A fire alarm check at a Smithtown office building led to the discovery of a massage parlor with 20 violations of town fire code and the arrest of an employee, who faces arraignment this month in First District Court, town officials said.
Peiyu Du, 43, of Flushing, Queens, is to be arraigned in Central Islip on Sept. 29. In addition to the fire code violations, she was charged with obstructing governmental administration and interfering with an emergency responding.
Du worked in a three-room portion of a suite at the Jericho Greens building at 811 West Jericho Tpke., which was allegedly being used as a front for the parlor, according to the Smithtown Department of Public Safety.
On July 19 at around 2 p.m., the Smithtown Fire Department responded to a call at the two-story building, the site of multiple false alarms in the previous weeks. Firefighters found no fire or smoke conditions, said Smithtown public information officer Jeff Bressler.
Fire marshal Timothy Clark noticed suspicious details, including numerous locked entrances, said Kevin McPadden, a deputy chief in the department of public safety.
"When they came upon this particular part of the building, there was something shady going on," McPadden said.
Upon inquiring further, Clark was blocked from entering Suite 102W by Du.
About six to eight patrons and employees, all in various states of undress, darted from the building, said McPadden. An online ad advertised the business as a cash-only "relax spa" featuring young Korean and Japanese women.
"I've owned this building since 2008," said attorney Daniel Conti. "In the previous years up to July, it was pretty smooth."
The parlor was occupying about 500 square feet of the suite's total 4,000 square feet, the rest of which was vacant, added Conti, whose law office is in the building.
Du returned to Jericho Greens, which is near the Developmental Disabilities Institute, on July 30 and was met by fire marshals and issued several summonses, said McPadden.
Jericho Greens has about 10 businesses, including several law offices, an advertising firm and a modeling agency.
Pegi Orsino, the executive director of RSVP Suffolk, a nonprofit that rents space in the building, said she didn't notice any unusual activity. Jericho Greens is a "wonderful professional setting," far from the kind of building you'd expect to find an illegal parlor, she said.
Du was not listed on the lease, said Conti. The rear portion of the suite was rented in November 2014 and was supposed to be a skincare business. The tenant didn't occupy the space for several months, Conti said.
"Not much was going on, so I don't know exactly when they started operating this, I really don't," said Conti. He said the lease has since been terminated. Conti is rectifying the changes made by the parlor's operators, including removing unsanctioned additional electrical sockets and wiring for cameras. He said he hopes to get the space rented soon.The investigation is being handled by the Suffolk County district attorney's office, McPadden said, which declined to comment further on the case.
While the parlor's Smithtown operations may be over, its original advertisement also mentioned other hamlets, including Bohemia and Commack.
"Ads go up and down on a weekly basis," said McPadden. "It's possible they just went to another number and location."