published Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Prostitution sting in East Ridge part of state crackdown

A prostitution operation set up to appear as a massage parlor remained shuttered this week after East Ridge police, TBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement served a search warrant over the weekend.

Lights remained out and black plastic lined some of the windows at the brick office building at 1450 N. Mack Smith Road, just blocks away from Interstate 75.

When officers entered the business they found two women, including 50-year-old Son An Chin, of Scottsdale, Ariz., who said she gave two massages Friday.

A used condom was found in one of the rooms where she said she gave a massage.

Another woman, 63-year-old Sun S. Duty, of Norcross, Ga., reportedly took payments and directed the business. The building contained living areas for both of the women, according to an arrest report.

Evidence found at the business included condoms found in compartments in hair care product bottles as well as condoms wrapped in foil in trash cans. Handwritten accounting notes were found, as well as two television screens used as monitors for four security cameras that provided views of the perimeter of the building. More than $4,400 in cash was seized by authorities.

Duty had numerous documents related to other parlors in multiple states. Immigration officials were able to identify and link other people who are connected to other investigations, according to the police report.

Both women face prostitution charges after undercover officers were solicited by the women for sex acts, according to the report.

It's against the law to act as a massage therapist if the person holds no license. Chin, who is not licensed, faces a charge of impersonation of a licensed professional, which is a Class E felony. If convicted, she could face between one and six years in prison depending on her previous criminal history.

The business, Midori Spa, had ads running on Backpage.com for months offering "experienced pretty Asian therapeutic bodywork."

Business records in East Ridge show that another business held a license for the address, 1450 Massage, with the owner listed as Moo Shik Yoon. The license was applied for in January.

Emerson Russell, CEO of ERMC, owns the property and said the tenants always paid rent on time. He said he was made aware of the business front by police.

"We stayed away like we were requested. I have a person who handles my rental property and he was the one who rented the location," Russell said. "The business was sold several months back and a new lease was made to the new owners in Atlanta. In the lease it clearly states they can not conduct any illegal activity on the property."

The bust was part of a statewide crackdown on businesses posing as spas and massage parlors.

Lebanon, Tenn., police arrested three people on prostitution charges after searching Lee Spa on Sparta Pike on Friday. They seized $4,700. Murfreesboro police raided two businesses, Health Massage on South Church Street and Chinese Therapeutic Massage on Memorial Boulevard, where they seized more than $50,000 in cash. Knoxville police also shuttered Smile Spa on Clinton Highway.

Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said the operation took place at about a dozen spas that were "promoting prostitution or human trafficking."

Duty and Chin are set to appear in East Ridge Municipal Court on Nov. 5.

Reports from The Tennessean and Knoxville News Sentinel were used for this story.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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