Prostitution and Potential Human Trafficking in KIRKLAND
Tucked away behind an accountant's office on Northeast 85th Street, the Red Rose Hot Stone Spa sits empty.
Prostitution charges for Rose Hill massage parlor owner, employees
By KENDALL WATSON Kirkland Reporter Staff Writer Oct 21 2008 · UPDATED
King County prosecutors filed charges Oct. 9 of promoting prostitution, a felony, against a Kirkland man and three other women.
Following a nine-month investigation, detectives from the King County Sheriff's Office believe Sheung Tam, 45, was running two massage parlors in Kirkland and Renton as fronts for prostitution. They also allege that her business partner, Kirkland resident Timothy Kevin Howell, and two Bellevue women, Wei Qing Tong, 46, and 39-year-old Chinese national Yu Xian Huang helped manage the criminal enterprise. The four are accused of running two massage parlors in Kirkland and Renton that offered sexual contact for cash. Howell, 35, is also listed as a Class-II sex offender from a past conviction for child rape.
The two businesses -- Red Dragon Spa at 352 Sunset Blvd. N. in Renton and Red Rose Hot Stone Spa at 13017 N.E. 85th St. in Kirkland -- were owned and operated by Tam, a Bothell resident and mother of a 22-year-old daughter. They were both raided in July and shut down. If convicted, the four face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Sharing the same block on 85th Street with Red Rose Spa, Red Rose Chiropractic Clinic and Rosehill Chiropractic Center -- which sits next to the Red Rose Hot Stone Spa property -- have suffered from some confusion over similar-sounding names and services. The chiropractors use professional massage therapists as part of their health care practice, while none of the "masseuses" at Red Rose Spa were state-licensed massage practitioners.
"We started getting some strange people coming in," said Lori, a receptionist for Red Rose Chiropractic. "Lots of men asking about massages and we were wondering 'What's going on?'"
Still advertised online at Yellowpages.com and CitySearch.com as "Red Rose Massage," the business is described as a place where a person will "feel safe enough to relax and unwind." The listing also provides a non-working phone number and includes an anonymous, negative review from earlier this spring.
According to court records, the investigation began last October after a vice detective monitoring the Internet noticed suspicious advertising for the Red Dragon Spa at the Web site Craigslist. The link between the two massage parlors became obvious as detectives followed Tam and Tong traveling between the two locations, delivering laundry and making payroll deposits at a local bank. A subsequent records check of state tax records reportedly lists almost no earnings for the two women. Undercover detectives later visited both locations several times while posing as "johns" and received offers of a sex act in exchange for $100.
Kirkland Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also aided the investigation.
The long investigation helped authorities gather additional information on the four suspects. A former boyfriend of Tam's told police she asked for his help to import Chinese girls in exchange for $30,000. Another person, a woman who identified herself as "Angie," said she knew Tam by her nickname, "Kitty," while living in Hong Kong, China. She feared her as "cunning and smart" and believed Tam planned to use a "younger man to front her a massage business."
An arraignment for the four is scheduled to be heard on Oct. 22 in Kent.