered once more.

In 2002, the brothel’s accoutrements, paintings, and accessories went under the gavel. The Bureau of Land Management auctioned off the Ranch’s pink stucco structures on eBay in 2003. Bordello proprietor Lance Gilman acquired the buildings for $145,100, relocating them to his Wild Horse Adult Resort & Spa, five miles to the east. The repositioned and extensively refurbished buildings ultimately became the second brothel situated at that complex. However, the rights to the name Mustang Ranch, which Gilman aspired to employ for this new brothel, became entangled in a legal tangle with David Burgess, owner of the Old Bridge Ranch, nephew of Joe Conforte, and manager of the Mustang Ranch from 1979 to 1989. In December 2006, a federal judge adjudged Gilman the “exclusive owner of the Mustang Ranch trademark,” granting him the rights to employ the name and branding.

Prostitution in Nevada

Nevada stands as the sole state in the United States where prostitution maintains legal status, albeit under specific conditions. This legality is confined to licensed brothels and applies to 10 out of the 16 counties within the state, excluding populous areas such as Clark County, home to Las Vegas, and Washoe County, encompassing Reno. Presently, approximately 21 licensed brothels operate across various counties in Nevada.

The legal framework that governs prostitution in Nevada is encapsulated in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 201.354. This statute defines prostitution as the exchange of any sexual activity for a financial fee. The term “sexual activity” encompasses acts such as sexual intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. Notably, even engaging in fondling or caressing intimate body parts with the intent to arouse someone qualifies as prostitution, regardless of whether it occurs over clothing.

Beyond the sanctioned confines of licensed brothels or in counties where both prostitution and solicitation are outlawed, engaging in such activities is generally treated as a misdemeanor offense. However, it is imperative to highlight that these offenses may incur graver consequences, especially if the individual involved is under the age of 18. Solicitation of prostitution, which entails offering or agreeing to engage in prostitution, is subject to similar legal penalties. Notably, solicitation often occurs in various public spaces, including bars, lounges, clubs, massage parlors, and even on the streets.

Resources and Further Reading

Fundraiser today helps rescue children from modern-day slavery (kolotv.com)

Court orders Lance Gilman to pay $190,000 to journalist, attorney after losing defamation lawsuit – Nevada State News

Brothel owner helped seal Nevada’s Tesla deal (rgj.com)

Five women file lawsuit accusing Tim Ballard, OUR’s founder, of sexual assault (sltrib.com)

Utah’s Attorney General and the Stripper/Cocaine Allegation – American Crime Journal |

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