FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks police have arrested five local masseuses suspected of trading sexual favors for cash. The arrests on Friday followed a weeks-long prostitution investigation.
The masseuses include 48-year-old Min Hee Hwang and 46-year-old Pyong S. Lee from Jade’s Therapeutic Massage; 54-year-old Kyong Y. Na from Spa Asia; and 44-year-old Yaming Wu from April’s massage. Each has been charged with second-degree sexual assault, a felony, and prostitution, a misdemeanor.
Hwang, Na and Wu also have been charged with operating as a masseuse without a license. Their bails have been set at $8,000. Lee’s bail was set at $7,500. Authorities have not identified the fifth suspect.
Magistrate Nikole Shick refused to lower bail amounts for two of the women Monday, calling them flight risks with few connections to the community.
Fairbanks police said they have received about a dozen mostly anonymous tips about the massage parlors since fall 2009 when they opened.
Authorities decided to initiate a sting operation earlier this year, Investigator Jim Gibson said.
Last month, undercover officers made eight contacts with the five women. In each case, the masseuse would offer a sexual favor within about 10 minutes of beginning the massage, Gibson said.
“Every time, not just the offer was made for sex, but they also groped the officer without his consent,” he said.
The women reportedly offered sexual favors for between $40 and $140, according to charging documents.
No one answered the phones Monday at the three massage parlors.
The women lack Alaska identification cards but seem to be in the United States legally, Gibson said. The three businesses did not appear to work together, he said.
When police arrested the women Friday, they also seized large amounts of cash, credit card receipts and massage tables.
other places affected: Yes