The former manager of local strip clubs has pleaded guilty to felony charges of contacting a minor for a lewd act, possession of steroids for sale, and possession of child pornography.
But an attorney for Ward “Ryan” Welty — formerly associated with Tropical Lei in Upland and the Flesh Club in San Bernardino — maintains Welty is innocent of the charges despite his Friday guilty pleas in West Valley Superior Court.
“He’s not guilty of the charges in California,” said Roger Diamond, Welty’s attorney.
When asked why Welty pleaded guilty, Diamond responded: “That requires a legal analysis and strategic explanation that I’m not going to give to you.”
Reached by phone Tuesday and asked about his reasons for pleading guilty, Welty said, “None of your business. Good day.” He then disconnected the call.
Welty, a 36-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident, was arrested in Colorado in June after traveling there to allegedly meet a woman who was interested in involving her 9-year-old daughter in sex.
The woman Welty communicated with online and through phone conversations was an undercover police detective from rural Caon City, Colo., located about 100 miles south of Denver.
San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies served search warrants on Welty’s Rancho Cucamonga apartment, Tropical Lei and other locations after learning of his arrest in Colorado.
In Welty’s apartment, deputies found more than $60,000 in steroids they allege he was selling.
They also found three child-pornography images when they searched three seized computers.
It appears Welty’s plea may be part of a legal strategy to avoid prosecution in Colorado, where he is charged with five felonies and potentially faces a life prison sentence.
Welty is due back in court March 6 in Caon City, where Diamond said he will move to dismiss the Colorado case “on the grounds that (Welty) has been convicted in California for the same crime that he is accused of committing in Colorado.”
The prosecutor in Welty’s Colorado case did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
Welty is scheduled to be sentenced for his recent convictions in San Bernardino County on March 20. He faces a prison term of up to five years and four months.
Welty’s father, Waldon Randall Welty, is the owner of Manta Management, the parent company of the Flesh Club, Tropical Lei, and the Hawaii Theatre in the City of Industry.
The Flesh Club was closed by court order in 2007 after more than a decade of battling attorneys for the city of San Bernardino, who claimed the club was a house of prostitution.
In news reports of the club’s battles with the city, Ryan Welty was identified alternately as the owner or the manager of the club.
On Tuesday, Diamond said Welty had no role in Manta Management and said prior descriptions of Welty’s role in the company were inaccurate.
Diamond declined to say what role if any Welty has had in the company.