Watch CBS News

Former San Diego detective pleads guilty to operating sex parlors

A former San Diego police detective and three others pleaded guilty to federal charges on Tuesday to operating massage parlors that offered commercial sex services. 

Peter Griffin, 78, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to money laundering, wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to facilitate interstate commerce for businesses involving prostitution, and other crimes in San Diego federal court, the Department of Justice said in a news statement. 

Griffin, a police officer at the San Diego Police Department for 27 years, worked as a detective in the Vice Operations Unit for part of his career, court documents said. His duties as a vice detective included investigating and making arrests associated with illicit massage parlors, court documents said. He then used his insider knowledge to run five massage parlors in California and Arizona, the Department of Justice said. 

After leaving the San Diego Police Department in 2002, Griffin worked as a private investigator until 2013 when he and a partner started managing a massage business called Genie Oriental Spa in San Diego, court documents said. Griffin managed or owned four other massage parlors and advertised "therapeutic services" on websites known to promote commercial sex, according to court documents. 

They also advertised on, a website that provides reviews, locations, and other information on massage parlors that offer commercial sex acts, court documents said. The website no longer has the .com ending and has since changed its address to a server based out of the United States, according to a Google search by CBS News. 

Griffin used these websites and chat applications to find and hire women to perform these sexual acts, court documents said. Griffin and the others leased apartments to the workers and charged them rent, court documents said. 

"The defendant – a former vice detective who once took an oath to uphold our laws – knew more than most that illicit massage businesses cruelly profit by exploiting women for commercial sex," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in a news statement. "We are committed to prosecuting the proprietors of these illegal businesses, and to shining a light on those places where sexual exploitation and trafficking persist."

Request for comment to Griffin's attorney was not returned immediately. 

Griffin faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, the Department of Justice said. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 7 in federal court.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.