Tallahassee Massage Therapist Arrested Twice in Massage Parlor Stings

Friday, February 5, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law


A Tallahassee massage therapist, Gendi Li, has been arrested twice in two weeks for charges of prostitution and practicing without a license. The Florida Departments of Health and Law Enforcement had received several complaints from customers of the massage parlor where Li worked. It was reportedly called the “Health Center.”

Ms. Li was first arrested on Jan. 22, 2016, after she allegedly tried to solicit an undercover law enforcement officer. According to law enforcement, after the first arrest they continued to get complaints that Li was back at work. They staged a second undercover operation.


The Second Arrest.

On Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Li was arrested for the second time at the Health Center for allegedly offering to perform an illegal sex act on an undercover law enforcement officer. In addition to solicitation charges, she also faces charges of practicing massage therapy without a license. These are the same charges she received after her first arrest the week prior. To read more, click here.


Crackdown on Massage Therapists.

Massage therapists are required to be licensed in the state they practice and have to undergo background checks. Lawmakers are looking to soon raise penalties for unlicensed massage therapists even more. Bills in the legislature would require that convictions on prostitution would bar applicants from obtaining a license and also constitute an offense for the massage establishment's license, as well. Lawmakers are trying to crackdown to prevent prostitution and what they perceive to be human trafficking. To read a prior blog I wrote on this topic, click here.
                                    

What to Do or Not Do.

1. Owners of massage therapy establishments must be diligent in making sure their employees actually have valid Florida state licenses. These should be confirmed online.

2. Owners of massage therapy establishments should have written policies that they require all employees to sign that prohibit any sexual acts on the premises.

3. Owners of massage therapy establishments should have written policies in effect that require an employed massage therapist to immediately advise the owner if there is any inappropriate act, accusation by a client or anything out of the ordinary with a massage therapy visit.    

4. Massage therapists should be very careful about how they communicate with their massage therapy clients. Often, in the face of language barriers, misunderstandings occur.

5. Massage therapists accused of crimes such as sexual solicitation or prostitution, must fight these charges. If they plead guilty, plead nolo contendere, pay a fine or have the adjudication
withheld, this will still count as a conviction with the Board of Massage Therapy.                    
6. Massage therapists who receive a letter from the Department of Health advising them that there is an investigation against them, should not make any statements but should immediately consult with an experienced health law attorney. Often you can successfully defend against such charges. Consequences of a Conviction or Nolo Plea. If a massage therapist is charged with a criminal offense such as those above, and he or she pleads nolo contendere or guilty or is found guilty or has the adjudication deferred, these are all treated the same as a finding of guilty by the Department of Health and the Board of Massage Therapy. There will be many adverse consequences if adverse action is then taken against your massage therapist license. This is why it is necessary to defend yourself.

Adverse consequences include:
 
1. Loss of your Florida license.
 
2. Loss of your licenses in any other states.
 
3. A probable bar on being able to obtain any future professional license (such as Nurse, Physical Therapist, etc.).

4. Loss of your national board certification.

5. Report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

6. Action by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to exclude you form the Medicare Program.

7. Exclusion from the Medicare Program also requires that you are placed on the list of persons who are debarred (prohibited from) any government contracting or working for anyone who accepts government contracting funds.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Massage Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to massage therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensing matters and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. We have represented a number of massage therapists who have had summary actions initiated against their massage therapy licenses by the Department of Health (DOH).

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Sources:

Hatter, Lynn. “Tallahassee woman arrested twice in recent weeks in massage parlor sting.” WFSU. (January 28, 2016). Web.

“Tallahassee Massage Parlor Employee Arrested for Prostitution.” WTXL ABC 27. (January 28, 2016). Web.


Comments?

As a massage therapists, have you received a letter of investigation from the DOH? Do you think lawmakers are adequately penalizing massage therapists for crimes?


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


KeyWords:  Department of Health Investigation, Florida Board of Massage Therapy, Massage Therapy Licence, criminal background screening, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida massage therapist, license disciplined, license investigation, license revoked, licensure defense coverage, massage therapy defense, massage therapy regulations, defense attorney, defense lawyer, employee of massage establishment, employer of massage establishment, Florida Statutes, human trafficking, massage therapist attorney, massage therapist lawyer, regulations of massage therapists, regulations of professionals and occupations, The Health Law Firm, Health Law

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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2/5/2016

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