I want to be LE in Va.

Discussion in 'DC & Baltimore / Maryland / Virginia / Delaware' started by Al Kikuras, Feb 13, 2006.

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  1. HarryBeavers


    No more free Nookie :

    Spotsylvania ends massage parlor policy
    Police no longer to engage in sex acts as part of investigation


    SPOTSYLVANIA -- Spotsylvania County authorities have suspended their much-ridiculed practice of allowing undercover officers to take part in sex acts while investigating alleged prostitution at massage parlors.
    Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith said his decision was in response to county residents' concerns about the unorthodox tactics.

    "I understand the feelings and concerns the citizens of this county have expressed. And I empathize with those feelings," he said in a brief statement yesterday.

    Smith said his senior staff will review the practices and report back to him as soon as possible. He declined to comment further.

    Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney William F. Neely, whose office authorized the practices, said that authorities would evaluate the measures and decide whether to reinstate them or attack the problem by enforcing local ordinances, which he described as less effective.

    "It's going to be very difficult," he said, adding other approaches might diminish the ability of authorities to seize assets and that business owners might simply reopen if the financial threat is minimized. He said the sheriff had not consulted him before deciding to suspend the practices.

    Henry Connors Jr., chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, applauded the sheriff's decision. He said he expects the practices will be halted permanently.

    Spotsylvania authorities have been lampooned nationally and internationally this week.

    Connors said the episode "has tarnished our image somewhat," adding, "It's been a long week." He called the sheriff "a very good man with a tough job."

    Neely has said the sex acts had to proceed beyond fondling because touching is not a crime in Virginia. He said authorities sought felony sex-crime charges, rather than misdemeanor prostitution charges, in their attempts to shut down massage parlors and seize business assets. The prosecutor also said more than a verbal agreement was needed because some of the defendants spoke little or no English.

    Connors said he would have preferred working to change state law, rather than working around it. Neely said yesterday that he welcomes help from the General Assembly.

    The practices, which The Times-Dispatch reported in 2003 in another Spotsylvania massage parlor case and which were detailed by The Washington Post on Monday in reporting on the Moon Spa case, is not without precedent elsewhere. Similar tactics have been employed, but discontinued, in Phoenix, Louisville, Ky., and suburban Maryland.

    Spotsylvania authorities have noted that a judge did not caution them in the 2003 case involving an establishment called Genex.

    An undercover detective testified in that case that two women fondled him on separate occasions and attempted oral sex, making contact in one instance. He testified that he stopped the women before they went further. Judge Gordon Willis of Spotsylvania General District Court certified charges to a grand jury after the testimony, and the case resulted in convictions.

    Connors said he doesn't believe Spotsylvania has more of a problem with massage parlors than other large, growing localities in Virginia. Still, he said authorities need to keep an eye on parlors.

    "There's no disagreement about busting crime," he said. "The disagreement came over the tactics."
  2. DoNotDisturb


    I guess this will lead to a new operation called "Buy & Bust A Nut' ;)
  3. Lou Grant

    Lou Grant

    How many times does this topic have to be introduced in a new thread? What's this, number 3-4?
  4. HarryBeavers


  5. Bandaid


    Can these pols get far enough away from this? I'd pay money for a CD of the phone calls that went back and forth over this.
  6. Al Kikuras

    Al Kikuras

    By the Associated Press
    February 13, 2006
    SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. -- Undercover detectives in northern Virginia's Spotsylvania County have their sheriff's blessing to receive sexual services at massage parlors so they can catch suspects in the act.

    Sheriff Howard D. Smith, who limits the work to unmarried detectives, stands by the practice.

    "If I thought we could get the conviction without that, we wouldn't allow it," Smith told The Washington Post for a story on the policy Monday.

    Court documents show that four times last month, county detectives allowed women at Moon Spa to perform sex acts on them _ once leaving a $350 tip. Smith acknowledged the practice isn't new.

    Several police officials and legal observers said the practice had been tried by other law enforcement agencies across the country in the past, but they knew of none that still permit sexual contact with suspects as part of prostitution investigations.

    "It's insane," said Charles J. Key Sr., a retired Baltimore police lieutenant who trains law enforcement officers nationwide. "If you allow officers to go through with the act, they've violated the law. You don't get an exception for participating in a violation of law."

    Other law enforcement agencies have dropped the tactic after it backfired.

    In Montgomery County, Md., for instance, police had informers engage in sex acts at massage parlors about five years ago. Prosecutors told the police to end the practice, and charges were dismissed.

    Henry Connors Jr., chairman of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors, told The Associated Press on Monday he planned to ask the sheriff to stop the practice immediately.

    "It gives a whole new meaning to protect and serve," Connors said.

    Law enforcement officials say undercover officers only need to get an offer of sex for money to move the case forward.

    Fairfax County's chief prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. said there is typically a conversation where the specific sexual act and its price is set. He added that these negotiations aren't so hard because "there aren't a lot of Phi Beta Kappas in that field."

    But Smith said sexual contact is needed during the investigations because most professionals know not to say anything incriminating. And conversation is difficult, he said, because masseuses at the Asian-run parlors in the county speak little English.

    The sheriff got some support from county Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Thomas Shaia, who compared the situation to the need for investigators to buy drugs from drug dealers.

    Smith and Shaia's boss, Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely, did not return a telephone call left Monday by the AP.

    According to the Post, the sheriff's office has closed several massage parlors with assistance from the Financial Crime Intelligence Center in the attorney general's office.

    The center's director, Edward J. Doyle, wrote an affidavit for a raid last week on Moon Spa. Hae Suk Chon and Chung Hwan Choe, accused of being the spa's proprietors, were arrested.

    According to the affidavit, two Spotsylvania detectives each paid $60 for a 30-minute massage at the spa. A woman called "Mimi" bathed the detectives, gave them massages and then performed sex acts on them.

    "For her services, 'Mimi' was paid a $50 'tip,"' Doyle wrote. The sheriff's office followed up with two more visits.

    Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, would not comment on whether the state was investigating the Spotsylvania matter. He told the Post it was an issue for local law enforcement.

    When asked about the attorney general's office's knowledge of the Spotsylvania detectives' actions, Martin said: "This office was asked to assist solely in the financial crimes aspect of the investigation. And that is the extent of our involvement."
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006