"Prosperity always inflates the imprudent, and worldly peace weakens the vigor of the soul." - Peter Abelard

Thursday, August 18, 2011

D.A. Drops Charges In Wellesley Prostitution Sting

This is part one of a two-part investigative story published in the August 18th issue of The Wellesley Townsman. The stories investigate a undercover prostitution bust made by Wellesley police and NORPAC detectives on Aug. 11, and the subsequent fallout from that bust. The story has since been picked up by WCVB (Boston Channel 5), and can be read here.

A still-existing sign inside 120 Cedar Street advertising the Aroma Spa, an alleged house of prostitution. Photo by Rhys Heyden.
WELLESLEY, Mass. - - A masseuse was arrested after she allegedly massaged an undercover officer’s genitals during a prostitution sting last week, according to police reports. But late Wednesday afternoon, the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office said the charges had been dropped and the case is no longer pending. They did not elaborate.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, officers arrested Aiying Qiao, 52, whose only known address is 120 Cedar St., after she allegedly accepted $40 from an undercover police officer to perform sexual services in a “massage” parlor in the building. The building is located just off Route 9, near the newly renovated Cedar Street bridge.

Qiao was arrested on three counts: engaging in sexual conduct for a fee, keeping a house of prostitution, and having an unlicensed massage/bath house. She pleaded not guilty to all three charges, and was bailed on personal recognizance the next day at Dedham District Court, according to court reports.

The sting marks the fourth time since 2008 that Wellesley police have busted what they allege is a prostitution operation. In 2008, Wellesley police shut down unlicensed massage businesses on Linden Street and Cedar Street in January and June, respectively. An alleged brothel was also shut down on Grove Street in March of 2010.

The Sting

According to Wellesley Police reports, Qiao’s arrest was the culmination of a month-long investigation by NORPAC task force officials, who, in July, first noticed a suspicious neon sign advertising “Aroma Spa Massage” in the window of the building.

NORPAC is the Norfolk County Police Anti-Crime Task Force, a multi-agency unit comprised of police detectives from 15 police departments in Norfolk County, according to its website.

According to an Aug. 8 online posting on craigslist, Aroma Spa at 120 Cedar St. was advertised as a place to “relieve your stress and tension” that had “service in clean, quiet and private rooms.”

A separate post on “Rub Maps,” a website that compiles reviews of “erotic Asian massage parlors,” also listed Aroma Spa at 120 Cedar St. in Wellesley. The site added that the business takes cash only, and listed hours as 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

According to police reports, investigating Wellesley Detective Robert J. Gallagher later determined that no massage license existed for the Aroma Spa. On Aug. 11, Gallagher and Detective Domenic Tiberi, a detective working with NORPAC Task Force, devised an undercover operation. That evening, Tiberi made an appointment with Qiao over the phone via the number posted on Craigslist for 5:45 that night.

According to the report, that Thursday night Qiao charged $60 for a massage, and Tiberi asked if she would “take care of him,”and she nodded yes. Tiberi paid with a pre-marked $100 bill, and Qiao proceeded to give him a 45-minute massage, according to the report on file at the Dedham District Court.

During the massage Qiao allegedly placed the $40 change on a table, the police report states. After Tiberi gave it back to her, the report notes, she allegedly placed it in her bra and began massaging Tiberi’s genitals. This, the report states, was interrupted by a pre-planned call from Wellesley Det. Gallagher, pretending to inform Tiberi of a family emergency.

(Tiberi's actions have since been called into question, and you can read the Townsman article here that investigates his actions.)

The report goes on to state that after Tiberi left the building, a cohort of Wellesley and Needham police officers entered the business, recovered the marked bills, and arrested Qiao. She was then taken to the Wellesley police station, processed, and read her rights, the report states.

The Aftermath

Qiao, who speaks primarily Mandarin Chinese, needed a translator for both her interview with Wellesley police and arraignment at Dedham District Court.

According to the report, Larry Ng, a local business-owner, served as her translator at the police station. During this time, Qiao allegedly claimed she had no massage license because she only did “bodyworks.” She also had no identification with her.

Along with signs in the lobby of 120 Cedar St. and keys to the business, Wellesley Police seized six pages of customer record sheets, according to the report.

If convicted of all three charges, Qiao could have served up to three and a half years in a house of correction and paid a penalty of up to $600. She had a pre-trial hearing originally set for Sept. 9, and would have been represented by attorney Frank DiMento Jr., according to reports from the Dedham District Court.

The building at 120 Cedar St. is owned by the E. Reynolds Realty Partnership.

Raymond Reynolds, the owner of the building, declined to comment for this article. According to the police report, officers apprised Reynolds of the situation on Thursday night after making the arrest.

Phone calls placed to the craigslist number for the Aroma Spa by the Townsman were not returned, although a voice-mail was set up.

Roy Switzler, of Switzler Realty, was the listing agent for 120 Cedar St. He said he never met the tenant, and the leasing in this case was done by a local co-broker, Marta Malina. The name on the lease was Hong Tao Shao, of Connecticut, Switzler said.

Switzler said the second floor, where the Aroma Spa was located, had been empty for almost two years, and Reynolds was pleased to finally have a tenant when Qiao moved in roughly a month ago.

“The [lessee's] background and credit both checked out and she had good references but, evidently, something happened along the way, said Switzler. “It’s just a sad thing, and it’s a total surprise for me.”

In the report, Detective Gallagher wrote about “ongoing investigations” that started in 2007 among many Norfolk County communities. These investigations have focused on identifying prostitution businesses in the MetroWest area.

Such businesses have become increasingly common in suburban communities like Wellesley, where detection can be more difficult for law enforcement officials.


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