Originally created 08/24/02

Spa stings lead to eight arrests



Three local spas remained closed Friday after Richmond County vice officers arrested several people on charges of prostitution Thursday night.

Police, responding to multiple complaints, sent undercover officers to three spas Thursday - Sun Spa on Wylds Road, Peach Spa on Deans Bridge Road and Our Place Too on Washington Road, said Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Richard Elim.

"There are a lot of legal places to get a massage in Richmond County," he said. "But if you do anything wrong, your intelligence sources are going to tell you."

During the operations, officers were propositioned with a massage and sex for between $100 and $150, Investigator Elim said. Vice officers, along with the Crime Suppression Team, entered the businesses once the transactions were made and arrested the suspects, he said.

Our Place Too in the 3300 block of Washington Road was the first target. Manager Yong Sin Anderson, 51, and employee Sun Ok Baker were arrested, Investigator Elim said. Ms. Anderson, of Fayetteville, N.C., was charged with maintaining a house of prostitution, and Ms. Baker, also of Fayetteville was charged with [filtered word] for hire, he said.

Police made three arrests at Peach Spa in the 2600 block of Deans Bridge Road, Investigator Elim said. The owner, Sun Cha McZorn, 61, of Augusta, was charged with maintaining a house of prostitution, he said.

Manager Kyong Cha Smith, 54, also of Augusta, was charged with maintaining a house of prostitution, and employee Mi Na Kim, 28, of Greensboro, N.C., was charged with prostitution, the investigator said.

Investigator Elim said arrests at Sun Spa in the 2800 block of Wylds Road took some time because of the number of customers.

"They had a lot of business," he said. "Our people had to wait for a couple of minutes."

When the crowd cleared, police arrested manager Betty H. Eldridge, 52, of North Augusta, and charged her with maintaining a house of prostitution. Employees Kyong I. Rowland, 46, and Kom Ye Starkweather, 48, both of North Augusta, were charged with prostitution.

Investigator Elim said no weapons were found during the operation, and no customers were charged with a crime. The three businesses have been temporarily closed until a decision is reached by Richmond County commissioners, he said.

"We don't want prostitution in our jurisdiction," Investigator Elim said. "When we find these places ... we're going to do everything we can to put them out of business."

Albert Ross at (706) 823-3339 or albert.ross@augustachronicle.com.