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Former United Airlines pilot appears in court in brothel charges

Bruce Wallis, the United pilot accused of running a massive prostitution ring in the Houston area for about a year, was back in court Monday. 

Wallis and co-defendant, Tracie Tanner, did not face a judge but their attorney and Harris County prosecutors were able to lay out their cases and begin the lengthy process of getting through a lot of evidence.

Wallis faces up to 20 years in prison.

His attorney tells Channel 2 that this case is not as serious as it's being portrayed.

"This may be the newest prosecution of the world's oldest profession but it is hardly the case of the century the state makes it out to be. The older I get, the more important I think it is to under promise and over deliver and that's what I intend to do in this case," said Dan Cogdell, Wallis' attorney.

Tanner faces up to 10 years behind bars.

The Harris County assistant district attorney called it the largest operation of this type he's ever seen.

Wallis and Tanner allegedly ran a half dozen brothels, with about 6 to 10 women.  Each woman paid Wallis $400 a week.

Eighteen other women were charged with prostitution.

Tanner's attorney says she is terrified in this situation.

"She's in a very scary place right now. And I'm here to protect her and I will not let this man or anyone else hurt her again," says Tanner's attorney, Mark Metzger.

Harris County Assistant D.A. Lester Blizzard says this crack-down sends a clear message to the bad guys.

"Our elected officials taking out the entire criminal organization and not being satisfied with just the  low hanging fruit," Blizzard said.

Wallis faces aggravated promotion of prostitution and engaging in criminal activity.

Tanner faces aggravated promotion of prostitution.

Both are due back in court on May 4.