According to the authorities, earlier this spring both the Cedar Grove police and the prosecutor’s office got complaints about possible prostitution at the four businesses. They opened an investigation, which eventually drew in detectives from Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties as well. Yesterday’s raids took place at Zen Massage and Therapy, 908-B1 Pompton Avenue; Spa Oasis, 412 Pompton Avenue; Angel Spa, 569B Pompton Avenue; Michelle Nails & Spa, 1064 Pompton Avenue.
A statement from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said that Yu Lanni, age 42, was arrested at Zen Massage and Therapy. At Spa Oasis, detectives arrested Neilan Xu, age 49. Xianyu Jin, age 40, was arrested at Angel Spa. At Michelle Spa, detectives arrested Jaeryeong Kimnam, age 45, and Fenyu Piao, age 41. The women are all from Queens, New York.
All five women were charged with engaging in prostitution, according to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas S. Fennelly of the prosecutor’s office’s Major Crimes Unit. All five were released on their own recognizance, but eceived summonses to appear in Cedar Grove municipal court. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray praised the work of the detectives from Cedar Grove, and the Bergen, Hudson and Passaic county agencies, as well as the detectives and assistant prosecutors from her office, who worked on the investigation.
Cedar Grove has been wrangling with its massage businesses for some time. In 2011, its town council enacted an ordinance to regulate massage parlors. Among the 11 pages of rules it imposed was a provision that employees of massage businesses must wear “nontransparent” outer garments. Verona does not have an ordinance regulating massage businesses.
Verona resident Elizabeth Santeremo welcomed the news of the bust. “I started working on this issue almost four years ago, raising awareness locally around trafficked girls working in such parlors via the League of Women Voters of the Montclair Area. I am overcome with joy and relief. At last, these women will be free to enjoy the chance of really living the American dream and not the American nightmare they were forced into.”