Depew police and federal agents today raided a massage parlor after an investigation into whether employees were performing massages without a license and engaging in prostitution, The Buffalo News has confirmed.
Police executed a search warrant at Blush Spa, located in a commercial plaza at 6348 Transit Road, Depew, today and officers and agents remained at the scene collecting evidence and interviewing employees with the assistance of a translator, Depew Police Chief Stanley Carwile said. No charges had been filed as of mid-afternoon.
Police first began looking into the activities of Blush Spa in March, though the business apparently opened and closed several times since the spring, Carwile said.
Officials believed the employees were performing massages without a license, a violation of state Education Law, "and we had suspected some prostitution there," the police chief said. The investigation ramped up again about a month ago.
An undercover detective from the Cheektowaga Police Department's Vice, Gambling and Narcotics Unit received a massage from a Blush Spa employee this morning and Depew police obtained and executed a search warrant soon afterward, Cheektowaga Police Lt. Thomas Gerace said in an interview.
Depew police and federal agents are trying to determine whether the women who worked at the business did so willingly, Carwile said. If so, then police would charge them with violating state Education Law.
However, if the women weren't willing participants, then the women would not be charged and federal authorities would pursue human-trafficking charges against the owners of the business, officials said.
Charges against the store's landlord are unlikely unless authorities could prove the building owner knew of and tolerated illegal activity at the massage parlor, Carwile said.
The building at 6348 Transit Road is owned by NMF Rentals LLC, according to Erie County real property records. That business is owned and operated by Nicole Fudoli, the brother of Lancaster Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli. Dino Fudoli previously worked in an office in the building but told The News today he moved out about one year ago. He occasionally dropped in to the office during his campaign for supervisor in 2011.
"It's not my building - there's no connection to me," Dino Fudoli said.