Massage parlor owner indicted for human trafficking - Eagle-Tribune: Local News

Massage parlor owner indicted for human trafficking

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Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 12:05 am

SALEM, Mass. — An Essex County grand jury indicted Lori Ann Barron, 50, of Salem, N.H., yesterday on three counts of human trafficking, maintaining a house of prostitution, deriving support from prostitution, witness intimidation, and videotaping unsuspecting nude persons, the office of District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.

Barron is accused of operating a “day spa” for men in Lawrence in which she allegedly videotaped women performing sexual acts in order to prevent them from quitting their jobs and going to police.

She was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on June 11, 2013. Judge Mark Sullivan set her bail at $30,000. An arraignment date in Salem Superior Court has not been scheduled.

The investigation of Barron’s “spa,” its operations and clientele remain under investigation. Human trafficking carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years in state prison.

Police believe her client list contains at least 1,000 names, and potentially as many as 2,000, according to information collected by Lawrence and state police from Barron’s records.

Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said his officers are going through the names, retrieved from computers and cell phones seized earlier this month from Barron’s “The Day Spa for Gentlemen” on Broadway, and matching them with the people to whom they belong.

“The client list appears to be at least 1,000,” Romero said yesterday. “That could go much higher.”

Romero said police are sifting through the list, which includes “common names” that will require more investigation and corroboration before police can be sure they are identifying the right people.

Records seized from Barron’s business at 7 Broadway, in which police said she operated a prostitution operation, and retrieved from her electronic devices provide enough detail that police can hone in on the identities of customers with common names, though Romero declined to be specific.

“There is considerable information regarding this. We have a lot to work with,” he said.

Any determination about whether to prosecute any of the people who allegedly paid for sex at The Day Spa for Gentlemen would be made by the district attorney, he said.

Anthony Ortiz, Barron’s attorney, did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday afternoon.

No specific names have been released but police have said among those frequenting Barron’s spa included a Methuen police officer, Methuen firefighters, a Haverhill city councilor, Lawrence and Amesbury teachers, lawyers and court workers, according to police reports.

Barron, 50, of Salem, N.H., was arrested at her home June 10, the culmination of an investigation that began in March after an employee reported Barron assaulted her for refusing to allow a client to spank her, police said.

They said Barron used her spa to offer sexual services performed by employees recruited as receptionists and blackmailed her employees with videotapes she secretly took of them performing sex acts on customers.

Barron, a married mother of two college-age daughters, was charged with felony counts of human trafficking, maintaining a house of prostitution, deriving support from prostitution, unlawful wiretapping, extortion and photographing unsuspecting nude persons.

She initially set up her business at 599 Canal St., but later moved to the Broadway location, police said. Romero said yesterday it is unclear how long she has operated the business.

On May 16, 2011, Barron was caught in a Salem, N.H. investigation dubbed “Operation Bunny Ranch.” Then the owner of ETEA Weight Loss Spa at 282 Main St., Salem, she was charged with two counts of prostitution, obscene matter and simple assault. Less than a month later, she pleaded guilty to obscene matter and simple assault. The two prostitution charges were not prosecuted.

She was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended for 12 months with good behavior. She agreed to “relinquish her massage therapist’s license and shall not open or manage a massage therapists business in Salem, N.H. for 10 years,” according to court papers. She was also fined $310, which was immediately paid.

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