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Spa owner pleads guilty in prostitution sting, Cop caught in sting with his pants down

  Sun Sentinel

The Boca Raton business had claimed it provided spa and massage services. But the owner on Tuesday admitted to a judge it was really a place for prostitution.
Speaking through a Mandarin Chinese interpreter, Xiaoqin Li, 52, pleaded guilty to three charges and was sentenced to 10 years probation, including the first nine months to be served in Palm Beach County Jail.

Circuit Judge Jack Cox ordered Li, of Sunny Isles Beach in Miami-Dade County, to surrender on Oct. 12, under the terms of a deal with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office. She'll be placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor for one year upon her release from jail.

Mug shot: Xiaoqin Li

"It's been devastating for her," defense attorney Michael D. Weinstein said of the case against Li's O Asian Wellness Spa and Massage, which operated from a Glades Road office complex near the Town Center at Boca Raton mall.

Related article: How to beat any prositution sting

Had Li gone to trial and been convicted, she faced a minimum of four years and a maximum of 35 years and 60 days in prison. Instead, she agreed to plead guilty to money laundering, and two charges involving prostitution.

Li also agreed to forfeit $190,000 in seized funds from the business, with equal amounts going to the Boca Raton Police Department and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

EDITORS NOTE: Of course any money earned by these women should go to the government since that is what this is really about. Anything they can't tax they make illegal and then divvy up your profits, after leaving you out of work and with no means of support. Forced to take a plea or spend all of your time and money fighting endless legal battles. Most people jump at the plea and then the governments Mafia style shakedown is complete when you agree to give up what you've worked for.

"She maintained a house of prostitution," prosecutor Lawonda Athouriste told Judge Cox, explaining that Li and female employees provided sexual favors for clients.

The judge denied a request by Weinstein for Li to serve the jail portion of her sentence on house arrest. Weinstein contended that Li wanted to be home for her son, who is a high school senior, and noted, "Nobody was hurt in this case."

Related article: Zero Tolerance for Prostitution and Human Trafficking

Li and two employees were arrested June 6, 2014 after a lengthy police investigation. The women were caught on camera accepting payments and providing massages that ended with sex acts, police said.

Investigators had secretly entered the business and installed cameras under a court warrant, according to an arrest report. A complaint filed on Jan. 1, 2012 sparked the investigation.

Between June 5, 2013 and May 20, 2014, police interviewed 12 male customers, with all but one admitting to either engaging in or being offered sexual services at the spa, documents stated.

One of the men caught being pleasured on video in the sting was a Coconut Creek police officer, James Yacobellis. Yacobellis was fired in November, but he avoided criminal prosecution by agreeing to a special court program.

Related article: 1,000 Pimps and Johns Arrested in Nationwide Prostitution Sting

Police also reviewed financial records. A business bank account for the spa, controlled by Li, showed that from June 2012 through November 2013 it took in approximately $200,961, documents show.

Authorities also accused Li of underreporting her wages to the Florida Department of Revenue. Police said she claimed to make about $917 a month between 2012 and 2014 when her income from the business was actually $11,200 a month.

As part of her sentence, Li was forced to surrender her massage license and she will not be permitted to work for a "beauty-related" business in Florida during her probation.

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