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Prostitution Concerns Lead to Police Operation

Oriental Body Work employee charged with working as a masseuse without a license

Amidst much controversy and a great deal of concern regarding prostitution rumors, a woman was arrested last Thursday, March 8, at Oriental Body Work in Cuttermill Plaza, one of the shops at 25 Cuttermill Road in Great Neck Plaza. Yuan Pang of Flushing was arrested by the Nassau County Narcotics and Vice Squad officers and charged with “unauthorized practice of a crime,” according to Nassau County Police Public Information Officer James Imperiale. Officer Imperiale said the woman was performing “massage therapy without a license.” She was arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead the following day, Friday, March 9.

Scott Zimmerman, owner of a neighboring beauty salon business, Aura Salon, told the Great Neck Record that members of his staff reported that a few women were taken away by the police, but the police report indicated that only one woman was arrested. Mr. Zimmerman spoke of  “persistent rumors” surrounding activity at Oriental Body Work.

No other surrounding businesses reported that their office workers witnessed the arrest.

The Great Neck Record office is three storefronts from Oriental Body Work and though the business was open the day of the arrest, it appeared closed several times over the next few days. When the Record attempted to speak to a woman in the store, she responded that she did not speak English; when asked if the owner could be interviewed, the woman went outside, appeared to look up and down the street, and then said the owner wasn’t around. The owner did not appear that day nor any of the following days. Attempts to phone Oriental Body Work produced basically the same “no response” answers the few times someone answered the telephone.

Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender acknowledged the issues regarding massage service businesses in the Plaza and verified the arrest report. She told the Record that in the past 10 years the village’s board of trustees has approved permits for close to two dozen businesses that perform massage therapy, reflexology and therapeutic services, and more applications keep coming. And with this growing number of such places, Mayor Celender said that “With the growing number of businesses the board began to take a closer look and realized that we have a lot of these places operating here … we question the large number of these types of facilities and the potential deleterious effect on surrounding businesses.” She added that the village “questions the large number of these types of facilities and the potential deleterious effect on surrounding businesses … when there’s redundancy in the mix of retail stores, if continued, unabated, it can diminish the ability to attract a healthy mix of stores and other types of complementary retail uses in the downtown.”

And, in addition, Mayor Celender noted the number of complaints from residents “about the nature of the operations in several of the existing massage parlors, e.g. illegal sexual services being offered and performed.” The mayor has passed those complaints on to the Nassau County Police’s Sixth Precinct for “surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of potential illegal operations” and she has requested assistance from the county police’s Narcotics/Vice Squad from police headquarters.

Mayor Celender told the Record that she and her board of trustees are being “proactive” and taking the following steps; reviewing and considering changes to the village code related to conditional use permit procedures for massage therapy services; considering the option of an eight-month moratorium to study the matter, and craft/adopt revisions to the code; and meet with the county police department to understand how the village can work cooperative with the police to “flush out the undesirable, and potential illegal operations, and learn from their experiences to strengthen our review procedures and incorporate new, recommended conditions to be adopted on future conditional use permit approvals for greater local control and monitoring.”

Mayor Celender is continuing with the village’s “multi-faceted action plan to address problems it has encountered related to massage service businesses operating in the Plaza.” The mayor stated: “We appreciate the decisive action, professionalism and aid of the detective unit of the Nassau County Police Department’s Narcotics Vice Squad. They quickly acted upon our reporting of the problem and issues, and have provided us with constructive advice based upon their investigations of these operations throughout Nassau County.  The recent arrests in Great Neck Plaza confirm that we are on the right track to vigorously go after and investigate unlawful practices, including unlicensed massage operators, as well as investigations of other vice related activities.”

A telephone call to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office provided no further details at press time.

Two other Great Neck villages also have business districts, but neither reported any of the Plaza’s massage therapy business concerns. Great Neck Estates Mayor David Fox, with a very small business district, told the Record that he has not heard any complaints. Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said that there are spas in the Old Village but he has not had any complaints either.