The FBI raided the Washington area's largest network of massage parlors Wednesday night and yesterday morning to gather evidence for a wide-ranging federal investigation into allegations of payoffs being made by some massage parlors to local police.
More than 60 agents took truckloads of documents and other items from a dozen locations - one in the District and 11 in Northern Virginia - of what the FBI characterized in court documents as "the largest, most sophisticated commercialized prostitution business" in the Washington area.
At the Fairfax County home of Michael Louis Parrish, a 33-year old man the FBI says owns and operates the network of massage parlors and "outcall massage" locations, FBI agents found a list of names of Alexandria police officers with amounts of money written next to their names, according to law enforcement sources.
The raids were the culmination of a year-long investigation into what the FBI said was a $1-million-a-year prostitution operation headed by the reclusive Parrish who hid his role "behind a complex structure of corporations and business enterprises," according to the FBI affidavit in court.
No criminal warrants were issued yesterday in connection with the raids, FBI officials said.
Parrish is known as "The Old Man," drives a Mercedes-Benz 450-SL, and carries a briefcase containing a Magnum revolver, according to an FBI affidavit. Agents raiding his $105,000 two-story Fairfax County home at 1700 Mason Hill Dr. in the Mount Vernon area required two truckloads to cart off records that included the alleged payoff list and what agents called an "intelligence report."
The report described attitudes and procedures of Washington area law enforcement officials toward prostitution and detailed the number of FBI agents assigned to investigate such activities in the District and Virginia.
Alexandria Police Chief Charles T. Strobel said yesterday he has no knowledge of any "allegations, conclusions, circumstantial or other evidence" implicating city police in massage parlor payoffs. Strobel was at Parrish's home during the raid and said he learned nothing of the alleged payoff list.
At several Parrish-owned massage parlors in Alexandria Wednesday night, the agents seized records, payment receipts and such paraphernalia as belts, whips, chains and other devices "used in the business," according to Joseph Corless, assistant agent in charge of the Washington field office, which initiated the raids.
At one location, Bunny's Health Salon, at 208 N. Washington St., the hallways and many of the rooms were carpeted in bright red. "Bunny's VIP Room," just behind the foyer, had red floor tile and red-carpeted steps leading to a platform bed and a marble-style tub. Erotic paintings rested against wall mirrors.
In a slightly less elegant second floor room were two empty wine glasses and a bottle of lemon-lime bath oil. In the back was an office containing a wall zip code map of the Washington area and printed telephone message forms to log requests for outcall massage service.
In a downstairs bathroom were posted a three-page list of "bad check" customers and strict "regulations" the women were to follow in reporting their activities. The sheet was to contain their "stage name," and customers were to be coded by categories, such as "RC" for regular customer, "RRC" for referred by regular customer and "WI" for walk-in."
Another sheet found in the laundry room prescribed new approaches to customers following passage of an Alexandria city law last year barring cross-sexual massages. Instructions accompanying the sample dialogue directed masseuses to always say "session" instead of "massage."
What is a session? "Well, the procedure is a little different, but the results are a lot better," masseuses were directed to say. Prices listed ranged from $30 for a "topless" to $100 for an hour-and-one-half "session."
Following passage of the ordinance, attorney James I. Burkhardt wrote city officials on behalf of two Parrish parlors saying they were no longer conducting massages and, therefore, were no longer subject to health inspections.
The investigation, according to the affidavit, found a "maze of interrelated enterprises, all ultimately controlled by Parrish and linked together by common geographical locations, common employes, common telephone numbers, and related companies and corporate accounts.
Nearby, the city occupancy permit application said the business of Bunny's was as "soliciting agent for sale of goods," with monthly receipts of $8,570 in 1977.
Despite such disclaimers and vagaries, according to the FBI affidavit, Bunny's and the rest of the Parrish-owned parlors function "in reality solely as houses of prostitution."
The 34-page affidavit provides an intimate glimpse of the corporate structure and the day-to-day operation of an alleged prostitution empire in which a "facade has been carefully erected to conceal Parrish's role as owner and operator," according to the affidavit.
FBI agent Charles Bartles III said the investigation uncovered a daily operation involving directors, managers, promotors and approximately 40 masseuses and an attorney and a polygraph operator.
"The investigation reveals," Bartles affidavit said, "that records and receipts from massage parlors and out-call services are funneled to Parrish himself, and then recycled into his corporate accounts."
Receipts were taken to Parrish's Fairfax house for processing in the afternoons, the affidavit said. Parrish could not be reached yesterday.
Burkhardt, and Alexandria lawyer, allegedly told one FBI source inside Parrish's operation who wanted to file charges against her "pimp" that to do so would require her to testify about her prostitution activities, the court affidavit said. This, Burkhard is alleged to have said, would "blow the company's whole operation wide open," the document said. Burkhardt denied yesterday he ever made such a statement.
Based on its own surveillance and information from three Parrish employes, the FBI reported that the masseuses receive no salary but get to keep only money negotiated separately with each customer for "sex services." This money cannot, however, exceed the houses rates of up to $100.
Lie detector tests were required, the affadivit said, "to determine whether a masseuse was stealing money or customers from Parrish's operation and whether she was a law enforcement source or agent."
(Masseuses were routinely shifted from one location to another in the same evening, the affidavit said, when business was slack in one location and brisk in another.
The outcall services run by Parrish numbered 14, according to the affidavit, including the House of the Rising Sun, The Times of Tranquility, Cupid's Cuties, Lady Godiva, Hope's, Foxy Lady and Aquarius Outcall. Several operated from a 10th floor suite at 1028 Connecticut Ave. NW, while others were run from the second floor of Bunny's where 26 different phone numbers were listed.
Masseuses assigned to "Dial Us" outcall service waited at 1505 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, to be dispatched by managers to their destinations the affidavit said. The masseuses first task, the affadavit said, was to collect a fee and then to negotiate her "tip" or "grat" for sex.
The phone operation was later moved to Bunny's, while the masseuses' home base was moved to the basement of "Phase II," another Parrish parlor at 624 N. Washington St., the court paper said.
Outcall masseuses who were rejected by the customer were often docked $5, which was withheld from their "tips," according to the affidavit. Before Thanksgiving last year, the affidavit said, the masseuses at "Dial Us" wrote Parrish complaining of this "voided call" policy and of an additional $5-per-night charge the women were required to pay for "promotions."
Four different corporations were used to pay masseuses working for the various enterprises, the affidavit said. Investigators said they uncovered an "interrelated network of corporate bank accounts and post office boxes that correlated to physical locations of Parrish-controlled massage parlors."
For example, bank records for March and April of this year showed Metropolitan Management Co. received $33,708 from four Parrish corporations for "consulting services," the FBI affidavit said. Metropolitan, which was traced to Parrish, in turn paid rent, utilities and phone bills for three Parrish massage parlor locations, the court paper said.
Metropolitan, according to the affidavit, also paid $24,025 to International Institute Inc. and $1,960 to CPC Corp. for "consulting." Both corporations were traced to Parrish through bank and postal records, the affidavid said.