Criminal charges dropped, warning issued to Ankeny massage-parlor owner

By: - September 14, 2022 3:09 pm

Criminal charges have been dropped and a warning issued to an Ankeny massage parlor owner accused of running a prostitution ring out of her business. (Photo by David Fuentes Prieto/Getty Images)

Criminal charges have been dropped and a warning issued to an Ankeny massage parlor owner accused of running a prostitution ring out of her business.

Genzhen You of Ankeny was recently charged by the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy with falsely reporting to the board that she had never been convicted of a crime. According to the board, that charge is based on the fact that You made the claim on her 2015 license application, despite having been previously convicted of an unspecified crime in Texas. Court records indicate You was arrested in Van Zandt County, Texas, at some point in the past, and was charged with prostitution and operation as an unlicensed massage therapist.

The Iowa board also claims that You employed as massage therapists two unlicensed individuals. As part of a settlement agreement with the board, You has agreed to accept a warning and pay a $500 civil penalty.

The licensing board’s case grew out of a separate criminal investigation that Ankeny police launched in September 2021. That investigation was focused on You’s Healthy Spa Massage, located at 107 N.E. Delaware Ave. in Ankeny.

After conducting three months of surveillance on the business, and sending an undercover officer into the establishment, authorities charged You with the aggravated misdemeanor offense of conspiracy in the advertising and service of prostitution and carrying or displaying a dangerous weapon. The weapon in question was a gun which You had a permit to carry and had surrendered to authorities when asked if she was armed, according to police records.

Police and court records indicate Detective Jacob Cusack of the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force had gone into Healthy Spa and paid $60 for a one-hour massage. After 40 minutes, police said, the massage therapist removed the towel from Cusack’s waist, told him to lie on his back, and asked: “I do you? I do you?”

According to defense lawyers, the authorities’ tape of the incident indicates no such verbal offer was made. In court filings, they say the massage therapist can be heard telling Cusack, “Drawers down,” and, after a minute passes, Cusack is heard asking the woman, “Is that extra? Is that extra? Is that extra?” When the therapist indicates there will be no additional charge, the lawyers allege, Cusack tells her he’ll be back on Sunday and is interested in “a good price.” At that point, other officers are heard arriving on the scene and arrests are made.

You’s defense attorney later filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered at You’s residence, arguing that police failed to produce a search warrant despite numerous requests for it. Two days after that motion was filed with the court, Polk County prosecutors agreed to dismiss all charges against You, telling the court the case had triggered “an investigation involving other federal and state agencies,” and so it was declining to prosecute You in the interests of justice.

You then went to court to seek return of the items seized from her home, including her gun, her gun permit and roughly $25,000 in cash. Polk County prosecutors asked for more time to present evidence to support their findings that the property seized should not be returned, but then, according to a judge, they failed to provide any such evidence. The judge ordered the return of the seized items.

Charges were also dismissed against You’s alleged co-conspirator at Healthy Spa Massage, Jingmei Zou, who was accused of prostitution.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.