San Francisco Takes Aim At Brothels Posing As Massage Parlors
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The City Attorney's Office Tuesday announced a settlement shutting down a brothel posing as a massage parlor in San Francisco's Financial District and filed a new lawsuit seeking to close another in the Richmond District.
The settlement announced Tuesday with the landlord and business owner of Queen's Health Center includes an injunction preventing the space from being used as a massage parlor or similar business for at least 10 years and prohibits the owner, Jie Qin Zhou from opening a massage parlor or another personal service business, such as a nail salon, elsewhere in the city.
In addition, Zhou is required to pay $195,000 to the city and Frank B. Lavarone, a trustee for the family trust that own the building, will pay $100,000.
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Herrera first sued Queen's Health Center at 325 Kearny St. in February, alleging it had operated as a brothel since at least 2010. The facility's license was suspended for 60 days in 2016, but an undercover operation conducted after the business reopened found it had resumed illicit
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The center has been closed since shortly after the city lawsuit was filed.
"After Queen's Health Center thumbed its nose at authorities for years, we were finally able to put an end to their rampant violations of the law," Herrera said. "I'm pleased that we reached a settlement that not only shuts their doors for good, but recoups some of the city's enforcement
Herrera said that the women working in places such as the Queen's Health Center are victims of exploitation, and that the city's approach is to hold the business and property owners accountable.
The second lawsuit filed Tuesday names Paradise Health Center at 242 Balboa St., business owners Tian Yi Zhao and Chiu Hung Paul Tam, the family trust that owns the property and trustee Lisa Tang.
The business, located across the street from a preschool, has been the subject of neighborhood complaints for years and was shut down by the health department earlier this year for 60 days, official said.
However, Paradise continued to advertise prostitution on sites such as backpage.com even during its suspension and an undercover raid conducted last month found illegal activities were continuing to occur at the site.
The lawsuit asks the court to close the business, sell off its fixtures, grant an injunction against both the property and business owners and levy monetary penalties.
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