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Massage parlor's permit application questionable


Jan. 10, 2013
<b>Korean Massage Therapy Center, which has been tied to allegations of prostitution and illegal immigration, submitted an application for a special permit in accordance with a new bylaw aimed at shutting them down.</b> <br>Reminder Publications file photo

Korean Massage Therapy Center, which has been tied to allegations of prostitution and illegal immigration, submitted an application for a special permit in accordance with a new bylaw aimed at shutting them down.
Reminder Publications file photo

By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

EAST LONGMEADOW — The deadline for massage businesses currently operating in East Longmeadow to apply for a special permit in accordance with a new town bylaw has passed and the embattled Korean Massage Therapy Center is among those who made the deadline.

Korean Massage, located at 611 North Main St., has been subject to three separate police actions since 2009, resulting in the discovery of evidence of the business being in violation of licensing laws, as well as promoting prostitution and illegal immigration.

A basic Internet search showed Korean Massage listed as one of 100 erotic massage parlors in Massachusetts on www.eroticmp.com, a website that charges up to $24.99 per month to provide members with information on such establishments, including the specific services they provide and the forms of payment they accept.

East Longmeadow Police Sgt. Patrick Manley reported previously that during two of three undercover operations, police officers were offered sexual acts in exchange for money. Police also found during stings that employees were often illegal immigrants who were not licensed to perform massage therapy.

The massage parlor's alleged illegal operations are what prompted the drafting of a new bylaw requiring a special permit, which was ratified at the May 21, 2012 Annual Town Meeting and approved by the Attorney General's Office in the fall.

While the application was delivered on time, there are several issues regarding the business that must be cleared up before any consideration can be given to issuing a permit.

"A lawyer out of Belchertown submitted the paperwork on their behalf," Planning Director Robyn Macdonald told Reminder Publications. "[The owners and massage therapists] have included licenses that have expired and their drivers licenses show that they don't live anywhere near here."

The forms that were to be filled out to obtain a permit required the applicant to provide a state license for a massage therapy salon and photo identification that shows the current residential address of all employees.

Gye-Hwa Shin, listed as the primary applicant, provided paperwork from the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure stating that she received a license for a solo massage establishment, which expires on Dec. 11, at 61 North Main St.

While Macdonald speculated that the wrong address on the license was most likely a typographical error, she said, "That license only allows for one person to perform massage therapy at that location. There can't be more than one therapist working there."

Two massage therapists are listed on the application.

In addition to that discrepancy, Shin, who is listed as one of the therapists, provided a driver's license listing an address in Sterling Heights, Mich. She also provided a massage therapist license with an address in Flushing, N.Y., which expires at the end of January.

The other massage therapist listed on the application, Junghee McLnerney, provided an expired temporary driver's license with an address in Dedham. Also included in the paperwork was a valid massage therapist license for Jung H Cho of the same address in Dedham.

"Obviously there are a lot of things that need to be addressed with this application," Macdonald said.

Board of Public Works member Daniel Burack owns the building in which Korean Massage operates, according to the paperwork. He is not mentioned as having any other ties to the business.

Macdonald said that she expected hearings on special permits to begin at the Planning Board's Feb. 12 meeting.

Once the bylaw was ratified, she sent letters informing the 24 massage therapy businesses in town of the special permit requirement. Two letters were returned undeliverable to her office — "They may not be doing business at that location anymore," she said — and of the 22 that were delivered, all but five submitted applications prior to the deadline.

Missing the deadline does not prevent the business from obtaining a special permit, but it does mean that they will have to pay the full $200 fee for a special permit. Massage businesses that applied for a permit prior to the deadline faced a fee of only $75.

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