Police put the squeeze on massage parlor operators
By Graham Kates
New Healing Touch might be one step closer to closing.
Capt. Kevin Burke, commander of the 50th Precinct, said on May 4 that he expects the NYPD’s Nuisance Abatement Unit to get a temporary restraining order that would shutter the massage parlor at 4685 Manhattan College Parkway.
Although most abatements, or forced closures, are temporary, Capt. Burke said it’s the first step in a process that could hurt a business financially and ultimately lead to its shuttering.
“It hits them in the pocketbook, they have to hire an attorney, pay fines,” Capt. Burke said, adding that after multiple abatements a judge might order a business to close.
Investigators first struck on Dec. 22, when an officer visited the massage parlor and employee Yingji Li allegedly offered to touch his penis in exchange for money, according to court documents. She was arrested and charged with one misdemeanor prostitution count. Ms. Li’s arrest came less than three weeks after state Sen. Jeff Klein sent a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly requesting that the NYPD look into possible prostitution at New Healing Touch.
Two months later, Bronx Vice Squad visited the massage parlor again, at around 3:40 p.m. on Feb. 29. An undercover officer received a 30-minute-long massage from Ying Al Li, 43, and inquired about sexual services afterward, according to a complaint filed with the Bronx District Attorney’s office.
Representatives of New Healing Touch could not be reached by press time, but on March 2, Ms. Li’s brother defended her.
“She is never doing this at work,” Wun Li, who is also the manager of New Healing Touch, said, adding that she was confused by the undercover officer’s sexual request. “She thinks it was a hand massage.”
A similar sting on Feb. 16 at Riverdale Skin & Body, at 3733 Riverdale Ave., yielded two arrests. Kim Kisook, 36, was taken in for prostitution and Eun Lee, 53, for permitting prostitution.
Capt. Burke said he hopes the abatement will serve as a warning to other businesses in the area that might be offering illicit services.
“I hope it will have positive consequences in the fact that we don’t mind people operating a legitimate business, we support that, but when it comes to a business that runs afoul of the law, in terms of prostitution,” Capt. Burke said.