The 90-day suspension of a Warren massage parlor where health inspectors caught a scantily-clad employee helping a naked customer shower was upheld after a brief the business was allowed to stay open until a formal hearing was held.
The Sunny Spa, at 442, E. Market St., was officially closed for 90 days after its second health code violation since December. The spa was allowed to reopen for several days after spa attorney Harry DePietro argued the spa should have a quicker hearing than waiting until the Health Department’s next meeting on April 24.
The spa never reopened because its only licensed masseuse, Min Hoppy, who was the employee caught by Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Pinti during a March 21 surprise inspection, has refused to return to work. The health board upheld the suspension.
DePietro said he will appeal the decision within 10 days. The mayor will appoint a three-person panel to hear the appeal, DePietro said.
The spa was originally ordered closed April 1.
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.
Sunny Spa’s owner, UnSuk Cho, was given the violation notice March 22.
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 the name Rose Spa, was raided again last week and shuttered by police under a nuisance-abatement claim filed in common pleas court. The nuisance-abatement hearing is scheduled for Friday.
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.