PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
Ex-Dumfries Mayor Charged In Prostitution Investigation
Thursday, July 19, 2007
A 72-year-old former mayor of Dumfries has been charged with running a brothel out of a sports therapy clinic in a roadside strip mall, Prince William County police said yesterday.
Melvin "Mel" Bray, who served as mayor of Dumfries from 2002 to 2006, was charged with "keeping a bawdy place," a misdemeanor. Police arrested eight others on prostitution and other charges after a raid on the clinic Tuesday night. They also seized about $20,000 in cash.
Bray, a former Marine who also has served as a Dumfries Town Council member and a county sheriff's deputy, vigorously denied the "bawdy place" allegation when reached by phone last night.
"I positively swear on a stack of Bibles I would not do that," he said. "I would not stoop to that level and knowingly do something of that nature that would embarrass my family and those people who have supported me over the years."
If prostitution was taking place at his establishment, Bray continued, it was without his knowledge or consent. "I do not believe that it was going on," he said.
Bray, the town's first African American mayor, said he is not trained as a massage therapist. He said he opened Yorkshire Sports Therapy in April after undergoing back surgery because he thought it would be beneficial to others.
"I've never had a massage myself," Bray said. "I guess I should have gone into the bicycle repair business."
Police said the raid was the result of a two-month investigation into the establishment. Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane said additional charges could follow. "The investigation is ongoing," he said.
Dumfries Mayor Fred E. Yohey Jr., who defeated Bray in the 2006 election, said he was shocked by the news of Bray's arrest. "It's kind of a hard to accept, but if he's been arrested for something having to do with prostitution, that's amazing," Yohey said.
"He's innocent until proven guilty," Yohey said, "but I feel sorry for his family."
"It's a shame," said Prince William County Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries). "I've known Mel for years and never would have thought anything like this. Frankly, I'm disappointed, to say the least."
Tucked in a strip mall between Sunny's Flooring and an accounting business on Centreville Road (Route 28) just west of the Fairfax County line, Yorkshire Sports Therapy was locked yesterday afternoon. White curtains were pulled over the windows, and the neon "OPEN" sign was dark.
Five women and three men were arrested on misdemeanor charges that range from prostitution to "frequenting a bawdy place." The women gave their addresses as the Yorkshire Sports Therapy office, where the arrests occurred. Bray said the women -- all Korean nationals -- were employees.
Charged with prostitution were Jung W. Jaebun, 41; Ok Kim, 23; and Mihyante Kwon, age unknown. Two other women, Mison Cattlin, 47, and Hee M. Jeunge, 52, were charged with keeping a bawdy place. The three men arrested were charged with frequenting a bawdy place: Fred Qreitem, 35, of Manassas; Mahdi E. Sutherlin, 44, of Sterling; and Sung N. Lee, 50, of Annandale.
Bray said he planned to enter a plea of not guilty in September, when he will appear in court.
In 2000, another former mayor, Christopher Brown, tried to force Bray off the Town Council, contending that Bray's position as a sheriff's deputy created a conflict of interest. The case went to the Virginia Supreme Court, where Bray prevailed.
Bray said he didn't know why police busted his sports clinic. "I wouldn't dishonor myself by running a brothel house," he said. "It would be against my nature, period."
Staff writer Maria Glod contributed to this report.