More often than not, law enforcement will be outed as criminals themselves. Such a case happened when a former cop pleaded guilty to operating several illegal sex parlors in California and Arizona. Peter Griffin, 78, a former San Diego police officer, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering Act (ITAR) by using facilities in interstate commerce to promote and facilitate businesses involving prostitution and to wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering in San Diego federal court. He and his co-defendants, Kyung Sook Hernandez, 58, Yu Hong Tan, 56, and Yoo Jin Ott, 46, owned and operated Genie Oriental Spa, Felicita Spa, Blue Green Spa, Maple Spa and Massage W Spa, located in the greater San Diego area and Tempe, Arizona, between 2013 and August 2022. Henandez, Tan and Ott each pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony.
Griffin was a 27-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department and worked as a detective in the Vice Operations Unit for part of his career. According to CBS News, “His duties as a vice detective included investigating and making arrests associated with illicit massage parlors, court documents said.” He used his insider knowledge to run five massage parlors after leaving the department in 2002. He worked as a private investigator until 2013, when he and one of his associates started managing a massage business called Genie Oriental Spa in San Diego. He used his expertise “to help the businesses evade law enforcement, thwart regulatory inspections, investigations, and any official action against the businesses, conceal evidence, and maintain a façade of legitimacy,” according to the Department of Justice.
He went on to own or manage four more massage parlors. He advertised their “therapeutic services” on websites known to promote commercial sex, like RubMaps.com, “a website that provides reviews, locations, and other information on massage parlors that offer commercial sex acts.”
Griffin also used these sites ad chat applications to recruit women to perform the sexual acts. The court documents said that Griffin and the others leased apartments to the workers and charged them rent. When one employee initially refused to perform commercial sexual services, one of the defendants instructed her to “leave [her] morals in China” in order to “make the customers happy.”
Griffin faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. His co-defendants are facing three years.