Howard County police have charged three women and one man with prostitution-related crimes in the Wednesday evening raid of an illegal Ellicott City massage parlor.
Police said that they had received numerous complaints about prostitution taking place at Presence of Mind, in the 9000 block of Chevrolet Drive, which advertises itself as a massage parlor, but is not licensed as one.
Police allege that the employees provided sexual acts to customers in exchange for money and that the owner, Dana R. Zimmerman, 38, received a portion of those payments.
Zimmerman, of the 8700 block of Town and Country Blvd. in Ellicott City, was charged with prostitution, two counts of receiving earnings from it and two counts of maintaining a brothel.
Amber M. Linn, 20, of the 3000 block of Woodside Ave. in Baltimore and Christina M. Perry, 25, of the 700 block of Fern Way in Catonsville, were charged with prostitution.
Police also charged Robert Williams, 42, of the 9200 block of Broken Timber Way in Columbia with engaging in prostitution.
Howard County leaders have long considered brothels, masked as massage parlors, a problem in the county. In 1997, the County Council made it illegal to massage a member of the opposite sex unless the masseur or masseuse has received at least 500 hours of training from an approved school and national certification.
The law allows representatives from several county agencies, including the police, to inspect the parlors at any time. No doors to massage rooms may be locked. Officials may enter a room after knocking once and identifying themselves.
Had Presence of Mind been licensed as a massage parlor, such inspections would have been conducted, a police spokeswoman said.