On February 19, 2019, law enforcement agencies across the Treasure Coast completed a 7-month investigation into an international human trafficking ring operating out of Florida massage parlors. Two spa managers, Ruimei Li and Lixia Zhu, have already been arrested on charges including racketeering, money laundering, engaging or maintaining a place of prostitution, and deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.
At a press event, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder announced that hundreds of warrants are currently out for “customers” who purchased sexual services from these spas. Snyder explained that although eight spas have been shut down, “The tentacles of this go from here to New York to China, in Florida from here to Orange County.”
The following businesses have been closed due to law enforcement crackdowns:
- Cove Day Spa in Stuart
- Therapy Spa in Stuart
- Bridge Day Spa in Hobe Sound
- Sequoia Apple Day Spa in Hobe Sound
- Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter
- AA Massage in Sebastian
- East Spa in Vero Beach
Currently, 26 men in Martin County have already been arrested on charges of soliciting prostitution and use of a structure or conveyance for prostitution. Likewise, in Indian River County, approximately 200 people are expected to be charged with similar prostitution-related crimes. Kathryn Roegiers, our Stuart sex crimes attorney, commented on these arrests, stating “These charges can carry serious penalties and it’s important to contact an attorney immediately.”
On February 19, 2019, Snyder opined that “There will be a newsmaker in this one,” indicating that a celebrity or prominent community member has solicited illegal services from one of these massage parlors in the past. Today, Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr announced that Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. He is likely not going to be the last high-profile arrest.
FLORIDA’S PROSTITUTION LAWS
According to Florida Statute 796.07(f), it is illegal to “solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.” If you’ve been arrested for soliciting prostitution, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced attorney as quickly as possible. After all, even first-time offenders can face harsh penalties if convicted in court, and you don’t want to leave your future to chance.
A first degree misdemeanor conviction can lead to the following penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 1 year of probation
- $5,000 in civil fines
- Up to $1,000 in criminal fines
- 100 hours of community service
Of course, these penalties can be increased if you have prior convictions for prostitution. In cases like these, only effective and experienced legal representation can help you obtain a live-saving acquittal, charge reduction, or case dismissal.
FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES? CONTACT ATTORNEY KATHRYN ROEGIERS TODAY!
Sex crime allegations can devastate all facets of your life and impact your standard of living. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s time to call the Stuart sex crimes lawyer at Roegiers Law. Our attorney is a former public defender, which means that she has a thorough understanding of the regulations and protocols associated with this complex legal field. No matter the complexity of your case, rely on our lawyer to help you secure a positive case outcome.
Contact Roegiers Law at (772) 266-3088 to schedule a consultation.