Florence Council Votes to Shut Down Massage Parlor Amid Prostitution Claims
Florence City Council voted to revoke the occupational license of A+Acu, a spa/massage business located at 8459 U.S. 42 in a shopping center at the corner of Weaver Road. City Attorney Hugh O. Skees conducted a hearing where he presented evidence that people at the business violated Florence Code section 110.08 (A) (5) (6), and because of this evidence council voted to revoke the license.
No one from MOOL, Inc., operator of the business, was present.
The investigation began in December of last year as the result of tips and complaints coming into the police department's website alleging that there was prostitution and possible drug activity going on in the business. The Drug Unit from the Florence Police Department staged a sting operation with undercover police. One agent went to the business and asked and received a basic massage. The second time he went, he knocked on the back door with information to that effect, and was escorted in by a female who eventually indicated that for more money he could get more than a massage.
Armed with a listening device and an undercover camera, the undercover agent snapped a picture of the female. Another agent went to the back door on another occasion and was escorted in and similarly propositioned by another female whose picture was also taken, according to the city.
The third time the undercover agent went in, he was solicited again, and when he told the female he didn't have enough money, the female told him he should have stayed home and escorted him out by his neck.
A search warrant was acquired and the business was searched and three females were brought to the city building for questioning. Two males were in the business at the time and quickly left. The three females were subsequently charged with prostitution, and a total of $3,300 was found between the business, the apartment where two of the females were staying on Tamarack Circle, and the silver SUV with Michigan plates that was parked behind the business. Even though the females were questioned, no clues as to the owners of the business were found.
"There is not any doubt it is prostitution," said Skees, to sum up the proceedings."However, we are dealing with the tip of the iceberg. We don't have international or national jurisdiction to grab one of the owners. So we can just do what we can."
Five members of council were present--Mel Carroll was not present. With respect to the charges filed against Pok Sun Hamilton, Jung Hi Sin, and Pun Suk Ray, all of MOOL, Inc., the five council members voted to revoke the license.
The hearing was held after a caucus meeting where Firefighter/Paramedic Matthew Stickley took the oath of office and became part of the Florence Fire Department. Stickley came from New Richmond. He had also just become the father of a baby girl last weekend.
Council discussed the request of NRG eVgo for a change in the approved concept development plan for property located at 7625 Doering Drive to allow two electric vehicle charging stations. Council member Dr Julie Metzger-Aubuchon said it was recommended to accept the request and make the change. The charging stations are said to resemble a vending machine or a gas pump, and each has four units.
Council also discussed a request from Ravi Narsinghani, Seva, for a Zoning Map amendment changing the zoning from C-2/PD/HDO to O-2PD/HDO for a 3.0236 acre site located at 5885 and 5915 Merchants Street to allow a hotel and uses permitted by the concept development plan. The hotel will be a four story Comfort Suites, and the 84 units planned are 30 percent larger than normal hotel rooms. The rates are seasonal, and range from $109 to $139. Both requests will be on the agenda for the meeting next Tuesday.