Two women at a village massage parlor have been charged with prostitution and practicing without a license, police said Monday.
The women, who both worked at Mohawk Foot Spa at 208 Mohawk Ave., were arrested Friday after a joint investigation by the Scotia Police Department and state police.
The bust is at least the third in the area involving massage parlors and prostitution allegations. Two women each were arrested in Saratoga Springs and Niskayuna last month.
Scotia Police Chief Peter Frisoni on Monday said police were looking into any connections between the parlors.
“We’re still involved in the investigation with other agencies, trying to establish things,” Frisoni said. “As of now, we haven’t connected them to other salons.”
The Scotia investigation began with reports of possible suspicious activity at the parlor, Frisoni said.
Frisoni said he believed Mohawk Foot Spa has been open since last summer. The storefront was closed Monday, with shades drawn. Christmas lights lining the window remained on. A “grand opening” sign was also in the window.
In each of the cases, the women were charged with felony practicing without a license. The state Department of Education licenses all legitimate massage therapists.
Frisoni said investigators found advertising for the spa online at an “adult services” section of one site.
“They didn’t come right out and advertise anything illegal,” Frisoni said, “but many times you can do the math and figure out that something’s not quite right.”
Charged in the Scotia case are Feng Zhao, 49, and Li Fang, 50, both of Flushing, Queens. They each face one count of misdemeanor prostitution.
Both women also face a charge of unauthorized practice of a profession, a felony, for allegedly providing massages without a license.
The women were arraigned in Scotia Village Court and ordered held on $10,000 bail.
Last month, Saratoga Springs police arrested two women on similar charges. Guirong Peng, 50, and Fengxiang Bai, 48, both of Flushing, were charged with unauthorized practice, a felony. Peng also was charged with misdemeanor prostitution.
Also last month, Niskayuna police and state police arrested Xiu Ling Qi, 45, of Schenectady, for allegedly practicing without a proper license, a felony, and misdemeanor prostitution, while Feng Ying Wang, 47, also of Schenectady, was charged with a felony licensing violation.
Finding out how the women got here can be difficult, Frisoni said. Women arrested in similar cases elsewhere are often uncooperative.
Such cases can often be part of a larger network of sex trafficking, the Scotia chief said.
“Sex trafficking is unfortunately a very big business right now,” he said.
According to the state Department of Education, licensed therapists complete a full training program, including multiple courses on everything from anatomy to infection control procedures. They also pass a licensing exam.
Licensed massage therapists also must display their current state registration certificate and must re-register every three years.