New documents reveal new information on massage business police raids
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -New details on an investigation into several massage businesses in St. Joseph County.
We do warn that some of these details could be disturbing for some.
Police recovered more than $88,000 back on June 20th after raiding the businesses under suspicion of human trafficking, prostitution, and tax fraud.
New documents outline how undercover officers gathered information and how the health department stepped in to close the businesses for now.
Investigators found signs that the businesses were offering more than just massages after looking through their trash.
The county health department shut down all four locations a little over a week ago for violations, and this wasn’t the first time this has happened at one of them.
You’ll find a similar note to this one on the front door of all four massage businesses in St. Joseph County that police raided in June 2022.
The St. Joseph County Health Department ordered them to shut down after discovering at least one employee at all locations didn’t have a permit to perform massages.
The businesses on Hickory Road and State Road 933 were also cited for having a massage room with a lock on the door, while the ones on State Road 23 and South Michigan Street violated a requirement to have a bin for soiled linens.
This is the second time the Health Department had to close down the Granger location on S.R. 23.
“They had had a massage therapist there previously that was unpermitted and the only one in the establishment at the time. So they had been closed and had their $500 fine for a first offense back in November of 2021,” said SJC DOH Environmental Health Specialist Jeff Murawski.
The man police say owns and is associated with all four businesses is listed on the two abatement orders that have yet to have their fines paid, a total of $1,500.
Investigators found pairs of women’s underwear, DVDs on how to perform oral sex, and receipts from Flushing, New York while searching through garbage for clues throughout the past year and a half.
The receipts gave investigators reason to suspect the business owner was driving employees to Flushing, NY so they could send money back to China.
The underwear and DVDs added to first-hand knowledge from undercover officers revealed in a probable cause affidavit that these businesses were offering sexual services for money.
Undercover investigators were offered these services on multiple occasions starting on Dec. 1st of 2021, and then again on March 10th, 2022. Most recently, it happened on June 6th, 2022.
They also found out, while working with the Indiana Department of Revenue, that none of these businesses were paying sales tax.
Even with all this information, the spokesperson for the St. Joseph County Police Department told me that no arrests have been made yet and no charges have been filed. He says the investigation is still ongoing and could continue for the next couple of months. Their detectives and folks from the Department of Revenue are going through thousands of pages of financial records they seized two weeks ago. They’re also working to interview any more witnesses or victims that come forward.
Because there have yet to be any arrests or charges, we’re choosing not to reveal the name of the business owner at this time.
However, roughly two-thirds of the cash police confiscated during the raids came from the 933 location and the business owner’s residence.
We’ll continue to follow this investigation closely as more work continues.
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