Sheriff, undersheriff won't discuss Las Vegas detainment at brothel | May 2, 2007 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - May 2, 2007

Sheriff, undersheriff won't discuss Las Vegas detainment at brothel

• Deputies back top cops; report on Vegas spending due this week.

by Rory Brown

Just about everyone has something to say regarding what San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks and Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos were doing in a Las Vegas brothel that was raided by police.

Everyone, that is, except for the two officers themselves.

Mr. Munks and Mr. Bolanos were detained and questioned by Las Vegas police on April 21, when they were found on the premises of a brothel, spurring a media frenzy about the county's two top officers.

The brothel was operating out of an unmarked house located in a residential neighborhood, about three miles off the main strip of hotels and casinos, said Martin Wright, a public information officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

"We interviewed [Mr. Munks and Mr. Bolanos], and they were forthright and honest about who they were and what they were there to do," Mr. Wright said.

Sheriff Munks and Undersheriff Bolanos have said — through brief statements — they thought the building was home to a massage parlor, but Mr. Wright would not disclose if that's what the officers said when detained.

Mr. Munks issued a statement on April 24 in which he apologized for the "undue attention and embarrassment" brought about by the incident, but said he "believed [he] was going into a legitimate business."

Mr. Bolanos told KLAS-TV, a Las Vegas television station, that Mr. Munks was sore after a law enforcement run he took part in earlier that day, and the two officers told a limo driver to take them to a massage parlor.

Both officers denied interview requests by the Almanac, and have declined to further discuss the incident publicly, prompting some members of the public to call for more information about their detainment.

During the raid, which resulted in the arrest of seven people, but no customers, officers found 3,500 tabs of ecstasy and $20,000 in cash. There is an ongoing investigation to determine whether the prostitutes at the brothel were working as sex slaves, Mr. Wright said.

Mr. Wright said there are no plans to file charges against the officers. He said the raid was one of several brothel busts orchestrated by local law enforcement and the FBI to catch major players in the local prostitution ring — an effort labeled "Operation Dollhouse."

He noted prostitution is illegal in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas.

Deputies' support

Although questions still remain about the officers' Las Vegas trip, the San Mateo County Deputy Sheriff's Association has issued a statement in support of the two top cops.

"While the Deputy Sheriff's Association certainly does not always agree with Sheriff Munks and Undersheriff Bolanos' decisions, we have found both to be proven and effective leaders," says the statement, signed by the association's executive board members. "We remain confident in their abilities and leadership and we look forward to moving past this incident."

Spending report

County Manager John Maltbie has requested that the county controller's office examine any expenses related to the officers' Las Vegas trip.

Deputy Controller Kancahn Charan said an expense report could be released as early as Friday, May 4.

County Supervisor Rich Gordon said he's looking forward to the results of the controller's audit, but said he's not seeking more details about the officers' detainment at this time.

He said he's received about 15 e-mails from residents about the issue, and all of them have been "very negative" regarding Sheriff Munks.

Mr. Munks, a resident of Portola Valley, was elected without opposition last June and took office in January.


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