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Wednesday, September 9, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sally Conforte, 75, Of Mustang Ranch

AP

RENO, Nev. - Sally Conforte, who quietly ran the Mustang Ranch legal brothel while her husband, Joe, grabbed the headlines, has died after a long battle with diabetes. She was 75.

"Joe used to say she was the brains behind the thing," said Storey County Commissioner Shirley Colletti, who had known Mrs. Conforte for 30 years.

Mrs. Conforte retired from the brothel business two years ago after the Internal Revenue Service took over the Mustang Ranch for back taxes.

Mrs. Conforte had suffered from diabetes for some time and had been in and out of hospitals since leaving the Mustang.

She began in the brothel business in 1955 with a house in Fallon and later opened another in Wadsworth. Joe Conforte, 10 years her junior, opened a house in Wadsworth in the late 1950s and they became partners in 1956.

They were married in the early 1960s and took over the Mustang Ranch in Storey County in 1967.

Mrs. Conforte briefly emerged from her husband's shadow in 1976 when, at the age of 59, she became manager of heavyweight boxer Oscar Bonavena, 33. She financed Bonavena's gambling from the Mustang till and began spending most of her time with him.

Her attraction to the boxer, who boasted he was going to take over the brothel, led to a bitter feud between Bonavena and Joe Conforte. In May 1976, Bonavena was shot and killed outside the Mustang gate by Conforte bodyguard Willard Ross Brymer.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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