The suspension for a Warren massage parlor where health inspectors found an employee helping a naked customer shower has been rescinded until the spa has an opportunity to defend itself at a public hearing.
The Sunny Spa, at 442 E. Market St., is allowed to reopen after city prosecutor Traci Timko Rose and spa attorney Harry DePietro agreed the spa should have been allowed to stay open until they were given a chance to challenge the violation.
The spa is allowed to stay open until a hearing Monday at the city health department. DePietro said he was unsure if the spa would open for business in the meantime.
The spa was ordered closed April 1 for 90 days after Warren Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Pinti found an employee, Min Hoppy, helping a naked customer shower during a surprise health inspection March 21. Officials said Hoppy was wearing a bikini at the time.
Pinti cited the spa because a customer’s genitals were exposed at the spa. DePietro told WKBN.COM he intends to argue that customer’s genitals were exposed during a shower, and not during the massage, which he said does not violate health code.
“Both parties decided a public hearing should be held,” DePietro said.
Health department meetings occur on the last Wednesday of each month. Sunny Spa’s owner, UnSuk Cho, was given the violation notice March 22. DePietro wasn’t retained until the next week and, once he filed a notice of appeal, had only six hours to prepare for the hearing.
“Out of fairness we thought the suspension should be rescinded out of fairness,” Rose said.
DePietro has also filed a temporary injunction against the spas closing. He said he was unsure what affect the hearing would have on the injunction hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
The violation was the spa’s second since Jan. 7, when inspectors found an unlicensed masseuse giving massages.
Investigators with the state’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation raided eight of the city’s 10 massage parlors in May and the city later shuttered all eight.
Records show spa customers from as far away as Shelby, a 120-mile trip, told investigators they paid for sex and sex acts at all eight spas raided.
BCI and the state attorney general’s office is currently reviewing evidence gathered from the spas, including computers, legers and DNA, to see if charges can be filed, including human trafficking, racketeering and money laundering, among others, according to court records and investigators.
About a month later, Braceville police raided the Four Seasons Spa, catching a customer and employee engaged in sex acts. The spa, opened by new owners under a new name, was raided again Thursday and shuttered by police under a nuisance-abatement claim filed in common pleas court.
Sunny is one of three spas remaining in Trumbull County. Officials have said the other two— the Tiger Spa in Warren and Niles’ Susi Kims— are being watched by officials. No charges have been filed against them.
Investigators at the time said the Tiger Spa was not targeted in the May raids because they were closed for renovations at the time. Officials said they have since re-opened, and an advertisement in the Cleveland Scene magazine appeared in the March 20 edition touting a grand opening.
Investigators said Sunny Spa was targeted in the investigation but were unable to establish surveillance as they had at the other eight spas.