Oriental massage spa a front for organized crime, vice, Carroll prosecutor says

March 05, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS — An article in yesterday's Carroll County edition misidentified the attorney representing William Tallo and Sunn Express. Paul E. Draper, an attorney who practices in Columbia in the field of estate and trusts, has never represented either Sunn Express or William Tallo.

* The Sun regrets the error.

ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman alleged yesterday that the county's only Oriental massage spa is a front for prostitution tied to an Asian organized crime ring.

"We're one of the victims of this chain of massage parlors, which are tied to Asian organized crime and are fronts for prostitution," Mr. Hickman told the House Economic Matters Committee. "We now have one in Carroll County."

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The prosecutor made the remark during a hearing on a bill that would allow Carroll's county commissioners to regulate and eventually outlaw massage parlors.

Mr. Hickman declined to name a specific establishment and did not say what prompted his comment.

But the manager of Sunn Express Oriental Spa, the county's only Oriental massage center, called Mr. Hickman's assertion "totally false."

"This is total nonsense, what he's talking about," said Bill Taylor, manager of the Sunn Express facility in a Finksburg strip mall at Suffolk Road and Route 140. "What he's talking about may be right in New York or Chicago, but not in Carroll County."

Mr. Taylor denied that Sunn Express had any ties to organized crime or to prostitution.

Sunn Express opened last year and has generated complaints from parents and homeowners.

Mr. Hickman said yesterday that the opening of the facility was the impetus behind the proposed massage parlor regulation bill. The bill, if enacted by the General Assembly, would take effect Oct. 1 and would allow Carroll's commissioners to regulate massage establishments.

Paul Draper, an attorney for Sunn Express owner William Tallo, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr. Taylor said yesterday that Mr. Tallo was in Europe.

Mr. Hickman said yesterday that the bill would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to close down prostitution rings disguised as massage centers.

"This gets this thing at the root," he said after the committee hearing. "Our law enforcement people won't have to go in and commit illicit acts in order to detect crimes."

He said similar laws already are on the books in Ocean City, and in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. Howard County, which has six Oriental massage spas, and Baltimore County both have massage parlor bills pending before their county councils. A Baltimore County vice detective also testified yesterday in support of the bill, which would affect only Carroll County.

"There is prostitution occurring in these types of establishments in our county," said Detective J. Douglas Dunlap. "They advertise in papers and mislead landlords as to their business. You pay $60, get a full-body shampoo. Then they massage you, masturbate you and then solicit you for prostitution."

Detective Dunlap said bills such as the one considered yesterday would "shut down other attempts to open" massage parlors.

The Carroll bill would not affect physical therapists and trained massage therapists, nor would it affect sports medicine clinics or chiropractic offices.

Two women were charged with prostitution in a Jan. 25 raid of the Tokyo Spa, at 7060 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia.

One woman was placed on six months' unsupervised probation May 7, given probation before judgment and ordered tested for AIDS.

In August, prostitution charges against the second woman, formerly of Columbia, were dropped because a police informant told prosecutors at the last minute he couldn't testify.

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