Clients of a spa in Pelham Bay may have been receiving more than a back rub. Prostitution arrests have temporarily shut down a six-month old massage parlor and nail salon.
The 45th Precinct and NYPD Vice Squad arrested employee Hongsim Park at Glow Day Spa, located at 1829 Hobart Avenue, for prostitution and massage without a license on December 9 and again on December 12.
Park allegedly offered to massage the genitals of two undercover police officers for $40. The spa was temporarily closed under the city’s nuisance abatement law, pending investigation. Senator Jeff Klein had called for a police investigation, which NYPD Vice initiated on December 8.
“This is not an isolated incident: this is the fourth so-called spa where this has happened in my district,” Klein said. “I am going to take a look at this matter. There is no automatic trigger in place to revoke a massage license issued by the state Department of Education.”
Klein said that he might look into sponsoring legislation where three offenses at a massage parlor automatically trigger a license revocation by the state agency. Over the past year, Klein has helped close down massage parlors in Waterbury-LaSalle and City Island after prostitution arrests.
The licensee and owner of Glow Day Spa is Jae Soup Kim. Kim surrendered his massage license on Monday, December 28. The Board of Regents may vote to cancel Kim’s license so that he cannot offer massages at his store.
The spa opened about six months ago, replacing a fruit and vegetable store. It will continue to operate as a nail salon, and the NYPD and state Department of Education will continue to monitor its activity.
Longtime Pelham Bay residents were shocked to learn that prostitution was occurring in their community.
“I couldn’t believe this was going on when I heard it,” said Anita Valenti of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association. “This is a family-oriented community with children. It is something that you would not believe would be happening in our neighborhood.”
Equally blindsighted by the vice raid was a merchant located on the Hobart Avenue shopping strip.
“It didn’t look like anything shady was going on,” said Michael DiFigola, owner of Vito’s Men’s Shop at 1825 Hobart Avenue. “I went in there once [to help with garbage removal]. I was amazed with how clean the place was. The floors were done, they had massage cubicles for deep tissue and foot massages, and a beautiful shower in the back.”
DiFigola said that he saw a van dropping off women to work at the Glow Day Spa in the morning, but other than that the owner and workers pretty much kept to themselves inside the store.
“I thought it was legitimate,” he said.
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or email@example.com