Only Brothel License In Churchill County Surrendered

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A man has surrendered Churchill County's only active brothel license without a fight, averting a revocation hearing by the county.

James Kopulos, who owned Salt Wells Villa 15 miles east of Fallon since 1996, took the action Wednesday, a day before county commissioners were set to hold the hearing on it.

"It is appropriate that the brothel license granted to him in the past be revoked unconditionally," Deputy District Attorney Rusty Jardine told commissioners. "We believe this matter can be properly closed at this time."

The board voted 3-0 to formally revoke Kopulos' license.

The district attorney's office had sought to revoke the license after a string of violations at the brothel that dated back to its opening.

Kopulos hired prostitutes as independent contractors when the county's brothel ordinance called for them to be paid as business employees, prosecutors said.

He also made prostitutes pay for weekly medical examinations when the county ordinance called for the licensee to cover the cost.

Kopulos cited the independent contractor issue as one of the main reasons he relinquished his license.

"It just seemed kind of useless to go on with it because of the independent contractor thing. I just gave up on it," he told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper.

Prosecutors said Kopulos is broke and had essentially turned over the license to his manager, another violation of the ordinance.

Kopulos filed for bankruptcy in January after foreclosure proceedings began on his business. He also owes the county $1,556 in delinquent property taxes.

Salt Wells was shut down in October for health violations, including a lack of potable water in the bar, structural defects and inadequate fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

It had only been reopened a week when county officials ordered an emergency closure last month after finding it abandoned and unlocked.

Former Salt Wells prostitute Maggie Holmes said she was pleased Kopulos will no longer operate a brothel. She has been fighting to get money she claims she's owed for medical exams.

"If you can't play by the rules, you're not allowed to play," she said. "All I ever wanted was for someone to run it legally. He had chance after chance so closure was the only option."

If county resident Elizabeth Earl gets her way, there will never be another brothel license issued in the county.

She's working to get a referendum on the November ballot asking county voters to ban brothels. Currently, two brothels are permitted after owners pass background and financial checks.