JOSEPH CONFORTE

 
He had tried to extort the Washoe County District attorney after he learned the man couldn’t be corrupted. He’d evaded taxes. He’d coerced teenage girls to do his bidding against their wishes and he had trafficked women, too. He corrupted politicians, judges, cops, and district attorneys, and was suspected of conspiracy to murder, narcotics trafficking, voter fraud, fencing stolen goods, and the list goes on. He was a one-man crime wave and had done time in state and federal prisons, and he just wouldn’t go away.


Sure, a few eggs had to be broken to create his omelet of success, but is he a bad person? Or because he had business dealings with and did favors for underworld crime figures, does that make him Mafia? To Joe, the answer is No to both questions.


“I know them all, all those Mafias, but I’m not one of them,” Joe said. “I’m just a businessman like anybody else.”


He fronted for legal prostitution and got mud in the eye. He was charitable to his community and all anybody says is that he was a tax-evading pimp. He trusted people and they turned on him, even his wife, Sally. In many ways Joe’s story is a hard luck one, but does anybody care how he feels? “The people that f—ed me, they’re gonna get their medicine when the time comes,” Joe said.


In October 1975, he was to turn age fifty soon, but felt ten years younger thanks to the reinstatement of his civil rights. He’d been given the title “kingmaker” in the political arena by news agencies/reporters. His new brothel in Storey County, a monument to his success to be called Mustang Ranch, was scheduled to open in a couple of months. He had many accomplishments to be proud of, and yet. . . .