Birds save "Hollywood Madam" from pot bust

Birds save

Police did not arrest Heidi Fleiss after finding the pot plants because she is caring for expensive exotic birds.

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by CBS News

WVEC.com

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 10:38 AM

(CNN) -- Once known as the “Hollywood Madam,” Heidi Fleiss in recent years has become known as a fan of exotic birds.

That interest, parlayed into a 2011 Animal Planet reality show, “Heidi Fleiss: Prostitutes to Parrots,” apparently helped spare Fleiss from handcuffs after authorities said they found nearly 400 marijuana plants growing at her residence in Pahrump, Nevada.

A deputy did not arrest Fleiss because she had exotic birds valued at more than $200,000, Nye County Sheriff Anthony De Meo told CNN on Tuesday.

“We don’t have facilities for exotic birds, and they are pretty rare and very expensive,” the sheriff said.

Authorities said they sent their report to the district attorney for charges to be filed.

A deputy went to the home on August 7 to look for another woman wanted on an arrest warrant. The officer, finding the front door open and no one responding, went to the rear of the main residence and spied some of the plants, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

Officers encountered Fleiss, who allegedly gave them consent to search another area.

She told detectives she was growing the plants to sell to a cooperative in Las Vegas, about 55 miles to the east, authorities said.

“Ms. Fleiss could not produce the necessary documentation to support this. Later she admitted, in a roundabout way, that she was going to get a license because she did not have one,” the statement said.

Another factor in not arresting Fleiss was her consent to a search without a warrant and the fact that she was cooperative, the department said.

A total of 392 suspected marijuana plants were counted, authorities said.

Fleiss grabbed headlines in the 1990s after she was arrested in connection with a high-priced prostitution ring serving Tinseltown’s rich and famous.

CNN was unable Tuesday to find a phone listing for the residence. There was no answer at what is believed to be Fleiss’ mobile number. CNN also left a message with a publicist known to represent her in 2011.

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