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Two massage parlor employees charged in prostitution sting

Woodbury police executed a search warrant Oct. 29 at Eastern Massage and Spa on Weir Drive. Two employees have been charged with gross misdemeanor promotion of prostitution. Woodbury police said they are taking steps to attempt to shut the business down, which has been closed since the arrests. Staff photo by Hank Long.

Police arrested two women at a Woodbury massage business Thursday, Oct. 29 on suspicion of promotion of prostitution. An Inver Grove Heights man was also arrested on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution.

The arrests took place at Eastern Massage and Spa on Weir Drive.

The city of Woodbury filed charges Monday against the women . Fu Juan Zhai, 51 and Li Hue Wang, 46, were charged with gross misdemeanor promotion of prostitution.

Kenneth Evan Brown, 35, was booked and released at the jail Thursday. His arrest came on his birthday.

Woodbury police officers, who made the arrest shortly after 2 p.m., were joined at the scene by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The arrests followed a Woodbury police investigation dating back to June 2009 when a tip, originally reported to Minneapolis police, came in from a citizen concerned there may be illegal activities, possibly prostitution, occurring at the Woodbury massage parlor, the criminal complaint states.

Minneapolis police informed Woodbury police of the tip and from there Woodbury police conducted an undercover investigation of the business.

As part of the investigation, undercover Woodbury police officers visited the business and paid money for massage and spa services.

"During these encounters, employees engaged in sexual contact with the undercover officers in consideration for money," the criminal complaint states.

On Thursday, Oct. 29, Woodbury police officers executed a search warrant on the business.

During the search officers made contact with a female employee, Li Hue Wang, who told officers she gave massages to customers and was paid for the services. Wang told officers that often during the massages she engaged in sexual contact with the customers and received payment and "tips" in consideration for the sexual contact which involved her touching male customers directly on their genitalia.

The Woodbury Public Safety Department will attempt to take steps to close the business, said Woodbury Police Capt. Kris Mienert.

"We still have to piece together all who was involved," Mienert said.

The owner of the spa business could not be reached for comment. Phone calls to the business went unanswered.

On Friday, a "closed" sign was posted at the front door of the business, located in a small strip mall. An employee at the neighboring Greater American Ribs business said the owner of Eastern Massage and Spa called her Friday morning and asked her to post the "closed" sign for him, but she said she did not know anything else about the arrests.

An employee at Classic Pizza, next door to Eastern Massage and Spa, said he saw the arrest scene unfold. He said about a half dozen Woodbury police officers and an ICE agent pulled up to the front of the building and some time later arrested two women and a man.

City attorney Mark Vierling could not be reached for comment before deadline.