City postpones hearing for massage parlors accused of prostitution

  • Massage Villa at 1437 Huntington Dr. in South Pasadena on Thursday, March 8, 2012. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
Massage Villa at 1437 Huntington Dr. in South Pasadena on Thursday, March…
March 09, 2012

South Pasadena officials this week postponed a hearing to revoke the business licenses of two massage parlors accused of prostitution, citing a need to build up a case against them.

A public hearing before the City Council had been set for March 7 after police charged the businesses owners with suspicion of disorderly conduct and two employees on suspicion of prostitution. The hearing, or any action on the matter, has been postponed indefinitely, city officials said Wednesday. The issue is in the hands of the city’s prosecutor.

“The case has to be built up and presented in another way,” said City Attorney Richard Adams. “It’s not lying dormant, it’s moving forward.”

South Pasadena police arrested Massage Villa owner Ling Ling Kuo, 44, of Alhambra, on Feb. 10 on suspicion of operating a disorderly house.

Two of his employees were also arrested: Xiaosu Xu, 25, of Diamond Bar, on suspicion of prostitution, and Li Jie Cui, on suspicion of interfering with an investigation.

King Spa Massage owner Mengdong Wang, 36, of Monterey Park, was arrested Jan. 27 on suspicion of operating a disorderly house. King Spa worker Ping Li, 49, of West Covina, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution.

In February, City Council members said they would take up the business license revocation even if the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to charge the suspects. South Pasadena has been trying to curb the number of massage establishments in the city.

An attorney for one of the parlors warned the city it may be premature to revoke their business permits before there has been any finding of wrongdoing.

At Wednesday's council meeting, South Pasadena resident Kelly Conte said she wants the city to take action and that believes the matter was postponed because officials are concerned about opening themselves up to a lawsuit.

“It seems the council is hiding under the impression that we cannot do anything because of liability, we cannot do anything because of confidentiality, we cannot do anything because it’s a salacious matter,” Conte said. “Inaction in the face of liability is not accountability.”

Adams said that was not the case and that the city prosecutor and police department are aggressively pursuing the matter.

“I don’t understand why a license revocation hearing has to wait for the city prosecutor,” said Councilman Philip Putnam. “It isn’t dependent on a criminal prosecution.”

South Pasadena authorities said it could take a while before the DA's office decides whether to file charges.

"To prosecute these cases there's got to be a lot of evidence built up," said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti, who is also a California Deputy Attorney General. "Otherwise you prosecute, you lose and they're still there."


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