City shuts down massage parlor for prostitution charges

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 1, 2012

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Although the move was largely symbolic, as the business’s license had expired, the council revoked the massage facility license of Recovery Spa, on Maple, after police said prostitution occurred there.

Before the council at its Jan. 23 meeting was the revocation of the business license in a due process hearing and a decision on whether police acted in an arbitrary and/or capricious manner in closing down the business in December.

The council unanimously revoked the license, which had expired Dec. 31. Ok Suk An, 56, the owner of the facility, has since submitted an application for a new massage facility license Jan. 23. Criminal proceedings against two employees of the spa are pending.

An is charged with allowing illegal acts on the premises, which carries up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her trial was set for Jan. 30.

Troy Police Capt. Keith Frye told the council that police received a tip Oct. 24, 2011, that the spa at Maple and John R, which opened last fall, “was not a regular spa,” and there was a lot of van and truck traffic in and out of the facility.

Frye said police had stopped customers after they left the facility, and the customers said sexual acts were occurring on the premises in exchange for money. He said undercover officers were offered sexual favors as part of a massage.

Police executed a search warrant at the spa Nov. 14, 2011, and reportedly found numerous violations.

An’s attorney, J. Kim Welch, spoke at the due process hearing and said that An has never been in trouble with the law and is a skilled massage therapist.

He said she had no knowledge of any unlawful activity occurring at her business, and she believes no such activity happened there.

“The tip was unclear and not corroborated,” Welch said. “The police want to close it down. There is no evidence of criminal acts.”

He said there is bias against An, a Korean business owner, and added that his client will pursue a civil lawsuit. “She wants to live the American dream. It’s obvious what’s going on — an Asian with a massage parlor, there’s a stigma with that. The charges are made up.”

He noted that the customers police spoke to were not arrested. “You’re picking on minority women and not the white males. … The police overreacted, and prosecutors overreacted.” He asked the council to allow the business to stay open pending the criminal trials.

Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm said the council does not have authority to grant An a license to operate at this time.

She said the charge that the investigation was racially motivated was untrue.

“It was based on information received and corroborated,” she said. She said that in order to prosecute charges of prostitution, common practice is that one party involved testifies against the party that is charged. “You can’t charge both. You need the testimony of one. The biggest concern was to remove prostitution from the city.”

“It doesn’t appear that the actions taken by the police were arbitrary or capricious, based on information presented by the police and attorneys,” Mayor Pro Tem Maureen McGinnis said.

Bluhm said that any criminal convictions against An would be considered with regard to
processing a new license for a massage therapy facility.
 

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