Authorities expand prostitution ring probe in Bridgeville
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Police in Bridgeville want to know whether the owner of a building they say was used for prostitution knew what was going on one floor below his business, Greentree Investment Services.
Bridgeville officers and the FBI raided Spa 88 on Tuesday after a 14-month investigation and arrested three women on prostitution charges.
Federal authorities are examining whether the business was part of a human-trafficking operation.
The owner of the building is Kevin Biber, whose office is on the second floor above the spa at 600 Washington Ave.
Bridgeville police Chief Chad King spoke with Mr. Biber, who serves as the South Fayette tax collector, on Wednesday and said he denied knowing that men were being serviced by prostitutes on the first floor.
Customers entered the massage parlor from an alley behind the building, a separate entrance from the business. But the chief said it is hard to believe that anyone would not have realized the nature of the spa's services.
"Let's put it this way," he said. "If there were 30 people in that building, 29 of them knew what was going on."
But he said Mr. Biber has cooperated with police in turning over his rental records for Spa 88, and he said Mr. Biber has indicated he will seek an eviction notice.
"He sees it my way," Chief King said. "He's provided us with some valuable information."
Mr. Biber did not return a message.
Officers began investigating, developing the case from informants and customers, online customer reviews and other sources. In July, police asked the Pittsburgh FBI for help.
The FBI is examining whether Spa 88 was part of a larger network and whether the women -- Ok Ja Ko, 52, Chong Hee Kil, 57, and Heemae Jeong, 58 -- were forced to work there.
Chief King said he has no evidence of human trafficking, however, and said it appears the women worked of their own volition, moving around the country. Ms. Ko is from Colorado, Ms. Kil from Illinois and Ms. Jeong from New Jersey.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is also investigating their residency status.
All three were released on bond from the Allegheny County Jail on Wednesday and face a preliminary hearing next week.
"The big question is, will they show up?" Chief King said.
His officers confiscated almost everything from the spa.
"But they'll probably bug out of town," he said, "and set up somewhere else."
First Published February 7, 2013 12:00 am