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Prostitution

The house on Lower Rocky Point Road in Sound Beach, a relatively quiet, two-lane road that parallels the North Shore coastline is somehow indicative of comfortable, suburban living. The house is quaint and the front yard is loaded with lawn ornaments. Now there’s something hauntingly disturbing at the sight of it.

On April 25, the Suffolk County district attorney announced a multicount indictment of a resident of that Sound Beach house, Raymond Rodio III, for allegedly keeping over 20 women in a cycle of drugs and prostitution over several years, often using that basement for activities related to that prostitution. The parents said they didn’t know. Comments from community members online were similarly flummoxed. Nobody expected a story like that to come from such a neighborhood.

Nobody ever does.

Everyone knows about the opioid epidemic. It’s said you don’t have to stick your arm out too far before you brush against someone who has been impacted by the crisis. For years it has ravaged Long Island, and only with concerted and multiyear efforts from community activists, journalists and policymakers are we finally starting to make efforts from the ground level up. Local legislators and school districts continually host Narcan training courses to aid overdose cases, and with the New York State budget, an expanded access to medication-assisted treatment has become available in both the hospital and jail settings.

Residents have commented online there are houses they suspect are involved in drug dealing, but why would anybody expect that this case also has allegedly been involved in human trafficking?

That’s just the thing — perhaps people need to be more alert to prevent these crimes.

Rodio was allegedly operating this illicit scheme for five years or maybe even longer. He got away with it for that long only until thankfully during an unrelated traffic stop an officer recognized that the woman passenger in Rodio’s car showed signs of being in a forced prostitution situation. 

Prostitution? On the North Shore? Yes, it does happen here, and it doesn’t just take place in seedy motels or in illicit massage parlor operations. It happens at reputable hotels, and online, through well-known websites like craigslist or on dating apps like Tinder. It’s likely that people as young as 15 years are involved. These sex traffickers often recruit online through social media or find young women with poor family lives or with existing drug problems.

It can happen anywhere. The case in Sound Beach more than proves it.

It’s time for parents and teachers to learn about this issue, one that has only grown with the opioid epidemic. Children need to learn the dangers beyond drugs, and adults should learn the warning signs to notice young women who might be involved in these truly horrific situations.

Many North Shore communities have continued to step up in the overwhelming face of the opioid crisis. We can take a stand against this issue as well.

Police arrested Alhong Wang, Chunhua Cui, Guiyu Piao, and Hailian Shen were arrested for allegedly practicing massage without a license May 4.

Suffolk County police arrested four women for allegedly unlicensed massages during a raid at a massage parlor in Hauppauge.

In response to numerous community complaints, Suffolk County police 4th Precinct crime section officers and the Town of Islip fire marshal executed a search warrant May 4 at the Royal Spa, located on Motor Parkway, at approximately 4 p.m.

Hailian Shen, 49, of Flushing; Chunhua Cui, 50, of Flushing; Guiyu Piao 48, of Flushing; and Aihong Wang, 49, of Little Neck; were all arrested and charged with alleged unauthorized practice of a profession, a class E felony under the New York State Education law. In addition, Cui, Piao and Wang were also charged with prostitution.

During the investigation conducted by Islip fire marshals numerous violations and summons were issued.

Cui was held in lieu of $10,000 cash bail, which was not posted as of May 7. Wang was held in lieu of $7,500 cash bail, which also was not posted as of May 7.

The arrestees were arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip May 5. Details on Shen and Piao’s arrangements were not immediately available.

Liu Fengying and Ma Zi Juan were arrested during a massage parlor raid in Smithtown. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested two women during a raid at a massage parlor in Smithtown March 8.

In response to numerous community complaints, Suffolk County police 4th Precinct crime section officers, Suffolk County police detectives, and the Town of Smithtown fire marshal conducted an investigation into illegal activities at the Cecilia Spa, located at 139 East Main St., at approximately 3 p.m.

During the investigation conducted by the Town of Smithtown fire marshal, numerous violations were discovered, and summonses were issued for each.

Ma Zi Juan, 35, of Flushing, and Liu Fengying, 40, of Lindenhurst, were both arrested and charged with alleged prostitution and unauthorized practice of a profession, a Class E felony under the New York State education law.

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested two women following a massage parlor raid in East Northport Sunday, May 7.

In response to numerous community complaints, Suffolk County Police 2nd Precinct Crime Section officers, Suffolk County Police Criminal Intelligence Section detectives, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security special agents and Town of Huntington Code Enforcement officers conducted an investigation into illegal activity at The Spa, located on Larkfield Road.

Ling Gao and and Xiaoguang Li were arrested May 5 and charged with unauthorized practice of a profession, a class E felony under the New York State Education Law. Li was also charged with two counts of prostitution.

An investigation by Huntington Code Enforcement officers revealed numerous occupancy and town code violations.

Gao, 53, of Flushing, and Li, 45, of Flushing, were scheduled to be arraigned at a later date at 1st District Court in Central Islip. No attorney information was immediately available.

FIle photo

Suffolk County Police arrested two Flushing women for unauthorized practice of a profession and prostitution during a massage parlor raid in Huntington Monday, Feb. 20.

In response to community complaints, Suffolk County Police 2nd Precinct Crime Section officers, Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives, Suffolk County Police Criminal Intelligence detectives, and Huntington Code Enforcement officers conducted an investigation into illegal activities at Foot Spa, located on New York Ave. at approximately 3:20 p.m.

Xiao Hua Wang, 37, and Xiao Qin Wu, 37, were arrested and charged with unauthorized practice of a profession, a Class E Felony under the New York State Education Law and prostitution. The women will be arraigned at a later date. No attorney information was available.

An investigation by Town of Huntington Code Enforcement Officers revealed numerous occupancy and town code violations. The investigation is continuing.

 

Superstar Beverage was closed following multiple violations and illegal activity. Photo by Kevin Redding

The Superstar Beverage building on Route 112 in Coram has been condemned as a result of illegal activity and safety issues.

Following an investigation, the alcohol distributor, a source of many complaints of drug and alcohol related activities, was cited with numerous State Liquor Authority violations, including sale to minors as well as licensing violations. The Town of Brookhaven building inspector and fire marshals condemned the location for fire code violations and for no Certificate of Compliance and no Certificate of Occupancy.

“You had prostitution here, drug dealing, the sale of alcohol to underage individuals — all of that poses significant public safety risks and degrades our quality of life here,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said. “We’re not going to stand for that.”

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said that the site has been a nuisance to the community for years.

“I have been continuously working with local community leaders, the Suffolk County Police Department and the Town of Brookhaven to collaborate on public safety and revitalization efforts,” Anker said. “It is important that we do everything in our power to support the Coram community and its local businesses to ensure that it remains economically viable.”

A notice is taped to the door of Superstar Beverage siting the condemnation of the building. Photo by Kevin Redding
A notice is taped to the door of Superstar Beverage siting the condemnation of the building. Photo by Kevin Redding

Residents rushed to social media to voice their support for the shutdown.

“This is amazing,” Eric Malmed wrote on Facebook. “This area was being turned into such a dump because of that place, and the shopping center across the street was so unsafe. Thank you.”

Others are afraid it won’t get rid of the problem.

“Do you think closing it down will get rid of drugs and prostitution in the area?” Robert Mindlin of Selden asked. “You are sadly mistaken.”

Tom Hoffman of Yaphank echoed his sentiment.

“Getting rid of the beer store won’t get rid of the problem,” he said. “They will migrate somewhere else within the county. It’s happened before and it will happen again. I cannot take away from the exceptional work of our county’s finest. I just hope relocating the problem does not create a larger one via conglomeration.”

To help cut off the problems though, Anker and Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) formed the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force in the spring in response to quality of life concerns from Coram residents. The task force is made up of many community stakeholders including elected officials from the state, county and town, the Suffolk County Police Department, the Department of Social Services, local civic leaders, property managers and representatives from not-for-profit organizations. The task force has coordinated revitalization efforts including homeless outreach efforts, increased security at the shopping center and the condemnation of Superstar Beverage.

“I would like to thank Commissioner Sini and the Town of Brookhaven on their collaboration, which they have brought to a higher level than we have seen before,” Calarco said. “They recognize that when we all work together, we can produce real effective change for our communities.”

He said local business owners in the Coram Plaza shopping center have said they’ve seen a marked improvement in security and the ability of their costumers to feel comfortable shopping in their stores, especially since the beverage center shut down.

Sini said he intends to keep it that way.

“Town, police and county officials are going to stand with the community, work together, and solve our public safety problems,” he said.

Police Commissioner Tim Sini discusses housing issues happening across the county. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Housing fraud has hit home for some North Shore officials.

During Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory’s press conference on Monday, fellow legislators, local leaders and county and state officials addressed issues with squatters and unsafe structures cropping up across Long Island.

According to Gregory (D-Amityville), squatters are using foreclosed homes to take advantage of prospective residents looking for an affordable place to live. In many cases, the actual property owners have abandoned the property and some of the homes are becoming safety hazards.

Then there’s the problem of the houses becoming havens for criminal activity.

“A lot of these vacant homes are being used for drug deals,” Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said. “These vacant homes are a danger in our society.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini added that the homes can also become magnets for prostitution and vandalism.

The neglected houses that become sites for criminal activity are commonly called zombie homes.

According to Sini, in each hamlet on Long Island there are dozens of zombie homes or houses that squatters are illegally renting out to unsuspecting tenants.

“We know homelessness is a major crisis for our veterans, for our seniors, for our working families,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. “When we see someone taking advantage of someone looking to rent or purchase a home, it’s very heinous because a lot of the times, we’re talking about people’s life savings … and this could really disrupt the family.”

Many tenants find the properties through Craigslist or similar websites. During the event, Gregory said a single mother was one of many people scammed when a squatter posed as a property owner and rented out a parcel to her. Although police were unable to arrest that particular squatter before the person fled, officials are working to arrest suspects in such cases.

They are also urging people to report vacant homes in their neighborhood. Those tips can help — according to Anker, the Rocky Point Civic Association keeps track of these homes and has reported more than 70 vacant homes in the area.

“This is happening all over the county. We want to make sure people are aware of what’s going on and that … when you’re going to rent a property, that you do your due diligence,” Gregory said. “There are people out there, unscrupulous people … who take advantage.”

Gregory will host an educational seminar on the issue on Tuesday, March 29, at the Copiague Memorial Library on Deauville Boulevard. The seminar runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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