United Airlines pilot who has been charged with running a network of brothels in the Houston area made a brief appearance in court on Monday.
Bruce Wayne Wallis, 51, did not speak to reporters in his first court appearance since his arrest last week on charges that can bring up to 20 years in prison.
His lawyer said the case against his client was overblown, TV station KHOU reported.
"This may be the newest prosecution of the world's oldest profession, but this is hardly the case of the century that the state makes it out to be," Dan Cogdell, Wallis' attorney, told reporters at the courthouse in a video posted on the KHOU website.
Harris County prosecutor Lester Blizzard told reporters at the court that Wallis was running a massive brothel ring.
Wallis and an accomplice were indicted on suspicion of charging women about $400 a week to work in about a half-dozen properties that included apartments and office buildings, prosecutors said. There were about six to 10 women working in each location, they said.
"We hold our employees to the highest standards and are assisting the authorities in this matter," United Airlines spokesman Charles Hobart said in a statement. "We have removed Mr. Wallis from his flying duties."