The Hopkins City Council on Tuesday permanently revoked the massage licenses for two businesses accused of permitting prostitution and a masseuse accused of engaging in prostitution.
In testimony nearly identical to , Police Chief Reynolds told council members how residents tipped off officers that prostitution was occurring, investigators saw prostitution reviews on websites and police conducted an undercover sting May 1.
The owners of both massage businesses denied that they allowed prostitution to take place. Yu Ying Chen, a Minneapolis resident who owns Yinyin Massage at 901 First St. N., blamed the incident on confusion as she got ready to visit her sick father in China.
She said the masseuse accused of prostitution, Gui Hua Yang, approached her at the beginning of April for a job, saying she had financial difficulties and had experience working in Edina—even though she actually had no license.
When Chen got notice that her father was sick, she offered Yang the job. She said she never physically looked at Yang’s license and that she just assumed the license was in order because Edina has strict massage ordinances. She then left for China on April 22.
“I was kind of shocked myself,” Chen said through an interpreter. “I feel kind of sorry about it. During that day, I wasn’t in the shop and I couldn’t say anything about it.”
Yet council members didn’t feel like that was a sufficient excuse—noting that simply failing to verify a masseuse’s license is sufficient cause for license revocation.
“It’s really the responsibility of the business to double check that,” Mayor Gene Maxwell said.
Hopkins Asian Massage
Wei Pan, a Wayzata resident who owns Hopkins Asian Massage at 1209 Mainstreet, offered a similar explanation of events. She said she, too, traveled to China on April 22—in her case because she had health problems and doesn’t have health insurance. She returned to the United States on May 10.
“I don’t know what to say,” Pan said.
The May 1 sting marked the second time police discovered prostitution at Hopkins Asian Massage in less than a year. Investigators arrested a masseuse on suspicion of prostitution in August in a case that led the council to create requiring licenses for most massage business.
But Pan said she took over the shop in March when she saw it for sale in a newspaper and that she was not the owner at the time of the last prostitution sting.
Yet council also found that Pan’s justifications were insufficient.
None of the business owners have been charged criminally.
Masseuse Yazhi Xiao
Unlike the businesses, Hopkins Asian Massage masseuse Yazhi Xiao denied that prostitution ever took place. During the hearing on whether to revoke her individual license, she said the undercover officer took off his towel at the end of his massage, exposed himself, said something about a tip and made a sexual gesture. When Xiao tried to help him up, officers came in and arrested her, she said.
Charging documents dispute this, saying that Xiao offered to perform manual sex on the officer for an extra $40. In the business, investigators also found a logbook with two columns—one column showing varying amounts and another column with exclusively $40 entries.
Police think the second column notes additional money for prostitution services, although Pan said that was just the amount the masseuses got paid.
Police Sgt. Michael Glassberg also noted that Xiao never offered that explanation after her arrest and that the undercover officer secretly recorded his time in the business. That recording is evidence in the criminal case and was not played during Tuesday’s council hearings.
Council swiftly moved to revoke Xiao’s license.
Xiao, of Wayzata, has been charged with prostitution in a public place, a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $3,000 fine if she’s convicted.
Yang, the Yinyin masseuse, faces the same charge. She was not a part of Tuesday’s hearings because she never obtained a Hopkins license. The city could have also charged Yang with operating without a license but declined to do so since she is already facing a criminal charge.
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