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San Francisco Bay Area community news

Police uncover prostitution at massage business

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
November 3, 2005

Allegations of prostitution have cropped up at an acupuncture clinic in San Carlos, where massage-permit regulations are more lenient than in neighboring Peninsula cities.

The doors were locked yesterday at the Evergreen Healing Care Center, located at 538A El Camino Real, where a sign explained the business was closed for a week’s vacation. A row of Chinese medicines and products lined the windows, which were otherwise blocked by Venetian blinds.

Police began their investigation of the business this summer after it was mentioned on http://www.myredbook.com, a Web site that advertises escort services. The site contained “messages indicating that prostitution activity was occurring at the business,” according to a search warrant from the San Carlos Police Department.

Officers watched Evergreen between July 29 and Aug. 5 and observed a number of men patronizing the business. On Aug. 31, an undercover officer was sent into the business, where he paid $60 after being solicited for “an act of prostitution,” said San Carlos Sgt. Doug Eckles.

Three employees there were arrested and later released, according to Eckles. They have not been formally charged, and detectives are still wrapping up their investigation.

“We are still trying to confirm ownership,” Eckles said. Once the investigation is complete, it will be up to the District Attorney”s office whether to file charges.

As Peninsula cities revise laws governing who is allowed to operate massage and bodywork businesses, San Carlos’s code remains relatively lenient. Although it does require a permit application and a police background check, it doesn’t require applicants to prove they have completed a certain number of hours of instruction.

Most cities in the Bay Area require massage practitioners to have 500 hours of training before they can obtain a permit to do business. But in Redwood City, for example, masseuses only need 70 hours under their belt.

“When one city has a lower standard than another, you will sometimes become the path of least resistance,” Redwood City police Sgt. Keith Harper, who handles the bulk of the city’s massage permits, told the Daily News in August.

So far, San Carlos’s relative leniency hasn’t caused much trouble — Evergreen is the first business to raise these kinds of questions, Eckles said.

A business permit for the Evergreen Healing Care Center was issued Jan. 28, 2005, to Jiang Yuhong of Foster City, according to San Carlos City Clerk Christine Boland. Yuhong obtained a license to operate a Chinese medical facility to offer acupuncture and acupressure, but not massage.

One June 22, a new permit of the same type was issued to Stanley Young, also of Foster City, and on June 30 a new application was filed with the Planning Department. That application has not yet been approved.

Young could not be reached for comment yesterday.

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

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Written by Beth Winegarner

November 3, 2005 at 9:19 PM

Posted in Crime, San Carlos

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