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Former 'Hollywood Madam' Heidi Fleiss accused of growing marijuana

Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss poses for photographers at the Australian Stock Exchange in Melbourne May 1, 2003 after the brothel known as 'T
Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss poses for photographers at the Australian Stock Exchange in Melbourne May 1, 2003 after the brothel known as 'T

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) - Heidi Fleiss, nicknamed the "Hollywood Madam" in the 1990s after she was accused of running a high-priced Southern California call-girl ring, may face charges after 392 pot plants were found at her Nevada desert home, a county sheriff said on Tuesday.

Deputies who went to Fleiss' home in Pahrump, some 45 miles west of Las Vegas, last week searching for a wanted female found the marijuana plants, Nye County Sheriff Tony De Meo said.

Fleiss, 47, told detectives she was growing cannabis so she could sell it to a Las Vegas cooperative, but admitted that she did not have a license to do so, according to a news release issued by the Nye County Sheriff's Office.

Also found at her home were grow lights and several bottles of chemicals used to cultivate marijuana, the sheriff's office said. The plants were collected as evidence and the equipment destroyed.

Fleiss was not arrested because she was caring for exotic birds worth $200,000 and because she was cooperative throughout the investigation, De Meo said, but his office had turned the case over to prosecutors for potential filing of marijuana possession charges.

A spokeswoman for the Nye County District Attorney's Office said no charges had been filed against Fleiss as of Tuesday afternoon.

The sheriff's office did not identify the person they were seeking at Fleiss' home at the time of the search but said they had gone there looking for her before.

Fleiss, the daughter of a prominent Los Angeles doctor, became a media sensation following her 1993 arrest in Los Angeles on suspicion of running a prostitution business that catered to Hollywood celebrities and the wealthy.

After two trials that made worldwide headlines, she was ultimately convicted on federal tax evasion charges in connection with the prostitution ring and served nearly two years in prison.

Fleiss never revealed the names of her clients, but actor Charlie Sheen acknowledged in videotaped trial testimony that he paid thousands of dollars for the services of her prostitutes.

In 2008, Fleiss was the subject of a documentary chronicling her attempts to set up a legal brothel near Pahrump catering to women which also featured her menagerie of exotic birds.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)

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