Federal indictments: Lawrence massage parlor operators sold sex, laundered profits

photo by: Nick Gerik

From top, the buildings that house ABC Spa, 1414 W 6th St., Suite 201, and Serenity Health Spa, 2201 W 25th St., Suite M, are pictured Tuesday, June 5, 2018.

Story updated: 6:19 p.m. June 5, 2018

Three Lawrence massage parlors were actually fronts for illegal prostitution enterprises that made millions of dollars, newly unsealed federal indictments allege.

Some of those “mostly cash” business operators had been selling sex since as far back as 2010, according to the indictments.

Operators of the three Lawrence businesses were among five total people charged in related federal grand jury indictments unsealed on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister announced in a news release. The defendants allegedly ran prostitution businesses that generated millions of dollars in revenue they then fraudulently hid.

The accused Lawrence business operators are:

• Weiling Nielsen, 53, and Erik Nielsen, whose age wasn’t provided, operators of Naima Asian Massage and Serenity Health Spa, both in Lawrence, as well as Jasmine Massage in Topeka.

The Nielsens operated Naima Asian Massage from 2010 to 2015 and Serenity Health Spa from 2015 until being indicted, according to the indictment. They operated the Topeka business from 2007 to 2015.

photo by: Nick Gerik

Serenity Health Spa, 2201 W 25th St., Suite M, is pictured Tuesday, June 5, 2018.

They are charged with two counts of conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, five counts of money laundering, and one count of racketeering all stemming from the unlawful prostitution activity.

They allegedly bought and sold California properties worth millions of dollars while falsely representing their occupations to lenders.

On loan applications they said they were managers of a restaurant in Lawrence — indicating on one application that they made a combined $14,000 per month from the restaurant — but the phone number they listed for the restaurant was actually the number for the illegal massage parlor in Topeka, the indictment says. Kansas Department of Revenue records for the restaurant, which isn’t named in the indictment, didn’t report either of them earning wages there.

• Ma Li Vanskike, 67, operator of ABC Massage (formerly Naima Therapy) in Lawrence.

photo by: Nick Gerik

The building that houses ABC Spa, 1414 W 6th St., Suite 201, is pictured Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The business is located upstairs on the north side of a building that also includes a gas station and liquor store near Sixth and Florida streets.

photo by: Nick Gerik

The upstairs entrance to ABC Spa, 1414 W 6th St., Suite 201, is pictured Tuesday, June 5, 2018.

She operated the parlor from 2015 until being indicted and, like the businesses above, did so “mostly on a cash basis,” the indictment says.

Vanskike is charged with one count of interstate racketeering and five counts of money laundering. In an attempt to conceal the illegal prostitution at the massage parlor, she laundered over $1.1 million in cash proceeds between 2014 and 2018 at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City, Mo., the indictment alleges.

A review of Kansas Department of Labor records revealed that the defendant’s only wages were $819 per quarter from a business listed as “KK Spa” in Eudora, the indictment says. It says she and her husband reported adjusted gross income of only about $18,000 to $19,000 per year.

ABC Spa is located at 1414 W. Sixth St., suite 201, and was listed on multiple adult-only online directories. There was no answer Tuesday at a phone number listed for ABC Spa, and a number listed for the former Naima Therapy business did not work.

Serenity Health Spa is located at 2201 W. 25th St., suite M. The Journal-World was not immediately able to find an address or contact information for Naima Asian Massage.

The indictments did not include addresses for any of the massage businesses. It also did not indicate whether the two businesses with “Naima” in the name were at all related.

The FBI investigated the cases with help from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Salina Police Department, McAllister said in the news release. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney is prosecuting.

Also charged in the newly unsealed indictments are Lian Hua Li, 55, and Michael Mills, 61. According to the release they are charged with two counts of conspiracy, two counts of interstate racketeering and four counts of money laundering.

Li allegedly operated Sunflower Massage (formerly Jasmine Massage) in Topeka and S-Therapy in Salina, and Mills worked with her, according to the release.

The indictment alleges Mills transported female sex workers from the airport to massage parlors and helped Li launder cash proceeds from the prostitution. The indictment alleges some of the money was laundered through casinos in Kansas.

Related story

• Jan. 29, 2018 — Without local licensing, advocates say illicit massage parlors continue to ensnare vulnerable youth

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