Manager charged in alleged Grants Pass massage parlor prostitution ring
A Grants Pass woman is facing a felony prostitution charge accusing her of running an illicit massage business in Northeast Grants Pass.
The Josephine County District Attorney’s Office charged Wei Zhang, 58, with a single felony count of promoting prostitution, accusing her of operating and maintaining “a prostitution enterprise” at Silk Road Massage in Grants Pass for more than two and a half years, according to documents filed Monday in Josephine County Circuit Court.
Between February 2019 and October of this year, prosecutors and Grants Pass police allege that Wei "owned, controlled, supervised and/or maintained a place of prostitution“ by running an ”illicit massage establishment," according to an affidavit filed by police in Zhang’s case.
Police claim that Zhang caused “several females to engage in prostitution,“ and that she took a cut of money for sexual acts at the parlor in the 1500 block of Northeast Seventh Street.
“Under Wei’s control, female employees received money for sexual acts and shared the proceeds of said money with Wei,” the Grants Pass police affidavit states.
Zhang was among several arrests made Thursday during a raid involving multiple police task forces that included resources from Grants Pass police, Medford police the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and federal investigators, according to a release issued Friday by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Zhang was booked Thursday in the Josephine County Jail and released Friday after posting 10% bond $of her 25,000 bail, jail and court records show.
A suspect identified as Kul Assavaphoom, 41, of Grants Pass, was cited and released on a misdemeanor prostitution charge, but as of Monday had not yet been charged in Josephine County Circuit Court.
A man who identified himself as Assavaphoom’s husband, Tracy Thompson, vehemently denied any wrongdoing in a phone interview with the Mail Tribune.
Thompson claimed that his wife, who was born in Thailand and first learned therapeutic massage from a Buddhist temple, and described her as a “very conservative, never-do-anything-wrong type of person” who spent years undergoing background checks to obtain a green card.
“It just flies in the face of reason that she would jeopardize that,” he said. “That just doesn’t make sense.”
Thompson claimed that an undercover officer from Jackson County had posed as a customer and tried to turn over about halfway into a scheduled 40-minute shoulder massage, gestured toward his thigh and abdomen and asked about his tip.
She claims she never touched that man inappropriately, nor anyone else, according to a letter to Josephine County District Attorney Josh Eastman.
“Despite the false accusation against me, at no time did I ever engage in any sexual activity, and I have no knowledge of any such activity at the shop,” Assavaphoom’s letter states.
When asked if others may have been involved in illicit massage practices at the parlor, Thompson claimed that his wife was applying for other spas because of the “low class” clientele who frequently propositioned her.
“She was frequently propositioned — that’s one of the reasons she was looking for a different spa,” he said. “I know that’s not her style.”
An alleged customer identified as Yhang Zhao, 52, was arrested on a U.S. Marshal’s warrant issued out of Virginia, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
A search for Zhao through Virginia’s eastern and western district courts yielded no results.
Police say that the business was owned by a Min Zhang, 48, of Grants Pass, who as of Monday has not been charged with a crime.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s business registry lists Min Zhang as the registered agent of “Silk Road Massage LLC“ since March of this year. The registry shows that the Grants Pass business has had multiple registered agents since it was incorporated in June 2019.
The articles of incorporation were organized by Theodore James Scuitto, who transferred the registered agent in June 2020 to owner Jing Gao.
Jing Gao filed the change listing Min Zhang as the registered agent on March 31, business registry filings show.