A federal grand jury in the District of Nebraska has returned two indictments charging four individuals in connection with the operation of various “spas” in Omaha. According to the indictments, all four individuals were involved in operating spas under various names at different locations in Omaha, all of which were alleged fronts for prostitution. The indictments allege that the individuals conducted an interstate prostitution operation by using various facilities of interstate commerce to run their businesses and, in so doing, attracted clients from both Nebraska and other states.
William R. Knox is alleged during certain time periods to have operated a spa business himself or through managers. Knox is alleged during other time periods to have entered business sublease or purchase arrangements with others, under which the sublessor or purchaser paid Knox a weekly fee in exchange for the opportunity to operate the ongoing spa business on the premises.
Tammy L. Schuck is alleged to have operated a spa business under a sublease with Knox and to have thereafter opened and operated two other spas. Tabatha N. Ashburn is alleged to have managed and operated the spas. Christopher J. Tierney is alleged to have provided computer and electronic services for the spas, including setting up a website and creating a computerized record keeping system.
Knox’s indictment charges him with inducement of another to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct (18 U.S.C. § 2422), use of facilities in interstate commerce in aid of racketeering enterprises (18 U.S.C. § 1952), money laundering, and conspiracy. The others indicted are facing similar charges.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 2422, a person can be charged with knowingly coercing or inducing others to travel across state lines in order to engage in prostitution or other illicit sexual acts. This enables the U.S. government to charge an individual with a federal crime without actually identifying those who were coerced or induced. Further, if there is any type of business linked to criminal acts, it can be construed as racketeering. Racketeering and money laundering typically go hand in hand, and as with any business, the paper trail may give away the illicit activity.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or email@example.com.