Court Docs Reveal Details on Massage Parlor Raided for Alleged Prostitution

By Joy Bergmann

An accusation of alleged prostitution lodged last July via the Crime Stoppers program set in motion an NYPD undercover operation that ultimately shut down Chinese Best Qi Gong Tuina Back Rub & Foot Rub on February 14th as a “public nuisance”, according to court records.

NYPD’s Civil Enforcement Unit filed its complaint against the Land and Building Known as 216 West 103 Street, Chinese Best and “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” – stand-ins for the massage parlor’s operators whose true names remain unknown.

After receiving the Crime Stoppers tip, two undercover detectives from the Manhattan Vice Enforcement Squad paid visits to the premises.

In his sworn affidavit, Undercover Officer #379 says that on September 5th he was escorted to a small room with a massage table. Inside, he “engaged in a brief conversation with the female during which I was informed that it would cost $100 for massage and manual stimulation. The female then agreed to perform the massage and manual stimulation. I then left and notified the field team of what had transpired.”

The same officer returned on October 4th, arranging for an hour-long massage for $40. Once inside the room with a female attendant, “I engaged in a brief sex-related conversation with the female, during which I was informed that it would cost $40 for manual stimulation. The female then agreed to perform manual stimulation. I then left the subject premises and notified the field team.”

In his sworn affidavit, Undercover Officer #285 says he then visited on October 6th. “Once inside the room, I engaged in a brief conversation with the female during which I was informed that it would cost $26 for a 30-minute massage and $40 for manual stimulation. The female then agreed to perform the massage and manual stimulation. I then left the subject premises and notified the field team.”

Officer #379 returned on October 16th and arranged for a $40 massage. “Once inside the room, I engaged in a brief sex-related conversation with the female, during which I was informed that it would cost $40 for manual stimulation. The female then agreed to perform manual stimulation. I then left the subject premises and notified the field team.”

Soon thereafter, the affidavit says, the field team entered the business with a search warrant and apprehended the female attendant who had allegedly agreed to the sexual conduct in exchange for money. She was arrested and charged with prostitution. Her identity was not revealed in the file.

The Civil Enforcement Unit cited these incidents in its “Nuisance Abatement” action seeking the shutdown, noting, “no legitimate interest of defendants will be harmed by an injunction. In contrast, the City of New York, and the public at large which it is required to protect, will benefit greatly if the threat of continued prostitution activity is eliminated from the subject premises.”

Not all New York authorities agree with the punitive approach. Last month, State Senators Jessica Ramos, Julia Salazar and Brad Hoylman with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried announced they are working with activists from Decrim NY to introduce legislation decriminalizing sex work in New York.

The case against Chinese Best also demonstrates how multiple individuals and entities may be forced to defend themselves when such sweeps occur.

Chinese Best’s landlord, Branic International Realty Corp (which is owned by Hank Freid) was also named as a defendant in this case. Branic’s attorneys have denied any knowledge of alleged prostitution at their tenant’s business. Further, Branic attorneys say in court documents, the commercial lease for the premises explicitly forbids “any sort of commercial sex establishment.”

Chinese Best was located on the north side of Freid’s property at 103rd and Broadway that also contains his Marrakech Hotel, currently embroiled in another city lawsuit alleging illegal hotel operations. We wrote about that case here.

NEWS | 22 comments | permalink
    1. West70th says:

      No happy ending in this story

      • David says:

        Did the officers find out the cost for a massage and manual stimulation, and left the premises, or did they engage in a massage and manual stimulation? Can one be arrested for divulging a price list, that seems to fluctuate, depending on the day, and who is asking for the price list?

    2. Amanda Hugenkiss says:

      So, they kept “coming” back? Just gotta make sure…

    3. Scott says:

      It’s great that cops are spending lots of time policing consensual activity between adults, while ignoring zillions of quality of life crimes and belittling people who report them.

      • Mike022 says:

        There’s a thing called “human trafficking” which is a serious crime and a far cry from “consensual” activity. Many of these sex industry workers, especially in Asian “spas”, are there against their will.

      • Martha says:

        “Consenting” adults is the key issue. The problem is whether these women (underage girls) are victims of sex trafficking.

        • Kayson212 says:

          Absolutely right about the sex trafficking — but I’d like to know what happens to these workers after a place is shut down. (Follow-up story here for am ambitious reporter.)

          • Sherman says:

            @ Kayson212

            I’m not too worried about them.

            There are Chinese massage places all over the city and they’re likely offering the same services as this place did.

            I’m sure these workers will have no problem getting new work.

            In fact, if they’ve been doing a good job and have a good reputation they might even be able to bring some of their repeat customers with them to their new jobs.

            It’s always important to network and maintain good relationships whatever your profession is.

            • J says:

              Sherman,
              Respectfully…in past posts you have mentioned you are a parent.
              Be assured that trafficking is huge problem – victimizing, enslaving children and women all over the world.
              The average person has no idea of the horrors and magnitude.
              All of us, particularly those of us who are parents, should be horrified.
              Not a matter to be minimized or joked about…

            • Ray says:

              Sherman;

              I’m not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse, but the issue here isn’t the workers losing their income that this job provided.

              The issue is that the workers are very likely trafficked sex slaves. They do not want “to bring some of their repeat customers with them to their new jobs”. They want to not be sex slaves.

        • Kitty says:

          We live next door to the fine establishment and saw the girls living underground, under those metal slats. Food would be delivered down there by the owners who actually live in our building. The whole thing is very shady.

      • Jorge says:

        So true

    4. Manuel Stim says:

      Hand jobs in Chinese Body Rub joint on 103rd? I’m totally shocked.

    5. chrigid says:

      So all those cop visits: did they or didn’t they?

    6. B flat says:

      how long has the place been around? Guess they weren’t keeping up with the payoffs

    7. Oliver says:

      Why penalize the woman who most unlikely did not like her job and most likely was coerced into doing that type of work? Prosecute the men seeking the service if you want to keep sex work criminalized!

    8. ML says:

      Focus more police resources towards making the streets safer against reckless drivers that don’t yield for pedestrians in the crosswalks, especially when the vehicles make turns. The most unsafe intersections are well known, put undercover vehicles and police at those areas and ticket bad drivers. There are traffic lights that go from green to countdown mode in only one second, many corners need yield signs and other safety features.

    9. FP says:

      How do you know which of these kinds of places are legits, and which are not? I love a good Chinese massage; so do many of my friends. But I hate to think that this is *also* going on, maybe in the next room.

    10. E. Zilly Confused says:

      Re: “Qi Gong Tuina”

      As long as the ‘authorities’ are cracking down on massage-parlors PERHAPS they should force them to take the “TUINA” off their signage.

      WHY?

      So that nincompoops (oui, c’est moi) don’t keep confusing it with TUNA 🤪

      To “borrow” from the wonderfully hysterical 1980 film “Airplane!”:

      Hold the Mayo…AND the TUINA.

    11. B.B. says:

      So it appears LE followed standard procedures for investigating complaints and or location suspected of indoor prostitution.

      Indoor prostitution crimes can, and often are difficult. In order for an arrest to lead into successful prosecution (or a guilty plea) obviously a quid pro quo must happen. Those engaging in such activities (at least the smart ones) understandably are reluctant to take the bait. This is if LE can gain access.

      Often if a suspect or whatever does admit LE, something triggers their innate sense of self preservation, and they shut down. Unless certain things are said, done and recorded any arrest won’t stand much of a chance in successful prosecution. Especially of the suspects retain effective legal council. At which point all that LE time and effort is now wasted.

      Happily New York LE does have another tool known as nuisance abatement laws. While most associate their application with nightclubs, bars and so forth; the laws have proven useful in shutting down apartments and other locations of indoor prostitution.

      There have always been cat houses, and or individuals working out of their own apartments/homes. However since the 1990’s the rapid advances and spread of technology has lead to an explosion of indoor prostitution.

      Thanks first to PCs, now phones and tablets (which nearly everyone has access to one or both), finding indoor sex workers (females, males, trans, straight, gay, etc…) has never been easier.

      People saw and or think the city has “cleaned up” and totally gentrified. Not a bit of it; nearly everything illicit once sold on streets (drugs, sex) have now largely moved indoors. You can order a prostitute and or illegal drugs easily as a Dominos pizza. Both will be delivered right to your front door. *LOL*

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/nyregion/brooklyn-brothel-park-slope-police.html

      Anyone who thinks such things are restricted to middle or low income areas of UWS or city should think again: https://www.habitatmag.com/Publication-Content/Board-Operations/2012/2012-March/Settlement-Condo-Male-Prostitution-Case

      • Mikey G says:

        Thank you, by far the most thoughtful and well-researched comment on this post. Most people are clueless.