JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Johnston spa has been shut down for allegedly selling more than just the skin care products that were advertised.
Neighboring businesses owners say they knew something wasn’t quite right at the spa – and they quickly became suspicious of what was going on.
Now, police say the owner of Mini Body Works was not licensed to provide the kind of services she and her employees were offering.
Rachel Putel, who owns Borrelli’s Bakery, said she started hearing that the spa next door was selling services more than what they were legally allowed to.
“I don’t know, just one of those things,” she told Eyewitness News. “Weird place to open. Just rumors going around that they don’t have a legitimate massage license.”
The spa opened this summer and Putel said she became suspicious when she noticed two things about the spa’s clientele.
First, they usually came from out of town. Second, they were mostly men.
“I just noticed a lot of guys walking past and going in there as opposed to women,” she said.
Police said the owner, Xue Hua Chen from New York, was only licensed to sell skin care products – not massages.
Police also found two beds and a full refrigerator inside the building, indicating the woman were living there.
“I was nervous about how having a place like that could affect the plaza and what people think about our businesses,” Putel said.
According to police, if the owner reopens the business without the proper license, she could be fined $1,000 per day.