Alexandria's battle to rub out the rubdown rages on.
After nearly three years of FBI raids, bungled police work, courtroom defeats and City Council hand wringing, officials still are fighting to stamp out what may be Alexandria's most durable private enterprise: massage parlors.
"Our ultimate goal is to shut them down," says Alexandria assistant prosecutor Drew Carroll, who helped oversee a three-month undercover investigation last fall against five of the remaining "health clubs" in the city.
One employe charged during police raids against all five establishments on Dec. 17. yanna DeOliveria of Phase II, 624 N. Washington St., yesterday pleaded guilty in Alexandria Circuit Court to giving an unlawful massage without the health certificate now required by the city.
DeOliveria was the fifth defendant to enter a guilty plea as a result of the raids. Circuit Judge Donald Kent sentenced the woman, a 32-year-old Brazilian, to a suspended 30-day jail term and fined her $300.
DeOliveria's arrest followed an encounter with Harold Viar, an off-duty Lorton correctional officer who, at the request of Alexandria police, visited each of the five establishments "about three times," Carroll says, to determine a pattern of illegal cross-sexual massages.
An amended city ordinance exempting undercover agents from law prohibiting certain sexual activities -- part of the city's attempted crackdown -- was enacted last July after one agent's testimony about his sexual exploits led to the dismissal of several cases.
During his undercover visits to Phase II, the El Dorado Bath House, the Tiki Tiki Health Club, Charmaine's Health Club and the New Towers Health Salon, Viar carried a concealed microphone linked by radio to a tape recorder, Carroll said.
But according to Carroll, most of the tapes were "really lousy . . . "The microphone was in his jacket, which he took off and hung up.And there was usually music in the background," the prosecutor said.
Authorities have been spared the problem of relying on the muffled tapes as evidence because of the defendants' guilty pleas.
Fees for Viar's visits ranged from $33 to $78 in the massage establishments, some of which, Carroll said, featured mirrored ceilings, beds and baths for "mutual nude bathing." DeOliveria charged $78, but tried to entice Viar to spend the night with her for $420, according to yesterday's court testimony.
One alleged massage palor, Tiki Tiki, has gone out of business since last winter's raids, leaving four still in operation -- a vast improvement, in the view of Alexandria chief procesutor John Kloch, from the 14 parlors in the city three years ago.
Besides the revised city ordinance governing undercover operations, drafted by former U.S. Attorney Brian Gettings, officials have moved to tighten massage restrictions by requiring a $5,000 registration fee, licenses issued by the city health department and valid health permits for individual masseuses.
In addition, he said, the city attorney's office may attempt to prosecute massage parlors simply as public nuisances. And that, city officials hope, may cause the parlors to throw in the towel.