The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, Nov. 09, 2011
RENO, Nev. — A retired IRS agent who once investigated a fugitive Nevada brothel boss and was partners in a failed rural Nevada bordello venture pleaded guilty Wednesday to transporting a California woman across state lines to commit prostitution.
Kemp Shiffer, 58, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben.
Under a plea agreement, the U.S. attorney’s office agreed to drop a second criminal count. Shiffer faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced Feb. 14. He is free on personal recognizance until his sentencing.
Shiffer also agreed to forfeit a 2006 Mercedes Benz, an iPhone, a computer and cameras, according to the plea document.
“Prostitution may be lawful in most Nevada counties, but it is unlawful under federal law to transport persons across state lines for the purpose of prostitution,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a statement.
Shiffer was arrested in August by a regional law enforcement team in Reno investigating online escort advertisements. A federal grand jury indicted him the following month.
According to a plea memorandum, Shiffer transported a woman identified only as “C.M.” from California to Nevada with the intent she would work for him as a prostitute.
The document said Shiffer “was the organizer, leader, manager and supervisor of this criminal activity,” and that another person, identified as “E.H.,” helped “recruit and transport C.M.” from California to Nevada “for the purpose of prostitution.”
Court documents did not provide further information on E.H., and it was not immediately known if that person also faced charges.
Shiffer had been a veteran agent assigned to the IRS criminal division where he had been the lead investigator into fugitive brothel owner Joe Conforte. His investigation led to indictments being issued against Conforte – which caused him to flee to Brazil – and the closing of the infamous Mustang Ranch. The brothel has since moved and re-opened under new management.
In 2006, Shiffer was one of three financial backers for a proposed brothel in Churchill County called Nevada Petticoat Junction. Other backers were Shiffer’s lawyer, David Houston, and John Kirsch. Houston represents Shiffer in the federal criminal case and appeared with him in court Wednesday.
The Petticoat Junction project envisioned a 20,000-square-foot brothel, with 20 bedrooms and four VIP suites, off a highway about 10 miles west of Fallon. But it failed to get off the ground when Churchill County commissioners denied their request for a special permit to construct and operate the brothel.