For ex-Fuji customers, it’s call cops or be called
Grand Junction police Tuesday said they have identifying information for “at least 1,000” local residents who were customers at a massage parlor that police allege was a prostitution business.
And they had a blunt message for those past customers of Fuji Oriental Massage, 762 Horizon Drive: Call us before we call you.
Authorities have established a 24-hour hotline in which callers are asked to leave a message identifying themselves at 970-244-3777. It is a “discreet and painless” way to come forward, police said in a news release.
But for those who do not call the hotline, “We will be contacting them at their homes or places of work,” the news release said.
Seeing that caveat as a veiled threat, the attorney for Fuji owner Nan O’Reilly questioned the legality and ethics of police’s solicitation.
“We’re going to threaten your job, your family, if you exercise your personal right not to talk to police?” defense attorney Stephen Laiche asked Tuesday. “And how many law enforcement hours are we going to expend to contact 1,000 people?”
Mesa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein defended the approach, saying,
“I don’t think it is an implied threat as much as an offer to allow people to be as discreet as they would like to be.”
The District Attorney’s Office does not intend to charge “cooperating customers,” according to the release.
But for those who don’t respond to the hotline and refuse to cooperate with investigators?
“Then we’ll have to evaluate the situation at that point,” Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras said.
O’Reilly, 58, Fuji Oriental Massage’s owner of 14 years, was arrested in November after a 10-month police investigation and was charged with several felonies, including racketeering, pimping and filing a false tax return. She also faces misdemeanor charges of keeping a place of prostitution, promoting sexual immorality and pandering.
O’Reilly is scheduled to return to court May 14.
Porras said Tuesday’s move represented a “next step” in the investigation, while the Police Department is considering taking out classified advertisements with local media, seeking contact with former Fuji customers.
Rubinstein said the investigation has turned up thousands of credit card transactions showing the purchase of various sex acts.
Fuji Oriental Massage also accepted cash, authorities said.