LAWRENCE — No specific names have been released but police are saying among those frequenting a house of prostitution on Broadway include police officers, firefighters, teachers and a city councilor.
Prosecutors gave a general overview of clientele at this morning's arraignment of accused madam Lori Barron, 50, of Salem, N.H. Prosecutors did not reveal the names or the communities where these public servants reside or work.
Barron is accused of blackmailing her employees with videotapes she secretly took of them performing sex acts on customers at a so-called massage parlor called "The Day Spa for Gentlemen." Four of her employees were interviewed by police prior to the arrest warrant being sought.
Barron was arraigned this morning on felony charges of maintaining a house of prostitution, deriving support from prostitution, unlawful wiretapping, extortion and photographing unsuspecting nude persons. This morning, prior to her arraignment, investigators brought an additional charge of human trafficking against her.
Prosecutors asked for the married mother of two to be held on $50,000 cash bail. She was ordered held on $30,000 cash bail and to stay away from the victims. Police seized from her a laptop, two cell phones and a day planner.
Police said she regularly advertised on the web for "receptionists," and would then promote the women to "massage therapists." Prosecutors said she kept them working, even if they didn't want to, by providing cash bonuses. The employees were required to perform oral and manual sex, but if they wanted to take it further for more money, it was up to the employee, prosecutors said.
While the women were working on the customers, a guard would run outside and record the license plates of clients, prosecutors said.
Police said Barron videotaped customers in various sexual acts with women working in the massage parlor. Police have the names of some of the people videotaped but were not releasing them.
Yesterday, detectives searched Barron’s home and the business at 7 Broadway, seizing documents and computers, police said.
Police received information last Wednesday that Barron’s employees and clients “were engaging in more than just massage,” police Chief John Romero said.
Through numerous interviews, detectives learned Barron had women working in the massage parlor seven days per week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., police said. The women employed were not trained or licensed to perform massage, police said.
When clients came to the spa, they placed $100 cash in a basket Barron controlled, police said. In order to obtain sexual services, they had to pay another $100, a cut of which would be given to the worker involved, police said.
During a visit to the spa, Barron would also take the client’s identification and record who they were, police said. She routinely asked clients and those who called to book appointments if they were “affiliated with law enforcement,” according to investigators.
Police said Barron routinely hired women to work in the spa, first using them as receptionists and later moving them to jobs where they engaged in sexual acts with customers.
“They were advised they could make more money,” Romero said of the women offering sexual acts.
Barron paid her employees in cash and did not have employees fill out any tax paperwork, police said.
Barron initially set up her business at 599 Canal St., but later moved to the 7 Broadway location, police said. They said it’s unclear how long she has operated the business or how many clients were serviced there.
Barron was arrested yesterday in Salem, N.H., on a fugitive from justice charge. She waived extradition at her arraignment in Salem District Court and was immediately taken into custody by Lawrence police. Her attorney Thomas Torrisi declined comment after the arraignment.
In May 2011, Barron was convicted after she and another woman were arrested in Salem, N.H., investigation dubbed “Operation Bunny Ranch.”
Barron, then the owner of ETEA Weight Loss Spa at 282 Main St., was charged with felony and misdemeanor prostitution. An employee, Susan Choi, 29, of Derry, was charged with misdemeanor prostitution. Police raided that spa after receiving reports that sexual conduct was taking place at the end of massages at the spa. The massages were being performed by untrained and unlicensed masseuses after advertisements were placed on Craigslist.org and other classified advertising sites, investigators said.
During booking in Lawrence yesterday, Barron told police she was married. She said she was self employed as a business consultant.