Seems like the Brooklyn DA and NYPD were the last to know about the “service” going on at Henry Street’s Blue Diamond Health Center. Just the mere mention of any massage place opening up in Brooklyn Heights has always been enough to get BHB readers going like here and here. Not to mention that Blue Diamond is listed on a (NSFW) site called RUB MAPS – jeez guys you’d think there was an election errr sumthin’ this week:
NY Post: The nondescript Blue Diamond Health Center on leafy Henry Street — just doors from the popular and family friendly Tazza coffee shop — had allegedly been doling out sex acts on the sly since at least 2009. Its owners were busted by investigators for the Brooklyn DA’s Office on Saturday.
The business was dismantled in a weekend-long crackdown by the DA that shuttered five alleged “rub-and-tug” joints in the borough.
The ground-floor storefront landed on authorities’ radar after owner Yun Feng Zhang, 30, allegedly beat up a worker at his other Greenpoint parlor when she refused to give in to a customer’s kinky demands, a source said.
“He tells her the customer is God and punches her multiple times,” the source said.
Here’s the official presser for those of you who are into such things:
KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF SECOND PHASE OF INVESTIGATION INTO PROSTITUTION RINGS RUN OUT OF MASSAGE PARLORS IN BAY RIDGE, DYKER HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN HEIGHTS AND GREENPOINT
FIVE “SPA” LOCATIONS SHUT DOWN; SIX INDICTED – INCLUDING TWO CHARGED WITH SEX TRAFFICKING—SIX OTHERS ARRRESTED ON PROSTITUTION RELATED CHARGES.
Brooklyn, September 9, 2013 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the conclusion of the second phase of an ongoing investigation into prostitution and sex trafficking rings being run out of local “spas”. The first phase was announced on July 11, 2013 and resulted in the arrest of 19 people in connection with the operation of twelve unrelated so-called spas and massage parlors in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
Today, District Attorney Hynes announced the results of the second phase. In total, five “spa” locations were shut down; six individuals were indicted for running two separate prostitution rings, one of which was involved in sex trafficking and six others were arrested on charges involving prostitution.
“My Human Trafficking Bureau will continue our efforts to eliminate Sex Trafficking, Promoting Prostitution, as well as all the crimes that flow from these activities,” said District Attorney Hynes. “I hope that these arrests will send a message not only to the communities of Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Heights and Greenpoint, but throughout Brooklyn, that my office shares their concerns regarding these so-called “massage parlors” and we will not tolerate illicit operations that exploit women and adversely affect neighborhoods.”
The first indictment charges four defendants with Sex Trafficking and related charges. According to the indictment, defendants Yun Feng Zhang, Yan Liu, Boxuan Zhang, and Zhan Wei Liu ran the Zhang/Liu prostitution ring, with locations at 307 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights and 223 Calyer Street in Greenpoint, and are facing 25 years in prison if convicted on the top count of Sex Trafficking. During the execution of a search warrant September 7, at 223 Calyer Street, Zhang Yan, was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession and Prostitution.
The second indictment charges two defendants with Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree and related charges. According to the indictment, defendants Nataliya Drevetska and Sergey Talko ran the Drevetska/Talko prostitution ring from 1275-77 70TH Street in Bay Ridge and 8017 New Utrecht Avenue in Dyker Heights, and face seven years in prison if convicted of the top count.
During search warrants executed at both locations on September 8, Yuliya Doherty was arrested at 1275-77 70TH Street, and charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession. Anastasi Karvova was arrested at Utrecht Avenue, and charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession and Prostitution.
In addition three people were arrested this past Friday during the execution of a search warrant at 31 Bay Ridge Avenue, another allegedly bogus “Day Spa” or “Massage Therapy” business, hiding an alleged prostitution operation. This location has been the source of repeated complaints and petitions in the community.
The three defendants arrested at 31 Bay Ridge Ave. are Seol-Hwa Park Meizi Huang, and Fu Lan Quan, who is the owner. All three were charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession. Defendants Park and Huang were also charged with Prostitution.
State Senator Marty Golden said, “As soon as Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and I received the most recent petition from residents and neighbors, we immediately contacted Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, who has been doing incredible work to rid communities throughout Brooklyn of these operations. Today, we have taken great strides in keeping our neighborhood strong and a great place to live, work and raise a family. I continue to urge residents to report suspicious activity to the authorities, including my office, in the future.”
“The District Attorney’s office and NYPD have shown swift and decisive action in closing down these massage parlors, guarding both our quality of life and safety. Cracking down on this illicit activity not only protects our community, but also the young women being exploited. I thank our law enforcement for their diligence and I will continue working with my colleagues and the community to report suspicious activity,” said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.
“Today I join all of Brooklyn in applauding District Attorney Hynes, Commissioner Kelly and all the agencies involved in stopping these businesses from engaging in illegal activities and breaking the law,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Vincent Gentile. “I also commend all of the local residents who have called my office and the Community Board to alert us to these businesses. Today is a big triumph for our neighborhood!”
Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman said, “Today’s announcement is another example of District Attorney Hynes’ total commitment to helping fight crime, improve safety and quality of life for all Brooklyn residents and to recognizing the plight of many women who get trapped in unthinkable situations.”
“I would like to thank the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office for asking the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to participate in yet another in a series of multi-agency actions against these offenders. These massage parlors pose more than a quality of life problem for our neighborhoods – they harbor prostitution and abuse human trafficking victims. We are proud to work with the best in city and state law enforcement to bring these operations to an end,” said Kathleen McGee, Director, Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.
KCDA’s inquiry into the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights locations began after citizens living in the affected communities complained to KCDA through Community Board 10, late last year. These residents reported suspicious and disruptive activities in places that held themselves out as legitimate day spas and massage therapy locations.
The arrests are the result of a one-year joint investigation conducted by the KCDA Special Investigations Unit and the Brooklyn South VICE Unit of the NYPD. This operation used physical surveillance, undercover work, and search warrants to reveal evidence of sex trafficking, prostitution and promoting prostitution.
The investigation into Sex Trafficking in the Zhang/Liu ring was based on information obtained when one of the victims contacted KCDA in December, 2012. According to the indictment, a woman was assaulted and was forced to engage in prostitution at one of the ring’s “spas.” The indictment charges that defendant Yun Feng Zhang repeatedly kicked and slapped this woman, telling her that the customer is “God” and she must do whatever a customer requests.
The Zhang/Liu ring regularly advertised under a variety of names that offered massage therapy on websites like Craigslist.com, Backpage.com and Rubmaps.com. The name at 307 Henry Street was “Blue Diamond Health Center.” According to the investigation, it was also known as “Spring Spa Body Work Station Inc.”, and “Spring Spa, Inc.” The 223 Calyer Street location was called, “Health Center Massage Therapy”, also known as “Oasis Spa.”
Investigators were able to follow the money trail allegedly devised by the defendants. Customers paid for the prostitution services in cash or by credit card. The defendants allegedly laundered these transactions through seemingly legitimate businesses, and then further laundered the money by moving proceeds through the bank accounts of associated spas and related businesses in Florida, Texas and New Hampshire. They allegedly used the illegal proceeds to pay for additional online advertisements on Craigslist.com and Backpage.com.
The Drevetska/Talko ring allegedly operated out of various locations in the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights sections of Brooklyn. The “Beauty Connection Day Spa” was at 1275-77 70TH Street and the “City Style Spa” was located at 8017 New Utrecht Avenue.
This ring also regularly advertised online, offering “Amazing Body Rub. . . Unforgettable Full Bodywork” massages in Brooklyn, The ads also featured extremely graphic photos of scantily dressed women in sexually explicit poses.
According to the investigation, customers paid for the prostitution services in cash or by credit card and the credit card transactions were laundered through a merchant account held in the name of “Beauty Connection Day Spa, Inc.”
With the assistance of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, search warrants were executed at each location this past weekend.
KCDA is working with the NYPD’s Civil Enforcement Unit to close these locations through the use of NYC Nuisance Abatement Laws.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
District Attorney Hynes would like to thank Investigator Donald Lyons and Captain Natalie Maldonado, of Brooklyn South Narcotics. The following members of KCDA Special Investigations Unit participated on these cases: Supervising Detective Investigator William Pettie, Detective Investigators Roger Torres, Radmila Aliyev, Jeannette Sbordone, Stephanie Green-Jones, Daniel Lasak and John Mullen. Greg DeBoer is the Deputy Chief of SIU, George Terra is the Asst. Chief and Joseph Ponzi is the Chief Investigator.
The cases are being prosecuted by Michael Ryan, Rackets Division Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorneys Courtney Redman and Vineet Mehta. Michael Vecchione is the Chief of the Rackets Division.