Ex-Fuji owner ‘never thought’ she’d be caught
A 60-year-old woman whose prostitution business managed to fly under the radar of police for 14 years told investigators she was “quite comfortable” in Grand Junction and had planned on retiring in 2008, when authorities finally shut down Fuji Oriental Massage Therapy in November that year.
“(Nan O’Reilly) indicated that she had made a lot of money in the Grand Junction, Colorado, area and never thought that the Grand Junction police would have been the ones to take all this from her,” reads an interview with O’Reilly, which happened March 5 in Denver in the presence of law enforcement and her attorney. O’Reilly’s five-plus-hour statement to law enforcement outlines 33 years in the massage industry and a journey that started in 1970 at a U.S. military base in South Korea.
The former owner of Fuji Massage, 762 Horizon Drive, O’Reilly was sentenced Thursday to six years of probation and will pay fines and court costs totaling just over $90,000.
District Judge Valerie Robison also admonished O’Reilly to not use marijuana while serving probation, which she may serve in Colorado Springs.
O’Reilly tested positive for marijuana in a urine sample provided to Mesa County Probation officials Jan. 5, the same day she pleaded guilty to felony counts of pimping and tax evasion.
According to testimony Thursday, O’Reilly applied for a medical marijuana card three days after she provided her “hot” urine sample. The judge seized on that information in handing down a fine of $65,000, saying O’Reilly’s sole income for the better part of three decades has been from prostitution.
“You’ve continued to engage in illegal activities in some form or another,” Robison said.
As a condition of her plea agreement, O’Reilly had been ordered to give a “full and honest elocution,” or an interview detailing her past in Grand Junction and beyond. Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told the judge he believes O’Reilly met that obligation.
A SMALL-TOWN ATMOSPHERE
A waitress at a snack bar in South Korea, O’Reilly at age 20 married a U.S. serviceman in 1970 and moved to the United States three years later when her husband was transferred to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. She soon divorced, relinquished custody of her two children to her husband and moved to Michigan.
“Not making enough money washing dishes and waiting tables,” O’Reilly told investigators about going to work in 1977 for a Detroit-area massage parlor, where she learned the business.
“She was shown how to give a good massage as well as have the customer ask for sexual services during and/or after the massage occurred,” reads the summary of O’Reilly’s interview.
Paid $140 weekly, she didn’t get a cut of the profits from actual sex acts, she said.
“... (O’Reilly) informed me she was young and naive at the time and was in no position to question the owner/operator of the establishment, saying, ‘This is how it worked in Michigan,’” reads the interview.
She was arrested for prostitution at a Colorado Springs parlor in 1979, then opened her own parlor in Southfield, Mich., in 1989, but it was shut down by authorities after a series of raids in 1991.
Living off roughly $50,000 in savings from her defunct business, O’Reilly said she looked back to Colorado to open another massage parlor in 1994.
“She indicated that she had looked in the Western Slope area, particularly Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction,” the interview reads.
A building on Horizon Drive caught her attention, which she believed to be a prime location close “to the airport and the highway.”
“When O’Reilly was asked by DA Rubinstein if she had specifically intended for the business to be opened up for the purpose of prostitution, O’Reilly had indicated ‘yes,’” reads the interview.
The business was intentionally slow in offering prostitution because of Grand Junction’s “small-town atmosphere,” she told investigators.
“She did not deny offering prostitution services to certain clients. She just indicated that those types of services were limited and/or selective for the first three years,” the interview reads.
“She would try and get a good read on a customer, asking if they were from out of town, where they worked, if they were married, etc. She usually provided prostitution services to clients that flew into town and were not locals; this was done in an effort to avoid law enforcement attention and/or attention from the community.”
By 1997, the business was offering regular sexual intercourse, among a list of paid services, O’Reilly said.
She said she had two to three girls working for her at a given time. O’Reilly paid the girls 50 percent of what each made daily, and she would keep the rest for herself.
O’Reilly said she kept a ledger where each girl was responsible for recording their daily earnings.
“O’Reilly indicated that the girls would pay her $2,000 a month for payroll and taxes, and she would write a check back to them for an amount less the taxes,” the interview reads. “It was basically a front to the IRS posing as though taxes were being collected and paid.”
Rubinstein told the judge Thursday that the investigation found no evidence of human trafficking or employees kept against their will at the business. O’Reilly said some of the girls lived with her at her former condo on Lakeside Drive, but they usually stayed at the business because it was easier for them “to get ready for the day.”
At its traceable peak, the business was clearing $46,000 per month, Rubinstein told the judge.
“That increased during the time of the energy boom,” he said.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST COLLEAGUE
Stephen Laiche, O’Reilly’s attorney, told the judge that his own investigation showed that his client’s former colleague, 55-year-old Suk Young Yu, continued to operate an alleged massage parlor in Jackson, Miss., after Yu’s arrest related to Fuji’s former activities.
Laiche said Yu’s alleged enterprise has since been shut down by authorities there.
Yu was sentenced in February to three years probation and received a three-year deferred judgment after pleading guilty to filing a false tax return and a misdemeanor charge of keeping a place of prostitution.
Authorities cited Yu’s cooperation with the investigation, in addition to her minimal role in the day-to-day operations of the business, in offering the deferred judgment.
“I don’t know what Yu has or has not done since her case began,” Robison said Thursday, indicating she had no such information at the time of Yu’s sentencing.
In her interview with authorities, O’Reilly alleged Yu had purchased a business in Illinois that O’Reilly suggested was involved in prostitution.
Yu has not been charged in connection with any alleged prostitution activities since authorities raided Fuji Massage in November 2008.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, declined comment on the allegations.