Talk about risky business.
Just over a year since 19 people were arrested for their connection to prostitution and illegal massage parlors across Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced on Thursday, December 4 the arrests of 15 employees and managers of nine additional massage parlors in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and, now, Bensonhurst.
“We conducted these raids and made these arrests because the good people of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst are sick and tired of these dens of prostitution, masquerading as legitimate businesses, popping up in our communities,” said Thompson.
Nine defendants, he said, were charged in criminal complaints with misdemeanor prostitution, while two were charged with promoting prostitution and 10 were variously charged with providing unlicensed massage services, a felony.
The DA’s Human Trafficking Unit began investigating the storefronts in January following resident complaints made to Community Boards 10 and 11, as well as the offices of local politicians like Councilmember Vincent Gentile, State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis – three local lawmakers who have worked hard to rid their nabes of risqué businesses.
“This is a big victory,” lauded Gentile. “Today we are sending a very strong and simple message: we will not stand for illegal activities at illegitimate or unlicensed massage parlors. These establishments are an embarrassment to and a scourge on our community.”
“It should be clear to the proprietors of these establishments that the heat is on and the community has had enough, and we will continue to report suspicious and illegal activities,” agreed Malliotakis who, in August of 2013, stood with Golden to introduce new legislation aimed to expedite the closure of unlicensed day spas. “I’m thankful that our community has been diligent, and hopeful that the young women forced into this trade can get out and build better and safer lives.”
“I commend District Attorney Ken Thompson for continuing his efforts to police the massage parlors throughout our community,” said Golden. “My office has provided locations to be investigated based on complaints received from the community, and I look forward to our continued relationship to ensure a better quality of life and rid our streets of these establishments.”
Fenny Beauty (6701 11th Avenue), Happy Beauty/Lyn Spa (7110 20th Avenue), On Hung Beauty Center (7303 18th Avenue) and Ocean Beauty Spa (7312 18th Avenue) were shut down by the District Attorney’s office while Yan Yan Spa (7901B 17th Avenue), Josomodo Spa “Happy” (7401 New Utrecht Avenue), Yisn Jing Spa (7422 New Utrecht Avenue), A1 Bodywork (6920A 13th Avenue) and Kabuki/E&B Spa (8015 17th Avenue) were shut down by the NYPD. Also, Xiao-Ling Pan was charged with promoting prostitution in the fourth degree (a misdemeanor) and Sun Han, in the third degree (a felony).
The 13th and 11th Avenue locations have been thorns in the side of residents, said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, who said the board had received numerous complaints about them, and had forwarded the information to the DA’s office. “We are really happy that they were investigated and addressed,” she said.
In addition, Thompson said, the arrestees were screened by NYPD vice enforcement and victims services counselors for indications of human trafficking, and will be evaluated for possible placement in programs.