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Two charged after raid on massage parlor

May 23, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Police raided a Hagerstown area massage parlor Tuesday, charging two employees with prostitution.

Deputy Chris Weaver of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said the two-month investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected.

Police started surveillance at Deanna's Massage Therapy and Wellness Center, 13508 Pennsylvania Ave., after receiving complaints that alleged the business was a haven for prostitution, Weaver said.

Police got a search warrant and conducted a search Tuesday afternoon, he said.

Two employees were working at the time, but there were no customers at the business, Weaver said.

Belinda Timberlake, 28, of Hagerstown, and Elizabeth M. Burchfield, 30, of Waynesboro, Pa., each were charged with prostitution and practicing massage therapy without a license, police said.

In Maryland, every massage parlor employee who performs massages must be licensed by the state, police said.

During their investigation, police staked out the business from nearby Gold's Gym and interviewed at least three clients, who admitted to police they had paid for sex, according to charging documents.

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An undercover officer went inside the business on May 2 and paid $60 for a traditional half-hour massage.

Afterward, the masseuse indicated that for $50 he could receive manual sexual stimulation, oral sex for $100 or sexual intercourse for $150, according to allegations in charging documents.

Deanna's has been operating for about three years at that location, which was once a residence, Weaver said.

Weaver said there's been a trend of prostitution operations posing as massage parlors.

"It's kind of like the new way to solicit prostitution," Weaver said.

Frederick, Md., and Montgomery County, Md., each have busted a number of operations.

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